The Charlotte Newcomers Plumbing Guide
New to Charlotte? Welcome to the Queen city! We hope you quickly feel right at home. To help you get acquainted with regional differences, we’ve put together this simple guide to some of the plumbing issues we commonly deal with here in the South. (Note: Charlotte newcomers may wish to visit the Ask Dave section of the site to post specific questions. Dave answers these as promptly as his schedule permits.)
Plumbing Facts Charlotte Newcomers Need to Know
1. Very few homes in Charlotte have basements.
When people move to Charlotte, they’re commonly surprised that most homes in Charlotte do not have basements. The primary reason behind this is the heavy clay soil. Clay particles are very small and won’t allow excess water drain away from the house, which puts the basement at high risk of flooding or even collapse from the weight of the clay earth around the basement.
Up North you have to go down pretty deep when setting the foundation to get below the frost line. In Charlotte, we only need to go down 18 inches. That makes it less cost-effective to build homes with basements here.
How does this affect your plumbing? For starters, your water heater, which typically resides in a basement in Northern homes, may be in your garage or even your attic. We don’t recommend keeping a tank water heater in your attic, but are proponents of tankless water heaters in attics for several reasons you can read about here.
No basement means you may have exposed pipes (see point number two below), and also may mean you do not have a sump pump (or may need to place one in your crawl space if you are in a flood-prone zone). Basically, the lack of basements means plumbers are more limited in where we can place essential plumbing appliances and changes how the plumbing (pipes) are run throughout the home.
If you do have a basement here, be sure to install a sump pump. There’s a good chance you’ll need it one day!
2. Pipes freeze here as much or more often than up North.
Believe it or not, it’s true. Pipes freeze in Charlotte because homes here are not insulated with extremely cold weather in mind. Despite our mild temps most of the year, we usually get a few days of extreme cold, and the more below-freezing days we get in a row, the more vulnerable those pipes become. Be sure to insulate exposed pipes and winterize your crawl space, and take advantage of the following tips on how to prevent pipes from freezing.
3. Flooding can be a problem.
This also is caused by the clay soil, which is not very porous. When it rains hard (which it often does), the water runs right off instead of soaking into the ground, especially if that heavy downpour happens during a stretch of wet weather. Make sure you keep home, commercial and street drains clear of debris to avoid problems, and pay attention to warnings about flash flooding or living in a flood zone. This also means you should take flash flood warnings seriously, and keep in mind that driving conditions can be impaired by ponding of water on roads (and even sections of the highway).
4. Irrigation systems are common - for good reason.
Up North, you only need to water your lawn once to twice a week. Here, you have to water daily if you don’t want your lawn to brown out.
Irrigation systems are wonderful inventions; they’ll save you the daily hassle of dragging that sprinkler all over the yard (and getting soaked yourself). However, it’s important to schedule annual backflow testing for that irrigation system or you will risk contamination of your drinking water (from backflow). Not only is annual backflow testing the law, it’s also for your safety since backflow contamination is no joke.
As a side note, you’ve probably noticed that we aerate and overseed our lawns in the fall, not spring. That’s because the weather gets too hot too quickly in the spring to support tender blades of baby fescue. However, the cool fall weather is perfect for both germinating and establishing new fescue.
Psst! You can plant pansies in October, too! They’ll bloom all winter long, making spirits bright until it’s time to plant spring flowers! Fun, right?
Need a Charlotte Plumber Today?
Need a hand with a plumbing project? Give us a call at 704.846.5371. We will gladly take care of whatever plumbing tasks you need addressed.
Quick question & answer: What do I need to know if I'm new to Charlotte?
There are several plumbing facts for Charlotte newcomers that can help with regional differences on issues that we deal with in the South. Very few homes in Charlotte have basements, meaning you may have exposed pipes and may not have a sump pump. Pipes do freeze here in extreme cold. Flooding can be a problem. Lastly, irrigation systems are common.