Every part of the world is different in plumbing in the San Diego County area has a few quirks that are important to understand. Although we have a moderate climate we have a broad range of environmental features that affect the installation and maintenance of plumbing systems. San Diego County’s 70 miles of beaches, including communities such as Oceanside, have humid, salt air and mild winters. Not far to the east, homes located in Julian stand at an altitude of 4235 feet and have snowy winters and thin, rarefied air. To the northeast is the Anza Borrego desert with its searing heat and glaring sun. Between these extremes we find many varieties of climate whose most notable plant life is chaparral, more than a million acres of it. Chaparral are specialized plants whose lifecycle is tied closely to the fires common to their habitat.
Along our coast we must deal with the salt air and humidity which play havoc with metal, causing failure through corrosion. In the mountains we must prepare for cold winters where hose bibs can freeze above ground but buried pipe may also freeze. Alternately, desert communities face intense heat during the day and deep cold at night which can brutalize plastic pipe, making it turn brittle and crack.
Each region of San Diego County requires that a plumber be familiar with the particular issues found in the climate and the resulting code peculiarities. Along the coast water heaters frequently fail from the corrosive effect of the moist, salt air. Copper tubing, galvanized pipe and even faucets fall prey to it. Water heaters should be wrapped in water heater blankets, special blankets that normally are used to lower operating costs by keeping in the heat, to help reduce the effect of the corrosive air. Copper tubing should also be sleeved or insulated, not just where exposed but throughout the home. In the mountains, pipe must be thermally insulated in the ground and frost-free hose bibs, bibs that have an expansion chamber, should be used to keep pipes from bursting in the coldest days of winter. In the desert, plastic pipe should be avoided, favoring instead copper tubing. The extremes of hot and cold, particularly in the summer months, will cause plastic pipe to crack. Pipes also must be insulated but this time against the heat to avoid scalding temperatures in your home on the hottest days of summer.
In most of North San Diego County, communities such as Poway, Vista, Carlsbad, San Marcos, and Escondido for example, the moderate climate means that pipe may be buried close to the surface. This reduces the costs of installation and makes repairs much easier.
The most common problem that generally affects all areas of North San Diego county is an issue with water pressure. While it remains at about 50 psi for most of the county in the daytime it can creep up at night, sometimes exceeding 120 psi. In some areas of the county water pressure can be up to 120 psi during the day and this requires that pressure reducing valves be checked regularly in order to prevent damage to PVC water service lines and fixtures in the home.
With chaparral as common native plants it is a good idea to have a sprinkler system around your home to wet down the area in the event of approaching fire. While this is no guarantee that a home will be spared it has been known to help in the past.