Plumbing problems in older homes

Lighthouse keeper house Bill BaggsIf you are like me, you love the character of an older home.  There are so many architectural details that make the home interesting, much more so than a home with just straight walls and no details.  And you have probably noticed if you watch those home renovation TV shows, that older homes come with many problems.  The electrical systems that were installed in older homes just do not handle the electrical load we put on them today.  The same goes with plumbing.  Any home that was built prior to 1960 probably has a plumbing system that needs updating.

The galvanized pipes that were used for plumbing systems have probably some amount of corrosion on them.  They may also have clogs built up in them.  One way to test for this problem is to try running your hot water.   You should have good water pressure.  If you don’t, you most likely have one of these galvanized pipe problems.  The hot water galvanized pipes are normally the first to go.  Plumbing professionals will tell you it is probably more cost effective to replace the entire system than to replace a piece here and there over time.

Another problem with the plumbing in older homes is the sewer line.  Older homes probably were not hooked up to a public sewer system and had an individual septic system.  Even if the sewer line was connected to a public system, the homeowner is responsible for the pipes from the street to the house.  These pipes can be damaged by tree roots or crushed.  Cameras can be lowered through the pipes to check for damage.  Believe it or not, pre 1942 sewer line could even have been made of tarpaper.  Mostly, cast iron, clay or plastic was used as sewer line material.  There is no doubt the tarpaper lines are in desperate need of changing out.  Cast iron pipes can corrode.  Clay pipes and plastic pipes can crush easily.  Septic systems in older homes should also be inspected.  Septic tanks can corrode or be full.

Yes, owning an older home is charming and lets you feel like a part of history.  It’s very important to make sure the systems of the house are in proper working order and up to present day codes.  If there is a plumbing issue in an older home it most likely involves galvanized pipes or deteriorated sewer lines.  A plumbing professional will be able to advise you on what to do.

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