Should I Replace My Old Pipes?

wrenches on pipeworkIf you live in an older home, built prior to the 60’s, your plumbing system is different than newer homes that use copper or PVC pipes and fittings.  If you haven’t already, then you will need to seriously consider replacing your pipes with newer more efficient ones.  It may not be as big of an undertaking as you may be dreading, but it needs to be done to avoid costly repairs from leaks or busted pipes.

Galvanized Pipes 

Galvanized steel pipes are prone to corrosion.  They are known for developing hard water deposits as a result of the corrosion.  As the sediment builds over the years, you may have noticed a reduction in water pressure.  This is because the buildup decreases the surface area within the pipes, allowing less and less water to pass through and out your faucets or shower heads.

The first place you will notice the decreased pressure is in the hot water piping.  This is because the buildup of sediment is sped up by warmer water.  Pipes that lay horizontal are also the pipes that become thick with sediment quicker than vertical pipes. Unfortunately, the corrosion doesn’t get better and there is nothing you can put down your drain to clean them.

If you see any “miniature stalactites” hanging down from exposed pipes in a basement or crawl space, it is time to replace them.  Because they essentially “rot” from the inside out, they will not last much longer.

Old Sewer Lines to the Street

One of the often overlooked and yet still troublesome aspect of old galvanized pipes, is the section from your home to the street, if you are on public plumbing.  This aspect of the plumbing system is still considered the homeowners’ responsibility to maintain and repair if needed.  In older homes, this horizontal line is more prone to be corroded as well as penetrated by tree roots.

Economic Alternatives for a Full Pipe Replacement

Copper pipes are a good choice favored by some.  Many plumbers and DIY’ers opt for CPVC or PEX.  Both are compatible with plumbing codes.  However, copper and the galvanized steel react together.  If you decide to replace your old plumbing system piece, it is vital that you use an adaptor at the joints where copper and steel are joined.  The reaction will cause a significant reaction causing costly leaks fairly quickly from the rapidly corroding iron pipes.

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