Plumbing pipes are not invincible, although many homeowners do not often think about their age and condition. Pipes have a limited lifespan and depending on when your home was built, it may be time for an upgrade. Modern plumbing systems use copper, brass or PVC pipes. These materials have different lifespans and none are meant to last forever.
Eras of Pipe Materials
For instance, if your home was built before 1970, then it likely was part of the Galvanized Steel Age of piping. A house that was built even before then may put it in the Cast Iron Age ,which is usually pre-World War II. Materials such as iron and steel are durable, but they’re also no longer used for plumbing systems. Both materials have limitations, such as susceptibility to corrosion. Internal corrosion is what can lead to toxins like lead getting into the water supply and any corrosion also weakens pipes making them more likely for them to break.
In homes with 50+ year-old piping you may already have hidden leaks developing. With pipes at this age you may want to have leak detection done to point out any issues with the condition of your plumbing.
In the 1970s copper became the most common type of metal for plumbing. It was attractive because of its lower cost, lightweight and corrosion resistance. If your copper pipes are extremely old you may need partial repiping, but probably not whole-house repiping.
Pipes like those that were used in homes built in the later 1970s and 1980s are made with one of the most popular types of plastic pipes, polybutylene – easily recognized by its gray color. Polybutylene was primarily the material of choice in the 1980s until it was discovered how easily it becomes brittle and breaks. Any polybutylene pipes in your house should be replaced with other types of plastic.
Other ways to determine if your pipes might need an upgrade are these signs of aging:
Discolored water coming out of the tap could be a sign that the water pipes are corroded and need to be replaced as soon as possible.
Odors coming from plumbing fixtures could indicate a blockage in the sewer. Over time gases could build up over time and lead to sewer leaks that can affect your whole property.
Staining that appears on walls and underneath plumbing pipes can indicate leaks.
Low water pressure
If your faucets are running lower than usual you could have a blockage in your plumbing system. A gradual loss of pressure doesn’t necessarily indicate an urgent problem. A sudden loss could mean there’s a broken or blocked pipe in your system.
Look for flaking, dents, discoloration and dimpling in your tubing. If there is damage or changes in the physical characteristics of plumbing pipes and tubing this can signal the need for replacement.
Obvious leaks and drips coming from your pipes are the most reliable signs that a plumbing problem requires replacement at some level.
Buildings constructed before 1978 are at a major risk of containing lead. If this is the case, there is a chance that these fixtures could contaminate drinking water.
If you aren’t sure about the condition of your home’s pipes, have a plumbing specialist analyze the plumbing system and check for leaks. Once a professional has evaluated your system they can give you an honest answer about what services you may need. Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.