Learn to identify the signs of aging plumbing by examining your water quality and being on the lookout for pinhole leaks and pipe corrosion. While it is a costly project to install new piping throughout a home, it is even more expensive to repair water damage and broken pipes.
What Type of Pipes Are In Your Home?
The age of your home will most likely determine the condition of your pipes, along with the type of piping material. Brass pipes can last 40 to 70 years, copper pipes can last more than 50 years and galvanized steel pipes can last from 20 to 50 years. It’s important to note that the time frames are completely subjective. For homes located in regions with hard water, pipes may break down much sooner than expected, as the high calcium and magnesium levels cause scale deposits to form inside pipes, and eventually cause clogs.
If your pipes are made of lead, you must completely replace each one as soon as possible. Though lead pipes have a life span of up to 100 years, the compound can poison your water supply. If your pipes are made of polybutylene, a popular piping material choice in the 1970s, your plumbing is at high risk for breakage. Polybutylene is inexpensive, but has proven unable to handle long-term contact with water treatment chemicals such as chlorine.
Observe Water Quality and Usage
Pay attention to the taste and color of your water. If you spot orange-tinted water in any bathtub or sink drain, it could signal pipe corrosion. Pipe erosion is inevitable – high-powered water flow will eventually wear down any pipe. However, pipe corrosion occurs when the water chemically reacts with the pipe’s makeup, eating away at its interior and causing premature disintegration. Corroded pipes not only give water an unpleasant taste, but could cause the water to pose a serious health hazard when ingested. Corrosion is a clear indication of outdated, unfit plumbing systems.
If you notice a recent water bill increase even though your normal routine has not changed, this could be a sign of a pipe leak. Even the smallest leak can create widespread water and mold damage, and if it goes undetected it may worsen. Experienced plumbers can use techniques to pinpoint the source, replace the leaking pipe section and search out any other weak spots in the system.
Inspect Exposed Piping Regularly
Two obstacles work against homeowners who are dedicated to keeping their plumbing functioning properly. First, new homeowners may not know if the pipes were well-maintained by the previous property owner or what previous plumbing issues, if any, existed. Second, plumbing lines are commonly hidden from view inside walls and ceilings.
Homeowners can obtain a copy of the home inspector’s report conducted before the sale of the property to discern the age and type of pipes in the home and if any plumbing concerns were noted. They can also inspect the sections of exposed piping, such as those located in a garage or crawl space, for signs of flaking metal or rust. If small leaks are popping up in the visible sections, other pipes may be experiencing the same problems. In this case, it’s time to call a plumber who can diagnose any concealed plumbing problems.
For experienced advice on the current state of your pipes, schedule an inspection with a trusted local plumber who can thoroughly assess if your home is showing signs of aging plumbing in need of repair or replacement.