Encountering any plumbing issues that are outside the norm for your home is rarely a good sign. A home plumbing system is complex, there are many interconnected pipes and fixtures and a smaller issue will get worse over time. Ignoring a plumbing problem is not a viable option because extensive repairs can be expensive and water leaks can cause a lot of damage. When plumbing pipes fail, it’s rare that this occurs rapidly and there are usually some warning signs, if you can recognize them. In this article, we will look at six signs your plumbing pipes need replacing and how to fix the problem.
1. Inferior Materials
Many American homes built prior to 1960 may still have older plumbing pipes in place that are made from inferior materials. Two prominent examples include: cast iron and galvanized steel pipes. At the time of their use, these materials, and to a lesser extent lead, were regarded as superior for plumbing purposes due to their durability. But, time has shown us that this thinking was flawed and they are prone to rust, corrosion and rapid decay. The modern plumbing materials are PVC and copper which seem to be a far better option. If you have poor quality pipes in your home, contact your local certified plumber and get them replaced. This proactive step will protect your home against water damage and give you peace of mind.
2. Aging Plumbing Pipes
In most homes, the main reason for a failing plumbing pipe system is simply that they are too old and no longer fit for purpose. Even the best quality pipes will wear out eventually and some pipes can last for almost a century! As we’ve already seen, the construction materials make a difference, but a replacement will be needed. Patching up an aging plumbing system is a poor choice in the medium to long term. A new plumbing system will reduce the need for disruption and repairs that can be more expensive overall.
3. Avoiding Code Violations
Even if your plumbing system is working well, it may still be out of compliance when it comes to local code standards and certain restrictions. This is usually a problem when it comes to selling your home and you need to bring the property up to code. If you’re planning a sale in the near future, you can replace your pipes now and get access to better pipes immediately. This is also a great way to check the pipes and make sure they are working efficiently before a sale is completed.
4. Improving Health and Safety
Many older plumbing systems in homes built in the early 1900’s contain toxic lead. This heavy metal was popular because it’s easy to form into shapes and durable. Lead plumbing pipes can last for around a century and so there may be some in use today. In fact, up until recently the use of lead solder was common in plumbing and this is dangerous for our health. Lead leaches into the water it comes into contact with and this leads to a number of serious health problems. The EPA has designated lead to be very dangerous and no concentration is allowed in public water supplies. If you have lead lined water pipes, they must be replaced urgently to protect your health.
5. Maintenance Problems
Many people neglect their plumbing systems until something goes wrong and this is a flawed strategy. Essential annual maintenance can help you to identify smaller issues before they develop into more serious problems. Small issues are easier and less expensive to fix and maintenance can even extend the lifespan of your pipes. Over time, pipes can become cracked and corroded without your knowledge and this can lead to a total replacement. Adopting a proactive approach to plumbing maintenance may negate this need and some repiping may fix the problems.
6. Other Physical Signs
There are many other physical signs to look for and they may all indicate a plumbing pipe problem. These include slow drains, mold growth, sewer gas odors, low water pressure, plumbing backups, rising water bills, strange sounds, discolored water, wild plant growth, rising water bills, and temperature fluctuations. There are other possible causes, contact your local certified plumber and they can identify the problem.
Dealing with the Problem
Getting a professional plumber to check your pipes is the only way to get an accurate assessment. Once you understand the problem you can make informed decisions on how to fix the problem. In many cases, it may not be necessary to replace all the pipes in your home. Some sections of pipe may be repairable and repiping could be a viable option. Replacing all the pipes may be required but you can mitigate the costs with simple steps, they are:
Replace the Pipes During Renovations
The best time to replace plumbing pipes is during a kitchen or bathroom remodel. The walls have come down, the pipes are accessible and it’s easier to complete the work. Including your local certified plumber in your renovation plans early is a great way to get the work completed on a stricter budget.
Deal with Exposed Pipes First
Plumbing pipes may be located behind walls, paneling and be located in hard to reach areas. This can make access harder, which means that the installation costs are increased accordingly. If you concentrate on pipes that are easier to access like those in the utility room or basement you can make some progress. This is still difficult, some demolition may still be needed, but it’s an option for those on a very tight budget.
Hire a Licensed and Certified Plumber
Hiring a professional plumber may seem like an expensive option and many people will try to “save money” with DIY work or they may hire a “handyman”. This is a bad idea, plumbing repairs are complex and water damage is expensive to fix. Hiring a local professional plumber is a smarter move and it makes better sense in the long run.