Any homeowner will understand that dealing with plumbing problems is a normal aspect of home ownership. Sometimes it’s necessary to make a small repair that you can handle if you have basic DIY skills. This can include drain clogs, leaking faucets, and changing your taps. But, some plumbing problems should be handled by a local certified plumber with formal training and experience. This is especially true when it comes to repiping your plumbing system. Here are seven signs that your home may need repiping in the near future.
A Brief Repiping Primer
Before we begin, let’s clarify what we mean when we talk about repiping. This is the process that takes place when the hot and cold water pipes in the home are removed. In many cases, it’s not possible to solve a plumbing problem by replacing a single old pipe. In many cases, an entire repipe of the system will be required. The main issue is a balance between the cost of frequent repairs and repiping which can solve the core issue. The two main factors are the age of the pipes and the type of pipes used in your home.
1. Aging Plumbing Pipes
If you have a home that was built prior to the 1986 Safe Water Act, which includes a ban on all lead pipes, you may have out of date pipes in your home. If your home has never been repiped, there could be lead pipes that leach particles into your drinking water supply. The EPA considers no level of lead exposure to be safe and it’s an extremely toxic heavy metal. Children are at the greatest risk of brain and nervous system damage. Pregnant women are also at risk from long-term health issues and any lead pipes need to be removed immediately. If your home was built in the 40s up to the 70s, it may have galvanized steel pipes. These pipes are very vulnerable to corrosion, which weakens the pipe wall leading to leaks and bursts. All galvanized pipes should be repiped before a major water leak takes place. Water can cause a lot of damage in a short period of time and it’s expensive to repair.
2. Water Leaks
A water leak is easier to spot if the pipe is in an exposed location such as a utility room or the basement. In these areas, a little condensation on a hot water pipe is normal, but leaks and puddles of water are a sign of leaking. But, many water leaks cannot be seen because we have an entire network of plumbing pipes in hard to see areas, including: under the floor, in the ceilings, and behind walls. There may be water stains or drips that provide a clue, but water can travel a long distance from the source of the leak. If you do notice any water damage, it’s important to contact a local certified plumber. They can locate the water leak for you and carry out a repair or repiping as needed.
3. Frequent Clog Formation
Every home has the occasional clog at the kitchen sink, and in many cases, they can be removed with a cup plunger or a plumbing snake. But, if you have an older plumbing system and the clogs seem to return frequently, it’s a sign that the system is failing. It’s a good idea to monitor what goes into any drain, but older pipes are weaker and more susceptible to materials. A very old plumbing system may be unable to handle a flush that contains 2-ply toilet paper! When you compare the cost of repiping to frequent repairs, it’s usually the best option.
4. Corroded Pipes
Obviously, you will only notice corrosion on the surface of exposed pipes that you can see. But, if you do notice any discoloration, stains, or flaking it means that your pipes are rusting and they need to be replaced. When pipes corrode, they are more likely to develop water leaks and a burst pipe could occur at any time. Again, when you compare the potential cost of emergency repairs and water damage, it’s a smarter choice to repipe.
5. Discolored Water
If you have red, brown, or yellow water coming out of your bathroom or kitchen taps, it’s a sign that repiping may be needed. The usual cause of discolored water is a buildup of sediment or rust in the pipes. Many people assume that discolored water is safe to use, but this is incorrect. The best course of action is to contact a local certified plumber and get them to find the cause of the discoloration. In some cases, a repair can correct this issue or it may be a better idea to carry out repiping.
6. Low Water Pressure
When your water pressure drops, it can be caused by a number of different problems. But, the most common is corrosion or a buildup of sediment and scale in the pipes. When sediment, corrosion, and scale are accumulating, they gradually narrow the internal diameter of the pipe. This lowers the volume of water that can pass through that pipe, and in extreme cases, it may stop altogether. Eventually, leaks will form, the pressure builds and burst pipes can occur, which releases a lot of water quickly. Sometimes, the cause is a connection that has developed a fault and this is a quick repair for a professional plumber. But, it can be a sign of a deeper problem within your plumbing system and it will only get worse over time. Although smaller sections of pipe can be replaced, it’s usually better to carry out some repiping instead.
7. Noisy Pipes
Under normal operating conditions, your plumbing pipes should make loud noises. If you listen carefully, you may hear water flowing through a pipe and this is normal. But, if you can hear gurgling, rattling, or knocking noises, it’s time to contact your plumber. The pipes may have moved and they are now free of the fastenings that hold them in-place. But, there could be extensive damage and repiping may be a more cost effective solution.
If you’re worried about the state of your plumbing system, contact your local certified plumber today.