What Happens When a Home Plumbing System is Repiped?

If the plumbing pipes in your home are in poor shape or aging, it may not be economically viable to repair them. When this occurs, the only workable option is repiping which will replace those old pipes with new plumbing pipes. This may seem like a drastic option, but it’s a sound investment and it can even add value to your home. In this article, we will take a closer look at the repiping process to help you make informed decisions.

4 Repiping Steps Explained

The repiping process usually follows four clear steps, they are:

  1. Inspection.
  2. Estimates.
  3. Demolition.
  4. Reconstruction.

If these terms sound extreme that’s an accurate depiction and this type of work is not a good fit for a DIY enthusiast. If your home needs to be repiped, it’s a better idea to hire a local licensed and certified plumber to handle the work for you.

Three Common Reasons for Repiping

Before we go into further detail about the home repiping process, it’s important to determine if it’s necessary for your home. Let’s face it, repiping is a time consuming process and it can be expensive. If you’re lucky, it may be avoidable with other approaches but there are three common reasons for repiping that make it a necessity.

1.   Aging Lead Pipes

Lead plumbing pipes were a common feature in houses built up to the 1920s and in some locations they were used up until the mid 80s. Lead is a toxic material that has been linked to a larger number of health problems, including: heart damage, kidney damage, damage to reproductive organs, learning difficulties and more. The lead can leach into the water passing through the pipe and it’s ingested when the water is used for drinking or cooking. If you have a home built prior to 1986, check the plumbing materials. If you have lead pipes or pipes that have been soldered with lead, they should be replaced.

2.   Increasing Plumbing Repair Costs

There is a point when you may feel that you’re throwing good money after bad when the plumbing pipes seem to fail regularly. If the repair bills are increasing in frequency, it may be a better idea to fix the root cause of the problems. Even minor plumbing problems can add up over time and avoiding these smaller fixes is a better investment. In many cases, it will be less expensive to replace the entire plumbing system.

3.   Galvanized Steel Pipes

After the widespread rejection of lead as a viable plumbing pipe material, there was a short period when galvanized steel pipes were perceived to be the answer. Up to the 60s, galvanized steel pipes were regularly installed in homes and businesses. But, these pipes have a zinc coating that prevents the formation of rust and discoloration. This is a problem because lead will build up in the pipe when corrosion occurs. This makes the water these pipes carry harmful to health when used for drinking and cooking. As an added bonus, these deposits will accumulate inside the pipes and clog the entire plumbing system. If you have galvanized steel pipes in your home, they should be replaced immediately for extra peace of mind.

What Happens When the Plumbing System is Repiped?

Let’s take a look at what happens before, during, and after the repiping takes place in your home.

Before Repiping Begins

The process begins with an inspection carried out by your local professional plumber. They should listen to your problems and check for signs of degraded pipes and fixtures to make an expert assessment. Unless an inspection is thorough, there is no way to determine if repiping is the best option.

After the inspection, the plumber gives the homeowner their recommendation. This will take factors such as the age of the home, the plumbing system layout, and other pertinent details into account. The recommendation will include the type of materials needed and which areas are the most urgent to tackle first. In certain cases, it may be necessary to replace everything at once or a more focused approach may work well.

Choosing to work on small sections at a time is a good way to cover the costs of the repiping if you’re on a tighter budget. But, if the pipes are already failing this approach could cost more in the long-term. Once you’ve decided how to proceed, you should get a free written estimate detailing the costs of the repiping project.

During the Repiping

After the estimate is accepted, a period of demolition is needed to gain access to the plumbing pipes. All valuable family possessions should be removed and plastic sheeting needs to be placed over furniture. The water supply is turned off and the water lines are drained to prevent water damage to your home. The plumbers cut through the drywall and the damage is minimized to reduce the costs of reconstruction. The old pipes are removed and the new ones are installed at this stage. If you have pipes in the floors, the plumber may access them from below when possible to make the process less intrusive. When the repiping is finished, the plumber will restore the water supply and carry out testing. If there are any water leaks, they will be corrected at this time before the reconstruction process commences.

The Reconstruction Phase

When the plumber is satisfied the new pipes are working correctly, it’s time to begin the reconstruction process. A drywall contractor will patch the walls, seal the drywall and finish any minor construction repairs. Then it’s time to decorate with paint or paper for a professional finish.

How Long Will it Take to Repipe My Home?

This is a hard question to answer because the length of the project will depend on the size of your home and the number of bathrooms you have. A small home can be repiped in approximately 2 days if the plumber is experienced. A larger home could take almost a week to repipe properly.

If you’re concerned about the condition of your plumbing pipes, contact your local licensed and certified plumber today.