First it’s helpful to understand the normal life expectancy of plumbing pipes, based on the material:
Water supply pipes
- Brass - up to 70 years (but may contain traces of lead)
- Copper - up to 50 years
- Galvanized steel - 20 to 50 years
- Cast iron - up to 100 years
- Polyvinylchloride (PVC) - Indefinitely
How to determine if you need re-piping
If your home is more than 50 years old, or hasn’t been remodeled in the last 50 years, you probably have pipes that need replacing. Here are a few tips for determining whether or not you might need repiping.
- Look at your exposed pipes for evidence of corrosion, like flaking, stains, dimpling, or discoloration.
- Yellow or brown water coming from the faucets in your sinks or tubs is a sign of decaying pipes.
- Leaks are the most obvious sign of all. If they’re not due to weather (e.g. frozen pipes bursting), or if it’s becoming a regular occurrence, it’s likely time to replace the pipes.
- Low water pressure can be the result of rust or mineral build-up inside old pipes and be an indicator that you’ll need to replace them soon.
Bad Pipe Material
If you discover your home has either polybutylene or lead piping, you should get your house re-piped as soon as possible.
- Polybutylene - This gray plastic material was used for plumbing pipes in the 1970s through the 1990s. The chlorine in public water supplies causes these pipes to become brittle and flake from the inside out. Although they may look fine on the exterior, they could suddenly break down without warning.
- Lead - Lead lasts. And because it has a life expectancy of 100 years, lead piping still remains in a lot of older homes. Unfortunately it can get into your drinking water, where it is potentially a serious health hazard.
If your plumbing pipes are old and breaking down, it can create many unnecessary (and expensive) problems. Whether you think your home needs repiping or just minor repairs, Michael’s Plumbing can help. Schedule your next appointment online today! We’re available 24/7.