Galvanized Pipes - When & Why to Have Them Replaced

Galvanized Pipes - When & Why to Have Them Replaced

If your home was built before 1960, when galvanized pipes were the standard for plumbing, there is a good chance that you still have these types of pipes in your home, unless they were replaced in the past 50 years or so. Knowing what types of pipes you have and how old they are is imperative if you wish to prevent a series of problems.

How to Identify Galvanized Pipes

If you are unsure what kind of pipes are in your home, there are some easy ways to tell which type you have by using a heavy-duty magnet and scratching a little off the surface of the pipe in different areas of the piping with a tool or coin. The reason to check in different regions of the pipes is that there could be upgrades in just a few places and not the entire piping system.

Once you have scraped the surface, the color of the pipes should be as follows:

  • Galvanized Steel Piping –Shows a silver-gray shade, and when you put the heavy-duty magnet up to it, it will attach to it.
  • Copper Piping - Presents as a copper coin, and the magnet does not attach to it.
  • Plastic Piping – The shade of this will be either white or ivory, and there will be no pull on the magnet.
  • Brass Piping – Will be a color of yellow-gold and the magnet will not stick to it.
  • Lead Piping – This is easy to scrape and be silver-gray, the heavy-duty magnet will not adhere to it, but due to possible health issues, it is recommended that if you do have this type of piping, you should replace it as soon as possible. 
  • Cast Iron Piping – This is mainly used for wastewater removal from the residence, but has also been used in other parts of older homes. The color of cast iron is black, and a magnet will stick to it. Cast Iron has a very long lifespan, but problems can start to happen when the pipes deteriorate. It is at this point when having issues with the tubes or breakages that it can end up being very costly for the homeowner for clean up and repair or replacement.

Why and When You Should Replace Galvanized Pipes in Your Home

The typical lifespan of galvanized pipes ranges between 40 and 50 years. Since your home was built before the 1960s, your galvanized pipes have already exceeded their lifespan.

This means that your plumbing system could fail at any time and lead to all sorts of problems, which may range from unexpected plumbing leaks to major foundation damage. To prevent leaky pipes and dripping fixtures along with all the problems they could cause, you should have them checked by a qualified plumbing professional and, if necessary, replaced as soon as possible.

Now that you know that plumbing isn’t meant to last forever, here are a few warning signs that can help you determine when you should replace your galvanized pipes.

A decrease in your water pressure is an early warning sign of plumbing issues. Although lower water pressure can also be caused by water heater problems, a sudden loss of pressure usually occurs when a pipe starts to leak. Additionally, all galvanized pipes eventually rust on the inside after years of exposure to water. The buildup of rust and mineral deposits narrows the inside of the pipes, gradually reducing the water pressure. In extreme cases, pipes can get completely clogged with rust and minerals, preventing the water from flowing through them freely. Regardless of the underlying cause, a clogged pipe can increase the pressure in other parts of the plumbing system, which may lead to leaks or bursts.

Discolored water, residue coming out through your faucets, and recurring water leaks in different parts of your home are some other telltale signs that indicate it’s time to upgrade your plumbing system.

When evaluating your plumbing system, another important thing to determine is the type of material used for the main water supply line. Since galvanized steel was also used for many central water systems, it’s essential to know whether the water supply pipes and connectors have been replaced in the past or not. You can contact your local water supplier to inquire about the type of pipe that delivers water from the main supply line to your home. As well, you can contact us today for more information about replacing your galvanized pipes with PEX piping!

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