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 aren’t sure what kind of pipes you have in your Houston home, the easiest way to find out is by using a magnet. Because galvanized pipes are made of raw steel, which is dipped in a corrosion-resistant zinc coating that prevents rust, the magnet will stick to them. If the magnet doesn’t stick to your pipes, they’re made of a different material.
When investigating the types of pipes in your home, make sure that you place the magnet on multiple points across the plumbing system. This is important because old plumbing systems often contain various types of pipes, which are made of different materials.
Scratching the surface of a pipe with the help of a coin or tool that has a flat edge is another method you could use to determine the types of pipes you have. If the scraped area is dull gray, the pipe is made of galvanized steel. If it’s shiny silver, it’s made of lead. If you can’t tell the difference between the two, you should place a magnet on the scrapped area and check if it sticks to it. If the pipe has a different color, it’s made of a different material, such as cast iron, copper, brass, or polyethylene.
Although most piping materials have a long lifespan, aging along with normal wear and tear will eventually damage pipes and connectors. Once a pipe or connector deteriorates, it could lead to structural damage if it’s not taken care of right away. Besides the fact that plumbing leaks could cause irreversible damage to your Houston home, extensive structural repairs can run into tens of thousands of dollars – which is way more expensive than it might cost to fix a minor leak or repipe your home with PEX piping.
Another aspect you should be aware of is that your homeowner’s insurance policy may not cover damage caused by old galvanized pipes. That’s because most insurers exclude coverage for plumbing issues that result from poor maintenance as well as certain types of pipes, including galvanized steel pipes. Considering all of the above, it’s advisable to have your plumbing system inspected and replaced before it’s too late.
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!