Old Plumbing Requires Replacement By Henco Plumbing Services, LLC Vancouver WA

Is It Time To Replace Your Old Plumbing Pipes?

The biggest problem with older plumbing is quite simply that it gives out over time and is subject to breakdown. Once corrosion and rust start in plumbing pipes, the process can proceed slowly over a period of twenty, thirty, or even forty years. Once the damage reaches a critical point, the pipes will leak or burst, causing flooding on floors, underneath the home, or in the walls. Sewer and water pipes can also break in the ground between the water main or sewer main lines and the connection to the community services entering from the street. When any of these pipes break the situation usually requires a major repipe project. Do you need help right now? Call us at 360-773-8039.

Why Do Old Plumbing Pipes Breakdown?

Galvanized Pipes

We always recommend replacing galvanized pipes as soon as possible to avoid disastrous home flooding when (not if) the piping gives out.

What is galvanized pipe? A galvanized pipe is a pipe constructed of steel, then dipped in a liquid zinc bath to add a coating that will prevent rust and corrosion. Home built prior to 1960 often used galvanized piping for plumbing. Galvanized pipe was invented as a safe alternative the lead pipe that had been used for water pipes. However, after many years of exposure to water, the galvanized pipe will rust and corrode on the inside of the pipe. This corrosive effect will eventually ruin the pipe so it will leak and/or burst.

Here’s information about old plumbing pipes from author Jim Mallery in an article in This Old House. He points out issues with galvanized pipes and problems with old sewer line pipes.

Old plumbing problem no. 1: galvanized pipes

For a quick test of an old house, turn on the hot water. If the pressure is low, the house probably has galvanized pipes that have corroded and plugged up. The hot-water pipes are the first to go.

The house could have good pressure in the hot-water lines, but still have unseen galvanized-pipe problems. It is possible that only the bad pipes were replaced, leaving lots of old galvanized pipes still in the house and either in need or soon-to-be-in need of replacement.

Old plumbing problem no. 2: sewer line

Plumbing isn’t confined to the house. It begins and ends at the street.
On the supply side, all piping on the house side of the meter belongs to the homeowner, and everything on the street side belongs to the water district. The meter should have a dial that shows minute water flow, so that if you turn off all the water inside the house, and the dial still moves, there is a leak in the system somewhere.

If the house is on a sewer line, the homeowner owns the line from the house to the street, and that line can be worrisome in old houses.

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As Jim points out, galvanized pipe is a serious problem. Notice that he discusses the home sewer line, which is often ignored by home buyers and home owners. Left unattended, an old sewer line can create absolute chaos. Make certain to get the sewer line scoped before you consider purchasing an older home.

Jen Spends by Jennifer Roberts has an in-depth personal story about Jen’s home purchase that resulting in major plumbing headaches. Jennifer goes into a great deal of detail in this article; we’ll point out the highlights. The article features excellent images of the plumbing inside the walls that required replacement. You don’t need to be flipping houses,like Jennifer, to make certain you budget for professional plumbing repairs whenever you find damage from older pipes.

This old sink trap requires replacement

What Lies Beneath: Old House Plumbing Problems

Old House Plumbing Problems

Our house was a flip, and while it was pretty to look at, it quickly became clear that much of the work had been about putting lipstick on a pig, not properly rehabilitating an old house. I give the contractor credit for not taking to the beautiful woodwork with spray paint, but I was frustrated that minimal work was done to the mechanics.

As part of the buying process, I walked through the house with a home inspector to make sure there were no deal-breaking problems, and to take note of the repairs we would need to make. . . .

Look before you leap

Based on my experiences so far, I can give the following old house advice:

Before you buy, find out if the plumbing has been updated and to what extent. Plan to replace old plumbing made from materials that won’t hold up, even if it doesn’t seem to be a problem. It eventually will be.

Talk to neighbors about which contractors they would recommend. My neighbor recommended a plumber who has replaced plumbing in old houses being converted into apartments — I knew that was the kind of experience I needed.

Get a second opinion before you start any work. Gutting my bathroom wouldn’t have given the plumber the access he needed, and I would have wrecked things that could have remained intact. His walkthrough was free and his insight was invaluable.

Don’t spend money on decorative finishes until the mechanics are taken care of. I have grand plans for my kitchen, but I’m glad I didn’t paint yet — my work would have been ruined, and money wasted.

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Jennifer makes some great recommendations. The main point here is – take the time to get as much information as possible before buying an older home. You can save yourself both money and time long term by hiring a professional plumber to perform a thorough inspection. Find out if there are plumbing problems prior to purchase; if you do find problems you should negotiate a better sales price. Get an estimate of the plumbing damage that requires repair then deduct that amount from your offer to purchase.

Here’s a video showing what happens to old pipes – it’s “not a pretty picture” plus this can really cost you money.

It is very clear from this video that old galvanized pipes will deteriorate. In homes pre-1980 with galvanized pipes, you are almost guaranteed to have issues.

Home inspectors will check for broken pipes and for piping that is considered substandard or in violation of building codes. There are some pipes that are considered illegal, so make certain your home inspector will check for that as well. For example, as of August 2010, pipes made of polybutylene (PB) are banned for household use throughout the United States.

You Need A Professional

We specialize in home and commercial building plumbing inspections. We can scope your pipes, we can hydro jet blocked and clogged pipes and we perform total plumbing repipe services. Henco Plumbing Services is a plumbing contractor; that means we do the big jobs. A repipe project, like total sewer main or water main line replacement, can be costly and you need a true professional plumbing company to do the job right the first time.

If you have questions about your plumbing, call us at (360)773-8039 or fill out our Contact form. We’ll schedule an appointment to inspect your plumbing and make recommendations based on industry best practices.

Resources: Repipe Services
Images: Jen Spends

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