Why Old Plumbing Pipes are a Concern

Suppose your charming old home has equally old plumbing pipes. In that case, an evaluation from Core Plumbing, the premier plumbing professional in Carmel Valley, will shine a light on any future plumbing problems.

Read on to learn more about what you can do about old plumbing pipes in your home.

Types of Old Plumbing Pipes

When you buy a home, part of the disclosure for the property usually includes the types of pipes and age of the plumbing system. Following inspection, the home inspector may also have information to add to this. In a pinch, you can locate any exposed pipes in your home under the sinks or in the basement if there is one.

Plumbers frequently installed galvanized steel pipes in homes before the 1960s. Cast iron pipes were standard in homes before 1975. Old galvanized piping has some particular issues that we will discuss later.

You’ll often find copper piping in homes built after the 1930s, though it mainly became prevalent after the 1960s. Today, most homes have a mixture of copper and plastic piping.

Problems with Old Plumbing Pipes

Old plumbing pipes raise considerable concerns with plumbers for various reasons. As the years pass and knowledge about construction materials expands, plumbing codes change. This means that top-quality and safe plumbing from a few decades ago may no longer be up to local and national building codes.

Galvanized Steel Pipes

When galvanized steel pipes debuted in new homes in the late nineteenth century, they were shiny and innovative, and homeowners clamored for them. However, as time and use wore away the zinc coatings that kept them shiny and safe, the pipes gradually gave way to rust, mineral deposits built up, and the pipes released dangerous heavy metals.

Old plumbing systems with galvanized piping are prone to several different plumbing problems, including:

  • Low pressure and clogs
  • Rust deposits
  • Poor water quality

Poor water quality is the most severe concern with degraded galvanized pipes because of the danger of toxic lead buildup. When galvanized pipes corrode and rust, the lead within the zinc coating may be released and seep into the drinking water.

Even in small doses, lead is hazardous and causes numerous health problems. Children are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning and can suffer permanent damage from exposure. Symptoms of lead poisoning include:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Reduced cognitive abilities
  • Weight loss
  • A metallic taste in the mouth

Contact your local plumbers at Core Plumbing if you suspect that your home’s pipes are galvanized and deteriorated. We can assess your old plumbing pipes and determine if you need re-piping.

Signs Your Pipes are in Trouble

Age, hard water, and poor maintenance all take their toll on your old plumbing pipes. If your home’s plumbing system is old and you are experiencing any of the following “symptoms” of trouble, contact your plumber for an inspection. After assessing the system, they may recommend replacing a section of pipe or the whole system.

  • Consider repair or replacement if you notice any of the following:
  • Discolored water
  • Frequent plumbing backups
  • Leaks
  • Mold anywhere in your home
  • Slow drains
  • Odor of sewer gas

An unusual sign that could indicate a pipe problem is if the lawn near your underground pipes is unusually healthy. While sewage is not good for humans, it is an excellent fertilizer. If you have a greener lawn than your neighbors and don’t have a landscaper on-call, your exterior pipe material may have cracked.

Tips for Protecting Your Old Pipes

If your old plumbing pipes are still hanging in, you may want to wait before tackling a complete re-piping. There are things you can do to help protect your old pipes and extend their lives.

Avoid Chemical Drain Cleaners

Slow drains and clogged pipes are common in old homes, and it may be tempting to dump chemical drain cleaners into your drains to clear the clogs. While they will help temporarily, the highly acidic drain cleaner liquids, gels, and foams will speed up the deterioration inside old pipes.

Enzyme cleaners, a mixture of vinegar and baking soda, or some old-fashioned plunging are the recommended course for old pipes. If they are unsuccessful, call your plumber.

Keep the Outside of Pipes Rust-Free

If you have galvanized pipes that are still working safely, you can keep them going by cleaning the rust from the pipe’s exterior. Steel wool and a touch of vinegar will remove rust from small areas. For more severe rust and corrosion, call in a professional for help.

Patch Holes and Cracks

Small leaks in a pipe can become large ones quickly. If you’re not ready to tackle pipe replacement, patch any cracks in your pipes with a plumber’s putty or use a pipe repair tape. You can also seal joints and holes with these materials. These are temporary solutions, but they can save you time and water damage until you can get your pipes replaced.

Ready for a Pipe Replacement?

When you are ready for a pipe replacement, call Core Plumbing. We use the latest materials, including copper and PVC piping.

If you already have copper piping in your home or need your water lines replaced, copper piping is the way to go. They are durable and withstand extreme temperatures more reliably than other pipes. Copper pipes are also non-toxic, lightweight, and, though initially expensive, offer great value because they need little maintenance.

PVC is the top choice for all other plumbing in new home constructions. It does not rust over corrode and, when compared to galvanized steel pipes and cast-iron pipes, it is a superior pipe material.

At Core Plumbing, we’re here to help you with all of your plumbing issues, including old plumbing pipes and pipe replacement. We provide professional plumbing services throughout the Greater San Diego area, including Chula Vista, Escondido, La Jolla, Oceanside, etc.

To learn about the advantages of installing plastic pipes or to book an appointment for an inspection, call us today at 858-538-6025.