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What to Do About Old Pipes in Your Home

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Why Are Old Pipes a Problem?

Quality plumbing is crucial for the integrity of your home. A well-functioning plumbing system ensures a steady flow of clean water, responsible disposal of waste, and the comfort and hygiene of your home's inhabitants. Pipes act as the lifeblood of this all-important system. However, old pipes can present serious problems for the function and safety of your property. In this blog, we are sharing how to spot signs of aging pipes and what to do to restore the function of your plumbing system.

Just like anything else, pipes wear out over time. Depending on the type of material used, as pipes age, they can corrode, leading to leaks that cause water damage and promote the growth of mold. In severe cases, old pipes can even burst, leading to extensive damage. Furthermore, old pipes may be made of inferior materials like lead or galvanized steel, which can leach harmful substances into your water supply. This makes addressing outdated plumbing systems a task that should be addressed urgently.

How to Determine the Age of Your Home’s Pipes

Determining the age of your home's pipes can be achieved through several methods. One common method is to examine any exposed pipes in your basement or crawlspaces for any visible stamps, markings, or dates. Additionally, you can also check the building permit for your home, which will likely indicate the type and age of the pipes installed. If these methods are unsuccessful or inaccessible, a licensed plumber can inspect your pipes and provide a professional assessment of their age and condition.

The most common piping materials used include:

  • Copper: Known for their resilience and reliability, copper pipes have an average lifespan of around 50-70 years.
  • PVC: Typically used in modern homes for their durability and cost-effectiveness, PVC pipes can generally last for 25-40 years but might last a good deal longer with appropriate maintenance.
  • Galvanized Steel: Once popular but now recognized as less safe due to the potential for rust, galvanized steel pipes tend to last around 20-50 years.
  • Cast Iron: Found in older homes, these pipes can last up to 100 years but are often replaced much sooner due to rusting.
  • Lead: Despite their longevity, lead pipes are typically replaced as soon as possible due to health concerns, as lead can leach into the water supply.

The Importance of Maintenance for an Older Plumbing System

Regular professional maintenance is instrumental in extending its lifespan and ensuring its optimal performance. Professional plumbers are equipped with both the knowledge and tools to thoroughly inspect the system, identify potential issues, and perform necessary repairs or replacements before they escalate into costly, damaging problems.

For older homes with galvanized steel or lead pipes, professional maintenance is even more critical due to the higher likelihood of corrosion, leaks, or harmful substances leaching into the water supply. Furthermore, regular maintenance can provide homeowners with peace of mind, knowing their plumbing system is in good hands, which can significantly mitigate the risk of unexpected issues or failures.

When TLC Isn’t Enough: Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Pipes

While investing in the regular maintenance and repair of your old plumbing system is beneficial, there comes a time when replacement is the only viable solution. If your pipes are beyond repair or their material is inherently problematic—such as lead or galvanized steel—it’s imperative to consider a complete plumbing overhaul. In such cases, call in a professional plumber to assess the situation, advise on the best course of action, and undertake the necessary replacements. While there is never a convenient time for pipe replacement, it's a crucial investment that will enhance the safety, efficiency, and value of your property.

Keep an eye out for these signs that it may be time to replace your pipes:

  • Rust: If you notice discoloration, rust, or other forms of visible corrosion on your pipes, it's a clear indication that the material is deteriorating.
  • Leakages: Regular or multiple instances of leaks point to weakened pipes and possibly a failing plumbing system.
  • Discolored Water: If your water is a strange color (brown, yellow, or any other color besides clear), it could be due to rust or corrosion within your pipes.
  • Low Water Pressure: Consistently low water pressure could be a sign that your pipes are blocked or corroded, preventing water from flowing effectively.
  • Unpleasant Smell: A persistently unpleasant smell in your water may be attributed to bacteria or mold growth, indicative of old, failing pipes.
  • Old Age: If you know your pipes are over 50 years old, it's a good idea to consider replacing them before major problems occur.

If you live in Los Angeles, or the Greater Los Angeles area and are struggling with an aging plumbing system, turn to Reliable Home Comfort. Our qualified plumbers specialize in installing and updating piping to ensure you can rely on your plumbing for years to come.

Call us today at (562) 543-5987 for a free estimate on your next service.

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