When your plumbing breaks down it causes problems well beyond just a broken or clogged pipe. Plumbing problems like leaks can lead to damaged furnishings as well as the structure. Clogs can lead to sewer backups and toxic waste in your living space. Your plumbing can fail for a number of reasons, freezing pipes, poor installation and most commonly from age. This begs the questions, is it time to replace your plumbing? Let’s look at the lifespan of your pipes and what causes plumbing to fail.
What are Your Pipes Made From?
The pipes in your house could be made from a variety of materials depending on the age of your home and how long it has been since the plumbing was replaced. Typically when you buy your home and have it inspected the inspection report will tell what type of plumbing has been used. Each type of piping material has its own lifespan and they may determine if you need to replace the plumbing. For instance, brass and copper will both last somewhere between 40-50 years, whereas galvanized steel lasts about 30 years. Cast iron piping can last up to 100 years and modern PVC piping can last forever.
While at first glance you might think, my pipes will last long enough they don’t need to be replaced but that is not the only issue. You also need to take into account the other parts of your plumbing like the joints, mechanical parts and the fixtures in your home. Leaks and water backups can happen regardless of the age of your pipes or the material they are made from.
Your Plumbing is Failing
Two of the most obvious signs that you have plumbing problems are clogs and leaks. You may even be able to see cracks in the pipe or you will find leaks near your sink, dishwasher or tub. You may find the floor warped or water stains in your ceiling or floor. You may also notice low water pressure that can mean you have a crack in the pipes coming into your home.
Clogs are noticeable when your tub or sink is very slow to drain, you may even hear gurgling that indicates there is air getting trapped in your pipes. You can grab a plumbing snake at your local hardware store and try and clear out the clog. When that doesn’t work it is time to call a plumber to find and remedy the clogged pipes.
Repair or Replace Your Plumbing
Removing clogs and replacing taps and things is normal homeowner maintenance and for the most part you don’t need a plumber. These are projects you can easily handle on your own. Big problems tend to be less visible, you will have clogs that are in the pipes underground or behind a wall. When or if that time comes then you can speak with a plumber about replacing the pipes.
If you plan on doing a major renovation to your bathroom or kitchen that is another time to consider replacing any outdated piping. If you already have the walls open then you can inspect the joints and see what should be replaced.