Re-Piping Water Pipes

Replace Sections of Water Pipe Up to Re-Piping Entire Structure

Leaks can spring from water pipes. Often, just that section of pipe can be replaced. It might be a pinhole leak near the water main or near an elbow or coupling. That’s where the most water pressure builds up and can erode even a copper pipe over time. Pipes erode from the inside out from water pressure, turbulence and minerals that build up. In some cases, leaks are caused by defective copper piping installed. They may have been damaged during transport or installation. But if the pipe is older, you might have the same problem later down the pipe line in another section.

Re-Pipe with Copper or PEX Pipe

We inspect the condition of your current pipe and then recommend how much to replace and whether residential grade or commercial grade copper would be best to re-pipe that section. To save money, some customers opt for PEX (Cross-Linked Polyethylene) pipe since it’s roughly half the cost of copper. Other customers are concerned about unknown health issues that could be arise years from now with PEX (a type of plastic) pipes for drinking water. After we inspect the water pipes, we go over the pros and cons of each type of pipe replacement option and the costs associated with each one before we start work on re-piping.

Average Life Expectancy of Water Pipes

According to an independent report from the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI), copper water pipes last an average of 70 years. PEX water pipes, while about half the price of copper, last a little less than half the time — 40 years before needing replacement.

Why Would You Want to Replace Water Pipes in Your Entire House?

The primary reason for replacing pipes in an entire home is if the pipes are old and showing signs of possible water leakage. It makes sense to replace the pipes BEFORE they burst and cause water damage.

If your home or business structure was built prior to 1960, and many homes in Fallbrook and Vista were, odds are that galvanized iron and steel pipes were used. They were the standard before 1960. Galvanized pipe was invented to replace lead pipe for water supply lines. After decades of exposure to water, however, galvanized pipes corrode and rust on the inside. That corrosion is similar to plaque in our arteries. When it builds up, it can cause a variety of problems. The worst scenario, of course, would be flooding.

After 1960, most construction used copper pipes which are still the current standard. Around 1980, PEX pipes were introduced as a cheaper alternative to copper. Today, both copper and PEX are commonly used.

Here’s How to Know if Your Older Home has Galvanized Pipes

If your tap water first thing in the morning comes out looking yucky and you have to let it run for while, odds are you have old galvanized pipes. That dirty-looking water is corrosion and rust.

When new, galvanized pipes are the color of a nickel. But as they age, they appear much duller. If they’ve been painted, it can be difficult to tell by just looking.

Easy way to Identify the Type of Water Pipes

If you can’t tell what types of water pipes you have, get a hard object like a screwdriver and a strong magnet. Find your water line and scratch the outside of the pipe.

  • If the scratched area looks like a copper penny and the magnet doesn’t stick to it, then the pipe is copper.
  • If the scratched area is an ivory or white color and a magnet doesn’t stick to it, then it’s plastic.
  • If the scratched area has a dull silver-gray color and the magnet doesn’t stick to it, then it’s lead. If you have lead pipes, consider replacing them as soon as possible because lead leaches and has been proven to cause serious health problems.
  • If the scratched area is a nickel shade and a magnet sticks to it, it’s galvanized pipe.

More than one type of piping may be in your water line, especially if your home is older. Sections may have been replaced over time. So be sure to scratch test your pipes in multiple areas.

Do galvanized pipes contain lead?

The short answer is yes. Between 1880 and 1960 galvanized pipes were dipped in molten, naturally occurring zinc. Naturally occurring zinc contains impurities, among them is lead. While the zinc coating makes the iron and steel pipes last longer, lead and other substances coming from the impure zinc could be harmful.

If your galvanized pipes were ever connected to lead plumbing, old water district service lines for example, it’s even more of a health concern. The corrosion inside galvanized steel pipes could have trapped small pieces of the lead. Even if the lead piping was removed years ago, the galvanized steel pipes could still release the trapped lead into the water flow.

The only way to be sure lead isn’t coming from plumbing is to fully replace the galvanized plumbing and any lead service lines.

What other problems can galvanized pipes cause?

Here’s a list of potential problems galvanized pipes can cause:

Low Water Pressure
Corrosion in galvanized pipes can cause lower water pressure throughout your home.

Uneven Water Distribution
Corrosion usually builds up unevenly. So if some of your taps have low water pressure, but others don’t, this could be a symptom of aging galvanized pipes.  Also, part of the galvanized pipe line could have been replaced in your home, but not everywhere.

Water Discoloration
Older galvanized pipes can release iron, causing discolored fixtures. You might notice a brown stain on a porcelain sink for example.

Leaks
Given enough time, galvanized pipes will rust through and cause more damage to your home.

To read what the government says about the problems and usage of galvanized iron and steel, visit the GSA site by clicking here.

If you’re concerned about your water pipes, call us. We’ll come by and inspect your water pipes. After looking it all over carefully, we’ll go over your options and give you a quote. If your home has a combination of plumbing materials, it may be possible to replace just a few areas.