Replace Sections of Water Pipes or Re-Piping Entire Home or Building

Water pipes spring leaks or even burst. 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.

Water pressure, turbulence and minerals build up in water pipes, causing them to erode from the inside out. In some cases, the copper pipe that was originally installed was defective. The pipes may have been damaged during transport or installation. The older the water pipe, the more likely you are to have the same problem later in another section of the pipe.

Water Pipe Leak in Wall can Simulate Slab Leak

When homeowners notice a sudden spike in their water usage, their first fear is a slab leak. If they first hire a slab leak specialist, often specialists diagnose the problem as a slab leak. Many times, however, rather than the leak originating in the slab it actually comes from a pipe in the wall. Water can drip from a cracked wall pipe and drain down into the slab. Then the specialized acoustic equipment picks up sound of the water running along the floor. When, in fact, it is a more less-costly fix. Read more here about situations that can simulate a slab leak.

Cost & Life Expectancy of PEX vs Copper Water Pipes

PEX vs Copper Water Pipe pros and cons

PEX Pipes are about half the cost of copper pipes. PEX is estimated to last about 40 years while copper averages about 70 years. (according to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors.)

To save money, some customers opt for PEX (Cross-Linked Polyethylene) pipe since it is 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.

We inspect the condition of your current pipe and then recommend how much to replace.

Then we describe the differences between residential grade and commercial grade copper. We can help you decide if either of those copper pipe choices would be best to re-pipe that section.

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.

Why Would you Replace Water Pipes in Your Home?

If the pipes are old and showing signs of possible water leakage, you’d be wise to replace water pipes in your entire home. It makes sense to replace the pipes BEFORE they burst and cause water damage.

Many homes and businesses in Fallbrook and Vista were built prior to 1960.Galvanized pipe was the standard then. So if your home or business structure was built prior to 1960 odds are that galvanized iron, steel pipes or cast iron 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.

Cast iron pipes have been used for centuries. According to Wikipedia, cast iron has been used since the 17th century. Some cast iron pipes can reportedly last up to 100 years. In practice, however, the average age of a failing water main that breaks is 47 years. So if your home was built before 1972 and has has cast iron or galvanized iron, you’re pressing your luck if the pipes have never been replaced.

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.

galvanized water pipe corrosion

Corrosion builds up inside galvanized pipes. They also contain lead.

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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.

How to Know if Your Home Has Old Galvanized Water 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.

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 Pipes

If you can’t tell what types of 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.
  • is an ivory or white color and a magnet doesn’t stick to it, then it’s plastic.
  • 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.
  • 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.

For Peace of Mind and Help Prevent Major Flood Damage Due to Defective Water Pipes, Just Call Us! We’ll inspect them. Call us for a free phone quote.

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. Before we start any plumbing job, we always check your pressure regulator and identify what is causing low water pressure.

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.

We replace galvanized pipes by re-piping pipes in homes and buildings. This picture shows rust in a sink caused by rusted galvanized pipe.
This rust is an indication of old galvanized pipes that have rusted.

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 – 760-594-1226

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.

We also inspect, repair and install sewer and gas lines.

For a list of blog posts on plumbing tips, click here.

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