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How to Know When to Replace Your Old Plumbing System


Old homes can be charming, majestic, and stately with a story and character not often found in a freshly built house. Consequently, old homes may also come with an enigmatic problem lurking under the floors, behind the walls, and under the ground.

Old plumbing systems can lead to health problems, expensive water bills, and costly repairs if not sorted out. Determine if your old pipes need to be replaced by heeding these warning signs.

Health Problems

Did you know that your pipes can make you sick? While heart, reproductive, and kidney complications are quite ubiquitous across the country, if the adults in your household exhibit these ailments your homes pipes might be leaking lead into your drinking water.

According to the CDC, lead pipes are common in homes that were built before 1986. Older homes built in the early 1900s have a high possibility of having lead pipes as this was a popular plumbing material back then. However, lead pipes only have a lifespan of 100 years, so by now these old pipes are leaching dangerous chemicals into homeowner's drinking water.

Even if you or your family members do not yet experience health problems, it is a good idea to have your water tested. Additionally, call an experienced plumber to come inspect old pipes for safety.

Expensive Bills 

Depending on where you live, water bills can be quite expensive on any given month. However, if you notice your water bill is on the trend upwards without any explanation, you may have leaky pipes. Sometimes water problems can be overt, like a toilet that won't stop running. However, leaks are usually covert, silently sprinkling water behind common areas like the shower, sink, or hot water heater.

If you have multiple leaks over a short span of time it may be more cost effective to upgrade your plumbing system to save you money in the long run.   

Visible Pipes

Check the visible pipes running through the basement as they will be indicators of the condition of the rest of the plumbing throughout the home. Pay attention to any of the following issues:

  • Discoloration  

  • Flaking or peeling

  • Dripping or condensation

  • Dimpling or bulging   

Talk with your plumber if you notice any other unusual problems with your visible pipes to find out if you need an inspection of your plumbing system.

Poor Pressure

Poor water pressure is quite common in older homes, which is often chalked up to the age of the plumbing system. However, poor water pressure could be a more sinister sign of corroded or clogged pipes.  

Low water pressure may come from rust inside galvanized pipes, which are steel pipes coated with zinc to prevent rust and corrosion. Galvanized pipes were especially common in homes built before 1960. However, as soon as the zinc coating wears off, the pipes begin the downward spiral of rusting from the inside out.

If poor water pressure accompanies rusty water, this is a strong sign that galvanized pipes are corroded and are leaking chemicals into the water. Rusty pipes can lead to expensive leaks if they aren't replaced.

Water Puddles

Leaks in a plumbing system are generally not visible to the naked eye. However, if you have water pooling on your lawn, this is a sign of a plumbing problem. If you notice a bad odor, your water or sewage line may be cracked and leaking and need of repair.

At Mike's Plumbing we are experienced in dealing with plumbing systems in older homes. If you're unsure whether you need to upgrade your plumbing system, contact us to schedule an inspection. You can trust our expert opinion to make sure that your plumbing is able to reliably deliver water safely for your family.