Should You Have Your Home's Old Pipes Replaced?

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Spending money on plumbing isn't fun when you have a massive leak that's flooding your basement, so why would you want to spend money on seemingly unnecessary upgrades? Replacing pipes that haven't yet caused hundreds or thousands of dollars in water damage may seem premature, but there are good reasons to consider pipe replacement before disaster strikes. If you own an older home with an older plumbing system, then it is worth considering whether your next renovation should focus on replacing those old pipes.

Why Do Pipes Fail?

Unsurprisingly, pipes can fail for many different reasons, and the causes are often related to the pipe material. Modern PVC piping can theoretically last indefinitely, but it can still suffer failures at joints or through misuse. PVC piping also cannot be used for supply lines since it is not designed for high temperatures, so even newer homes are likely to use copper pipes for these applications. Copper and other metallic pipes generally fail due to corrosion, which can lead to obstructions inside of the pipe or thinning and eventual failure of the pipe walls. Most pipes will eventually corrode, but premature issues can develop due to poor electrical grounding or high water mineral content.

Recognizing Long-Term Pipe Problems

Since most people deal with plumbing only as it fails, it can be challenging to know when a preventative upgrade is a good idea. Aside from a visual inspection, pay attention to how often you are dealing with leaks. Pipes in good condition should rarely spring leaks all by themselves, so fixing leaks several times per year usually means that your home's plumbing requires an upgrade. Since water will attempt to follow the path of least resistance, repairing one leaky section often just results in another leak as the water "finds" the next weakest pipe segment. Many older homes suffer from this whack-a-mole problem, and it can lead to expensive repairs when a leak appears behind a wall or in another difficult-to-reach area.

Checking exposed and visible pipes from time to time is a good idea as well. Copper pipes will often show signs of surface corrosion even if the pipe is in generally good condition, but watch for signs of more severe trouble. Common warning signs include outer portions of the pipe flaking away or sections that appear crumpled or bubbled. All of these unusual symptoms can be indications that the wall of the pipe has become very thin and may begin to leak soon. If your pipes are corroding from the inside, you may also notice discolored water from your faucets.

Get a Professional Opinion

If you think that your pipes may be on their last legs, the best move is to have them evaluated by a professional. A skilled plumber will be able to check your exposed piping for obvious signs of trouble, and maybe even use a camera to check the interior condition of your drains. If your pipes are clearly worn, then an upgrade may be a cost-effective option. Although it will cost you more money upfront, you will save money in the long run and avoid potentially costly water damage repairs.

Contact your local residential plumbing services today to learn more.