Plumbing pipes in your house run last for a fairly long time if they are installed correctly. Though the service life of plumbing pipes can vary depending on the material, you can use these pipes for a few decades. When the pipes become old, they start showing various signs that indicate it is time to replace water lines.
So, what are the signs you need to replace your plumbing pipes? Cracks, leaks, and corrosion are the prime signs of old plumbing pipes. Besides, lower water pressure and irregular color or smell of water also indicate that you need to replace the pipes.
Learn how to identify these problems and when you need a pipe replacement.
The signs can vary depending on the pipe material, age, and other factors. Here is a detailed overview of the signs you should watch out for.
Water Color Is Unusual
The first thing you notice while using the plumbing system is the water coming through it. Usually, the water should be clean and have no color at all. If the water coming from your faucets is yellowish, brownish, or reddish, something is wrong with the system.
Especially galvanized steel pipes can deliver yellow water. But you shouldn’t call a plumber to replace the pipes yet.
- First of all, check if the water coming from all faucets in the house has the same color.
- Run the faucets in the kitchen and bathroom.
- Collect water from different faucets in different glasses and compare the color. If they all look the same, you should stop using the water.
- Run the same test the next day and do this for a few days.
A problem in the main supply line might cause the problem. If the problem remains after a few days, it indicates the plumbing pipes are rusty.
Accordingly, iron pipes are more prone to rusting. If you see rust particles in the water, it is time to call for plumbing pipe replacement.
Water Smells or Tastes Off
If the plumbing pipes are in good shape, the water shouldn’t have any smell or taste. But if there is rust or corrosion in pipes, the water might have an off smell or taste. In the beginning, you might not get an intense smell. But tasting the water won’t feel like before.
After some time, the water will start smelling bad. This is because the plumbing system has faults, and odors from outside the system are invading the pipes. If the problem doesn’t go away after a few days, you should replace the plumbing pipes.
Water Pressure Will Decrease
Though you can’t measure the water pressure with a gauge every time you use the faucet, the change in pressure will be noticeable. If the water pressure drops suddenly, the problem is probably with the water heater. Get a plumber to check if the heater is malfunctioning.
But if the pressure change is slow but constant, leaked pipes can be the main cause. Iron pipes get corroded over time and develop leaks in the system. The pressure drops at openings like faucets or showers as the water exits the system through these leaks.
Cracks, Leaks, and Corrosion
Even if there aren’t any of the above signs, you should periodically check the plumbing system for cracks, leaks, and corrosion. Cracks are related to the age of the plumbing pipes. So, you should check more frequently when the pipes are twenty or more years old.
If the pipes are hidden behind a wall or floor, look for wet spots on the wall or floor. It indicates cracks in the plumbing pipes.
Rust can often cause leaks in plumbing pipes. Sometimes, the pipe joints can be leaky due to cracked seals. If you continue to use the system, the leaks will grow over time.
And corrosion commonly happens in galvanized steel pipes. If you throw any corrosive material in the kitchen sink or wash basin, it will reach the pipes and cause corrosion. When you see any of these signs, know that pipe replacement is necessary.
The Plumbing System Is Too Old
If your house was made in the last century, chances are the plumbing pipes have reached the end of their service life. So, how do you know if your pipes are bad? Galvanized steel pipes used at that time can last for about 20-30 years. Copper pipes last for a bit longer, but you should still get the system checked.
Plumbing pipes that are too old should be replaced even if you see minor signs of cracks or leaks. These issues will escalate quickly and might damage your house.
It mostly depends on the pipe material.
- Galvanized steel pipes should be changed after 20-50 years.
- Brass and copper pipes should be changed after 50 years.
- And if you have cast iron pipes, those should be changed after 70-100 years.
If you want a more specific timeframe, check the formula for calculating the replacement schedule of water lines. But it might be a bit too hectic for non-professionals. So, it is better to rely on the average service life of the pipes.
Check answers to some frequently asked questions about plumbing pipe replacement.
A: The total cost to replace plumbing in an old house depends on many factors. If you consider a 2,000 sq. ft. house, the pipe replacement cost can be anywhere between $4,000 and $15,000.
A: PVC or PPR pipes will last for longer. According to tests, PVC pipes should have a service life of more than 100 years.
A: Yes. Corrosion will lead to cracks and leaks in the system, resulting in damaged walls or floors. So, you should replace corroded plumbing pipes before they cause severe damage.
The plumbing system keeps a house livable by supplying clean water. But if a house is too old, plumbing problems can occur often. From minor cracks to exploding pipe joints, plumbing problems can be heavy on your pocket. To be on the safe side, you should replace the pipes when they show the above signs.
We talked about five signs you need to replace your plumbing pipes. Some of these signs are too obvious, but you should always be careful about the other signs. Whenever you see any change in the plumbing system, you shouldn’t ignore the signs and be late to call a professional plumber.