Household plumbing materials usually have a lifespan of almost a century. It depends on upon the consistency of maintenance and the hardness of the local water. However, a century is not perpetual and repiping one’s home is a disruptive and expensive endeavour that may require pulling up hardwood floorings and tearing down structural walls. Take note of the following red flags that warns you it is time to repipe:
If your taps draw out murky and brown/yellowish water then it may be caused by some local repairs on the main lines and will just stop as soon as the project is done. If your water runs red, then this is a symptom that it contains rust. If the discoloration is only present in hot water, you may need to have your hot water systems serviced. But if both cold and hot water taps deliver dirty water that has a metallic taste, the problem may be caused by corroded pipes.
A single leak could indicate multiple leaks around your home. Since your pipelines are generally under the same amount of pressure, they can deteriorate over time. Consult a professional to diagnose the issue.
Pipes are past their prime
Aged pipes certainly lose their optimum quality. Take note of the standard lifespan of your piping materials.
Supply Lines – deliver water into your home
- Copper (70 – 80 years)
- Galvanized Steel (80 – 100 years)
- Brass (80 – 100 years)
Drain Lines – allow wastewater and sewage exit your home
Cast iron (up to 100 years)
Polyvinyl Chloride/PVC (up to 40 years)
Low Water Pressure
Low water pressure is a tell-tale sign that you may have to repipe your home but it can be also be caused by a lot of factors. Try to check the PRV (pressure relief valve) and ensure it is not closed or damaged. If there is only a single shower head that or tap that has a weak flow, clearing the aerator from sediments should fix it. In case only the hot water trickles then you may have to check on your hot water system. Additionally, conduct a water metre leak test to detect leaks.
If these procedures fail to detect the cause of low pressure, the problem may have originated from rusting and accumulated debris within the pipes. Usually, old copper piping is susceptible to pinhole corrosion while old galvanised pipes are vulnerable to interior rust.
Lead or Polybutylene
This certainly is a fatal red flag for repiping. It was recognised in the mid-twentieth century that lead pipes cause harmful health effects. Although the use of lead pipe is not common in Australia, lead-based solders, copper pipes, and brass fittings were still up until 1989. Whenever these plumbing parts are corroded, there is a high possibility that lead may leach into the water. Hence, the hazard lies in the first consumption of first flush water, such as the first cup of coffee in the morning.
The use of lead-based solder is banned by the Australian Standard AS 2500 Part 1.2 in 1998 stating that soft solder shall not contain more than 0.1% lead by weight. Since manufacturers are not mandated to label their product as inappropriate for drinking water pipes, homeowners should be on guard with DIY (do-it-yourself) plumber jobs.
There is polybutylene piping consisting of an inexpensive resin that was used as an alternative for the more pricey copper piping. However, the disinfectant process in local water systems creates a by-product that is corrosive to the polybutylene. This often exposes the pipes to fractures and breaks.
Repiping alleviates you from the stress-inducing malfunctioning of your plumbing system. You can do this in stages like doing first all accessible plumbing in the basements, attics and crawlspaces, and then a lot the other plumbing parts for later renovations. If you suspect it is time to upgrade your pipes, contact your trusted plumber so he can tailor out the best treatment to improve your home. Moreover, having a routine maintenance for your plumbing system greatly reduces future repairs.