Replumbing a property is a big and expensive job. But if you have very old pipes, it may be necessary. Over time, plumbing can corrode or fur up causing problems. In some cases, old plumbing may even be a health hazard. This post details some of the problems with old pipes and some of the signs that it could be time to replace them.
The problem with old pipes
There are many issues with old pipes. These include:
Many old pipes develop rust. Eventually, parts of the pipes can corrode away causing leaks. A leak can be messy and expensive to repair (and smelly if it’s a sewage leak). Leaks can also be a health hazard because they can encourage mould growth and cause water damage to walls and beams that over time can weaken your home’s structural integrity. Some leaks are easy to detect, but others can go unnoticed causing invisible damage to the structure of your home and high water bills.
Pipes can also become blocked. This is most common with sewage pipes, however, water supply pipes can also develop blockages of limescale and rust. Sewage pipe blockages can lead to overflowing sewage, which is unpleasant and a health hazard. Water supply blockages may meanwhile result in reduced water pressure and possible contamination.
Many old pipes (particularly hot water pipes) can start to develop rust inside. While rust itself is not harmful, it can allow other contaminants to become trapped and multiply. Old pipes may harbour legionella which can be very dangerous. There is also the serious risk of lead poisoning in very old pipes made from lead. The likes of a legionella risk assessment and lead water test could be worth carrying out to determine whether your water is contaminated (lead pipes are usually worth replacing regardless of whether there is lead extract in the water due to the risk of poisoning).
Signs you need to replace your home’s pipes
There are a few telltale signs that it could be time to replace your home’s pipes. These include:
Reddish or brownish water is a sign that there is a lot of rust in your pipes. This means that a blockage or a leak is likely to occur in the near future. Discoloration may not necessarily mean that water is unhealthy to drink, but you’ll probably still not want to drink it as it will likely have a metallic taste. Replumbing your home could be necessary in this situation.
Low water pressure
If your water pressure has steadily been decreasing, it could be a sign that your pipes are getting more and more furred up from corrosion. A drop in water pressure could also be due to a leak. In many cases, it is not a good sign – your pipes are likely corroded and may need replacing.
Visible pipe damage
While many pipes around the home are hidden, there are likely to be some external visible pipes running through cupboards or along your basement ceiling. Check what condition these pipes are in. If they look pretty rusted up, it could be a sign a replacement is needed. If you’ve already experienced multiple leaks due to corrosion, then this is a clear sign that your pipes need replacing.