Factors like age, water hardness, clogs and lack of maintenance can cause pipes to deteriorate. Leaks could then pop up, possibly letting water and even sewage into different areas of your home.
It’s important to observe your pipes and consider upgrading them before the problems start. Plus, the sooner you check, the more cost-effective replacing your plumbing will be.
Lifespan of different pipes
Homeowners should be familiar with the kind of pipes running through the walls, as well as their expected lifespan. Review your home inspection report to see the piping.
Here are some basic lifespans for popular pipe materials:
Supply pipes: These pipes run through the home and deliver water to different faucets. They are under constant pressure, are the most likely to spring a leak, and are prone to causing water damage. They are typically made of:
- Brass: 80-100 year lifespan
- Copper: 70-80 year lifespan
- Galvanized steel: 80-100 year lifespan
Drain lines: The piping system used to remove sewage, grey water and other wastes from your home are called drain lines. They are an integral part of the drain waste vent system and are usually made of:
- Cast iron: 80-100 year lifespan
- PVC: 25-40 year lifespan
When should plumbing be replaced?
No matter the age or condition, both lead and polybutylene pipes should be replaced for health and home protection reasons. Lead pipes were used in the 1900s, and though predicted to last 100 years, can contaminate drinking water and pose serious health risks. Polybutylene pipes were installed for about two decades, from the 1970s to 1990s, and are prone to breakage. Replacing this type of plumbing could save you from future flood cleanup.
Inspect exposed pipes regularly if your home is more than 60 years old. Piping that runs in basements, crawlspaces and utility rooms are indicative of what’s happening within your walls. If the exposed pipes are beginning to fail, it’s likely the piping you can’t see is also in need of replacement.
Observe your home’s water color after you’ve been gone for a while. A yellow color signifies pipe decay and rust could be seeping into your water.
Replacing all the plumbing in an average home–about 1,500 square feet–with copper piping will cost roughly $8,000 to $10,000. The best way to determine the cost of new plumbing for your home is to get an estimate from a trusted plumber.