If you are in an older home, you may have wondered at one time or another how long pipes typically last. As with many other questions, the answer is, “It depends.” While the vast majority of pipes can last for several decades, it can be hard to tell whether or not the ones in your home are approaching the end of their lifespan. Here are some general guidelines that can give you an idea of how much longer you can expect your pipes to work, but to be 100 percent sure you should have them checked by a professional plumber.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issues guidelines that give homeowners a basic idea of how long pipes typically last. However, just because your pipes may be older than the different age groups provided below, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to immediately call someone to have them replaced. On the other hand, you can’t simply assume that you’ll be OK because your pipes may have a lot of years before they reach what experts believe would be the end of the road. There are several factors that go into determining whether or not a pipe needs to be replaced, such as whether or not they have been well maintained or whether or not your area has hard water. Hard water has a lot of minerals that can cause clogs and other problems.
Here are the “rules of thumb” in terms of how long pipes typically last, depending on the material of which they’re made:
- Copper – 50 years or more
- Brass – 40-70 years
- Galvanized steel – 20-50 years
- PVC – Indefinite
Polybutylene Could be a Problem
From the 1970s to the 1990s, polybutylene piping was used in a lot of homes in Texas and also throughout the rest of the Sun Belt. It was also commonly used in the Pacific Northwest as well as many Mid-Atlantic states. The problem with this gray, plastic material is that it breaks very easily. Even though the outside of the pipes may appear fine, they are prone to flaking from the inside out and often fail without warning. If you have this type of material, you should have a plumbing inspection performed as soon as possible.
Again, these are only general guidelines regarding how long pipes typically last. You won’t know for sure whether your pipes are in good or bad shape unless you have them checked by an expert. Call Benjamin Franklin Plumbing® of Dallas at (972) 895-7775 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.