How Does Repiping Work?

If you’ve got your emergency plumber number on a refrigerator magnet because, well, things keep breaking down in your home plumbing system, it’s time to take a closer look at that plumbing system. Could be that a repipe may solve all your problems. Repiping is when your incoming cold and hot water lines are replaced with newer materials.

Although waste line pipes can clog, corrode or break, leading to common problems such as a shower won’t drain, standing water in your shower or a clogged drain, to clear a shower drain or clog in your waste water system rarely requires a complete replacement of the line except in extreme cases such as earthquake damage or when major changes are being made to the house that require a whole new orientation to the municipal sewer line or septic tank.

But because it is a big job, we strongly recommend first calling Benjamin Franklin Plumbing® of Eastern Iowa for a home inspection. We will go over:

  • The history of your house, when it was built and what kinds of materials are in use in the plumbing system.
  • The nature of the problems you’ve been having.
  • Your plumbing layout, the work that has been done in the past, any off-code situations and the general character of your house.

Repiping is a big job but when you know before you go, it can be a relatively quick and painless project.

Is My House a Candidate for Repiping?

  • Is your house older? Homes that are over 50 years old most likely have plumbing systems that include galvanized steel pipes. These pipes were commonly installed in the past, but they begin to corrode as the years pass. Even copper pipes can corrode with time. You also may have a plumbing system that has become a patchwork of different materials and perhaps non-standard routing.
  • Frequent leaks from more than one location usually indicate that the system is aging, and the materials used to weld joints and the pipes themselves are failing. If this is the problem, a full plumbing inspection should be performed. If repiping is indicated, in most cases it will cost you less than continuing to call a plumber for repeated emergencies.
  • Your water pressure is getting lower. This is often accompanied by reddish brown water coming out of the faucet. It may be that the brown water is only seen briefly when you turn all the water off and then turn it back on. Old pipes accumulate minerals that become rock hard and constrict the interior diameter of the pipes. Although it may seem counter intuitive, constriction in pipes carrying water reduces water pressure. The only real solution is to replace the affected pipes. Any other solution is temporary and risks catastrophic system failure (think of a bursts water line) that may cause thousands of dollars of damage to your house and take weeks to repair at great costs.
  • You have slab or pinhole leaks. Pipes in your foundation can get corroded for several reasons and cause leaks that can keep areas of your home permanently damp or wet. A pinhole leak is the same type of leak, but above the foundation. This often occurs with an older home that has settled on the foundation and caused corrosion. The issue here is that slab leaks and pinhole leaks may not be very noticeable in the early stages, until the floors begin to crack, and repairs become major operations.
  • Your water bill is rising for no good reason. This may indicate leaking pipes. Certainly, if you turn off the water to the house and still see the water meter wheel turning, you’ve got a leak in your water system.

How is Repiping Done?

It might sound like a huge disruption, but repiping is much simpler than you might think.

  • Benjamin Franklin Plumbing in Cedar Rapids will first thoroughly inspect your home plumbing system. Then we’ll sit down with you and discuss the problems we have identified.
  • We will go over in detail what we’ve discovered in the inspection. If repiping is the solution, we’ll discuss whether a full or partial repipe is needed. Usually it is best to take out all the old pipe at the same time, but sometimes partial renovations have taken place earlier and only the remaining old pipe needs to be replaced. We’ll know the extent of the repiping your home needs and can guide you to the best and most cost-effective options.
  • You may have a choice between copper pipe and PEX, a synthetic and bendable material that is often used today and cost about a third of what copper costs. PEX is rated for indoor use only.
  • We’ll discuss the entire project with you, including all areas that need replacement, how long the job will take and where and when you will have water available during construction. Once you sign off on the job, we can get a city permit to perform the upgrade. The average home takes between 2-5 days. Larger homes may take up to a week, depending upon their condition.
  • Repiping involves cutting small holes in specific wall locations, usually around fixtures, so that pipes can be pulled out. We make only small cuts in walls to disconnect and remove old pipes. Pipes in the flooring can be reached from the ceiling or basement or crawl space below. Every hole creates will be completely repaired and retextured before the job is done. When repiping is complete, it is like we were never there, except you will now have an upgraded and leak-free plumbing system.
  • Once the work is completed, a city inspection will be performed, the walls and any opening we’ve made are repaired.
  • Throughout this project, although it is major construction, we will work with you so that you do not have to move out during the work. You may be briefly without water in parts of your home during the day. For the first day, the water is often turned off from the morning until about dinnertime – we do everything possible to cause the least disruption.

Repiping and Remodeling

Repiping is a common need for older homes. If you are faced with the need for repiping due to old, corroded, or even unhealthy pipes, it is likely time to upgrade your bathroom and kitchen appliances at the same time. You save money getting multiple upgrades performed at the same time. You can visibly upgrade the aesthetics and function of your appliances and give your home a new, fresh look.

If you want to rearrange the location of the toilet, tub or shower, or divide the shower and tub, the rerouting of the underlying plumbing can add to your cost. If you are having a repipe at the same time, chances are much of that cost would be covered by the repipe budget.

Combining the cost of remodeling and repiping also gives you more design options and appliance choices that are right for the home style you are looking to create – at a much better price than doing each job separately.