We know what you’re thinking: Replacing your home’s pipes sounds like a major undertaking. It’s true, updating the plumbing is a big project, but when the time comes, it’s worth it for the peace of mind and long-term cost savings on repairs. How do you know when it’s time to update your home’s piping or if you simply need plumbing repairs? Our plumbers at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing® of Greater Minneapolis have put together some signs that it’s time for replacement to help you prepare.
Age and Material of Current Pipes
Nothing lasts forever, including your home’s pipes. However, some piping material lasts longer than others. If you know when your home’s pipes were installed and what material they are, you can estimate approximately when you’ll need to update them—though, regardless of the material, the better maintained they are, the longer they’ll last.
Based on its material, expect the average lifespan of a pipe to be:
- Brass: 45-70 years
- Cast iron: 75-100 years
- Copper: 50-70 years
- Galvanized steel: 35-50 years
- Lead: 80-100 years
- PVC: 80-100+ years
Despite their long lifespan, lead pipes should be monitored very closely and replaced immediately if lead levels in the water exceed the federally suggested maximum. Lead is highly toxic to humans—even potentially fatal. While the installation of lead pipes was banned in 1986, older homes may still have them.
PVC piping is a relatively newer material. In fact, the industry isn’t even sure how long it lasts, because it just hasn’t been around long enough to get a clear picture. We do know it lasts a very long time but can be damaged or weakened by prolonged sun exposure, caustic chemicals, and freezing. Since frozen pipes are not entirely uncommon here in Minnesota, keep a close eye on PVC pipes.
Cracks and Leaks
Perhaps the most obvious sign you need to update your home’s piping involves cracks and leaks. Leaks don’t always mean the pipe is cracked; sometimes leaks come from loose joints or connectors. And cracks in a pipe don’t always mean you have to replace your home’s plumbing system; often, the crack can be repaired. However, when the crack or leak is due to age or condition of the pipes, or the problem is widespread or persistent, it may be more cost-effective in the long run to update your home’s pipes sooner rather than later.
Corrosion and Discolored Water
Do your home’s pipes frequently clog or drain slowly? It’s possible the pipes are corroding from the inside out, especially if you also notice rusty brown or yellow water. This is particularly common in galvanized steel pipes. While clogs or discolored water, individually, may be caused by other issues, together they signal cause for a professional plumber to come have a look.
Decreased Water Pressure
Many homes experience weak water pressure from time to time. This can happen when the city is working on a water main in your neighborhood or when there’s buildup in your home’s pipes that needs to be cleared out. However, if your home’s water pressure is persistently lower than it should be, it may be time to update the pipes.
Our plumbers at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing® of Greater Minneapolis can help you determine if your home’s plumbing issues can be repaired or if it’s time to update or replace the pipes. Call (612) 430-6547 to schedule a plumbing inspection today!