You’ve been living in your home for quite a few years now, and you’ve noticed that some things haven’t been running as smoothly as they used to. Are you always having small plumbing emergencies? You’ve kept up with maintenance, but you may be wondering when is it time to replace plumbing?
Do drains seem to run slower and slower and your tap delivering increasingly rust-colored water? How long do sewer pipes last, anyway? If you have an older home, you may be worried about lead pipes or contaminants in your drinking water.
Signs Your Plumbing is Failing
There are a few reliable signs to look for that will tell you when it’s time to replace your plumbing. In fact, if your home is more than 50 years old, it’s a good idea to do a regular annual inspection to look for any weak spots in your plumbing pipes.
Some obvious signs of possible failure are:
Corroded or rusted pipes. This is common with galvanized steel drainpipes, which are common in older homes.
Poor water pressure: Low water pressure can indicate a buildup of residue or rust obstructing the water supply lines. It can also indicate a hidden break in the line, which needs to be replaced immediately.
Leaks: Look for leaks from cracks or rusted areas of your pipes. Note that a leak at a connection usually doesn’t indicate a need to replace plumbing pipes and can often be repaired.
Mold and mildew near plumbing lines often indicates that there is a loss of integrity in the pipes. Condensation due to temperature differences in the lines and the ambient air can cause moisture. However, mold growth often indicates more than sweating pipes.
Discolored water frequently means that rust and contaminants within the water supply lines are finding their way into your drinking water.
When You Must Replace Plumbing
For the most part, old, rusty parts can be nursed along and replaced in sections. For example, with rusty water, sometimes a hydro-jetting can remove the debris until the pipes can be replaced.
However, in some cases, you’ll need to replace plumbing pipes because its dangerous to keep them in service any longer.
Lead pipes must be replaced immediately upon identification. This metal can leech into your drinking water and this has serious health implications. It is particularly dangerous for infants, children, and pregnant women. High lead levels can cause brain and kidney damage.
Polybutylene pipes were used in homes built between 1970 and 1990. This material has proven itself to be inadequate, and pipes of this material break frequently. They’re no longer on the market, but since pipe breakage causes a great deal of property damage, it’s a good idea to replace them as soon as you can.
What is the Expected Lifespan of Plumbing?
The lifespan you can expect from your home’s plumbing will depend largely on the materials used. Different materials have been used for both water supply and drainpipes over the years, and some have proven to be more durable than others.
Steel, copper, cast iron, and brass are more traditional and also more long-lasting. However, they can also be the most expensive. As well as costing more, they can also be more labor intensive to install.
Many home builders have switched to modern plastic piping, like PVC, to keep costs low. Plastics are usually cheaper, lighter, and easier to install. However, they’re normally not as durable.
When is it time to replace plumbing pipes
Depending on type of plumbing pipes you have, you can expect them to have the following useful lifespans:
Water supply pipes:
Galvanized steel pipes: 80-100 years
Brass supply pipes: 80-100 years
Copper pipes: 70-80 years
CPVC supply: 50-75 years
PEX supply: 25-40 years
Drain and waste pipes:
Cast iron: 80-100 years
Clay or Concrete: 80-100 years
ABS Plastic: 50-80 years
PVC: 25-40 years
When is it time to replace plumbing fixtures?
Plumbing fixtures may be acrylic, porcelain, or even resin. You can expect your plumbing fixtures to remain in service for many years depending on how they were manufactured.
Faucets: 15-20 years
Toilets: 20-50 years
Ceramic: 50+ years
Porcelain: 50+ years
Granite composite: 40-50 years
Stainless Steel: 15-30 years
Resin: 10-40 years
Tempered glass: 10-30 years
Shower pan liner
Tank water heater: 12+
Tankless water heater: 20+