An older home offers beauty and a sense of style that you can’t duplicate. Even though the aesthetics of the house are everything you’ve ever wanted, the old plumbing system leaves something to be desired. Years of wear and tear or decades of inadequate maintenance can lead to problems with your home’s plumbing fixtures and pipes.
Whether you’re ready to buy an older home or you just moved in, understanding some of the common plumbing problems you might face is absolutely essential. Even though you might not immediately see (or find) these issues, knowing what the potential problems are may make it easier to stop a leak, backup, or other issue before it ever starts.
If you have an old house, take a look at some of the top plumbing problems you might face.
Many older homes have galvanized pipes. This type of pipe is made from steel that is coated with zinc. First used as an alternative to potentially dangerous lead pipes, galvanized plumbing is typically seen in homes built prior to 1960.
Even though galvanized pipes are not the same as lead pipes, their coatings may contain small amounts of lead. Galvanized steel pipes that were attached to lead plumbing still contain some of the hazardous substance — especially if they’re corroded.
Corrosion occurs when the pipe surface is worn or eaten away. It can happen along the length of the pipe or at the joint area. Corroded areas of pipe can trap loose lead that flowed in years ago from service lines. Over time, the pipes can release the lead into your home’s water supply.
Along with unleashing lead, corroded pipes that need to be repaired can cause leaks, low water pressure, or discoloration. Keep in mind, galvanized steel pipes aren’t the only old plumbing parts that can corrode. When copper pipes corrode, they can cause blue stains in your sink, in your bathtub, or on other fixtures.
From the late 1970s through the mid-90s, many homes were built with polybutylene (PB) pipes. These plastic pipes were inexpensive and didn’t carry the lead risk of older metal pipes. They were also relatively easy to install and resisted freezing better than other types of pipes.
Some evidence suggests that heavy use of disinfectants reacts with the plastic and causes flaking. If the flaking persists, it can result in cracks, breaks, or ruptures in the plumbing system.
As time goes by, the home’s sewer lines, which are located under the house, can start to sag. When this happens, the sewer lines form a belly. This type of plumbing curve is more common in plastic (PVC) pipes but can happen in almost any type of material.
A pipe belly might not have any major consequences for the home or the homeowner. But in many cases, it does cause blockages. If toilet paper or other sewage gets stuck in the belly’s curve, it prevents water from passing by, causing a backup.
Chances are that you’ve heard about lead’s dangers. Homes that were built prior to 1986 may have lead pipes in them or may be connected to lead pipes. When completely intact, the pipes themselves won’t cause major problems. But any amount of corrosion allows the lead to flake off and freely flow into your water system.
Lead in drinking water can cause serious health effects, especially in young children. Infants and children can suffer from behavioral/learning problems, lower IQ, slow growth, or anemia after lead exposure. Lead is also dangerous for pregnant women and other adults. Ingesting the substance can result in premature birth or reduced fetal growth rate. Non-pregnant adults can also develop hypertension, kidney issues, or reproductive problems.
Do you have an old house that needs a plumbing upgrade? Give us a call today: (317) 423-7289