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What are the most common plumbing problems with older houses?

September 22, 2017




While the exact cause is uncertain, it is believed that the oxidants (such as chlorine) in public water systems react with the plastic, causing it to flake and become brittle. As the integrity of the piping deteriorates, tiny fractures develop, which can expand over time and cause a sudden failure of the pipe and resulting water damage. Galvanized steel is another type of pipe material that is no longer installed for water supply piping, although still available and used for repairs of existing systems. It was often used for water supply piping in homes until the early 1970s, but not used today because corrosion problems limit it’s useful lifespan to between 40 and, at best, 50 years. Rust-corrosion accumulates inside the pipe and causes a plumbing version of arteriosclerosis, with the gradual hardening-of-the-arteries narrowing the diameter of the pipe in horizontal runs to the size of a soda-straw in places. Essentially, it rusts from the inside out. This restricts the flow of water to faucets and showers and, eventually, the corrosion causes the pipe to spring leaks--usually the first place being in the ground under the home’s concrete floor slab, or near the water heater due to an electrolytic reaction to copper fittings speeding up the corrosion. The photo below shows the end of an abandoned section of galvanized pipe in a laundry room wall, where it was cut-off at the juncture with a washing machine faucet. As you can see, the water flow was severely reduced from the buildup of rusty crud in the pipe. Surrounding it is the cream-color plastic pipe that replaced it, called CPVC. Both PB and galvanized pipe may be problematic when you apply for homeowner’s insurance for an older home. Some companies will not write a policy for homes with PB or galvanized, and others require a licensed plumber to certify that the pipe system is in satisfactory condition.2) Pipe material and fixtures that are at the end of their serviceable lifespan - Every component of a home has an average lifespan. Sometimes it will last longer than the average and, then again, occasionally it fails sooner. Here’s some plumbing life expectancies: WATER SUPPLY PIPING Copper - 60 t