Galvanized pipe was once considered a superior alternative to lead pipes, but over the years, plumbing experts have discovered that they can cause many problems for homeowners. Replacing galvanized plumbing systems has become one of the most common plumbing jobs when working on older homes. Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to avoid the most common plumbing issues associated with old galvanized pipes.
Corrosion and Rust
One of the most noticeable problems that you can experience is the deterioration of the zinc coating on the inside of the galvanized steel piping. This zinc coating is supposed to provide protection from rust and corrosion, but over time, it can actually worsen the problem by reacting with the minerals in water. This results in corrosive plaque forming in the pipes, which can ultimately result in loss of water pressure and pipe bursts.
Discolored Water and Leaks
If the interior of the galvanized pipes becomes corroded, it can give the water that comes out of faucets a dirty brown color and an unpleasant metallic taste. This is caused by the rust that flakes off of the inside of the galvanized pipe and falls into the water that flows through it.
Leaks can occur around threaded fittings and connections, which is a very common problem with galvanized pipes. The threaded fittings allow the pipe to expand and contract, which can eventually create a leak that can be difficult to pinpoint. Once the rusted connection is brittle enough to break, this type of leak will continue to develop and will affect your home’s fixtures and water quality.
Loss of Water Pressure
When the zinc coating on the galvanized steel piping wears down, the internal walls of the pipe begin to corrode and rust. This leads to the loss of water pressure and causes uneven distribution of water throughout the home. The corroded pipes can also cause leaks, so if you notice one or more of these symptoms, it may be time to consider repiping your home’s plumbing system.
Low Pressure and Leaks
If your home’s water supply pipes are galvanized, it is likely that they will need to be replaced. When replacing these pipes, the plumber will replace all the existing cold and hot water lines with new ones made from copper or PEX tubing.
Change in Water Temperature
If your galvanized pipes have been leaking for some time, you should change the temperature of the water in your home. This will help prevent the buildup of bacteria and contaminants that can be found in stale water.
The last thing you want is to drink water that contains a lot of bacteria, as this can be harmful for your health. It is important to get the water temperature in your home back to normal as soon as possible so that you can avoid illness and keep your family healthy.
Unclogging a Clogged Galvanized Pipe
If you have a clogged galvanized pipe, you can try using compressed air to force out the debris. This method won’t solve any rust that has formed at threaded fittings, so it is best to call a plumber to fix the issue and then repipe your home.
Frequently Asked Questions About Galvanized Pipes
Since they need to be replaced, you should not buy a house with galvanized pipes unless you have additional funds to replace the pipes. That being said, you can negotiate a lower home price with the seller if you plan to replace the pipes right away.
Yes, although it’s best to communicate this with prospective buyers before selling. While it’s not required to disclose, buyers may have a case against you if you knew that the galvanized pipes were already damaged or compromised.
Galvanized plumbing became popular in the late 1960’s, however this plumbing material was phased out by the 1980’s once the problems became more consistent in older homes.
Many older homes built in the mid to late 20th century are made with galvanized plumbing, but not all. Always check with a real estate agent or plumber when buying or selling a house that may have these pipes.
Depending on the size of your house, the cost to replace galvanized plumbing can range from $5,000 – $20,000.