You’ve finally found the perfect house for your family — it’s full of character, with a great yard and big trees, in a lovely established neighbourhood. But what happens if the home inspection reveals outdated pipes? This is a stressful situation for any potential home buyer. It’s important to be informed about the plumbing issues you’re facing and to understand your options.
The first thing you need to know is exactly what kind of pipes you’re dealing with. Some are a bigger problem than others. There are two types of pipes commonly found in older homes that should be replaced immediately. It will be a big expense, but it’s essential to take care of these before you move in.
Lead pipes carry the biggest risk because they can contaminate your drinking water. This poses serious health risks, especially for children. Polybutylene pipes, or Poly B, are made from plastic that is easily damaged over time. This results in brittle pipes that will leak or rupture, potentially causing extensive water damage.
Other types of pipes found in older homes don’t necessarily need your attention right away. Galvanized pipes will be at the end of their lifespan, which means they likely have significant corrosion taking place inside. You’ll need to start making plans to replace them to avoid issues like leaks, and decreased water pressure and flow. Brass and copper pipes can last from 80 to 100 years if they’re well maintained. But they should be checked periodically for leaks and damage to make sure small problems don’t become big ones.
Another problem area to watch out for in older houses is the water. Some of these issues may seem minor, but they can be red flags for more serious underlying problems.
Low water pressure or poor drainage? This can be caused by things like leaks, sediment buildup, corrosion, or buckled pipes (pipe bellies).
Discoloured water coming out of the taps? In older homes, this is frequently due to corroding pipes releasing rust and sediment into the water.
Strange smelling or tasting water? This can be another sign that the pipes in your house have started to rust or corrode.
What’s the Solution?
The good news is that some plumbing problems in older homes are easier to fix than you may think. For example, it may be possible to start by replacing only the exposed pipes in your house. It’s still a large job, but you don’t have to take the extra step of opening up walls and floors.
If you were already planning to do some demolition, however, that can work to your advantage. A kitchen or bathroom renovation is the perfect opportunity to inspect and replace aging pipes. For inside-the-wall pipe replacement, your plumber may be able to save costs by using a newer product called cross-linked polyethylene tubing (PEX). PEX is a flexible plastic hose that can be snaked into walls, eliminating the need for demolition.
Even if the only solution is to completely replace the pipes, this doesn’t have to mean giving up the house of your dreams. Finding out the house needs major plumbing work can be an opportunity to negotiate a lower price. And by updating the plumbing in an older house, you’re increasing its market value for the future.
Facing plumbing issues in an older home can seem daunting, but experienced professionals like the ones at Mr. Rooter are ready to help. They can diagnose and inspect your problems and offer top-notch repair services so that you can focus on making your new house feel like home.