A house is like the human body. We have skin and bones; the walls, roof, and frame of our homes have similar functions. Our arteries are like the plumbing system of our house.
As we get old, our arteries also get old. They become stiff and may become clogged with cholesterol. The pipes that run through our house are the same.
You can expect corrosion, rust, and decay on your pipes as they age. And then you'll have to think about pipe replacement. This is a cause of anxiety for many homeowners because it's not only inconvenient, it can also be expensive.
But you don't perform bypass surgery willy-nilly, and you shouldn't replace your pipes either unless absolutely necessary. The first step is always an accurate diagnosis of the problem.
How can you tell if your pipes are old and in need of replacement? Continue reading this article for answers.
Pipe Pathology 101
Your pipes can last decades but as they say, nothing lasts forever. How pipes wear out is remarkably similar to how arteries become sclerotic.
Both systems work really hard to contain the force and pressure of the liquids passing through them. That force puts a lot of strain on their inner walls. Just like how hypertension can damage artery walls, water pressure can grind away at your pipes.
When the walls are injured, it's easier for deposits and other gunk to be caught on the damaged surface. Arteries become atherosclerotic due to plaque build-up, while pipes become corroded and clogged by mineral deposits.
Another reason why pipes wear out is the chemicals in the water. Sometimes the water is slightly acidic and this will gradually corrode your pipes. And if your water has a high salt content, the salt crystals will cause abrasions on the inner wall.
Diagnose the Problem Before Considering Pipe Replacement
Fortunately, there are ways to tell if you have old plumbing pipes that need replacement without consulting a professional. Here are some of the symptoms of compromised pipes.
When previously clear tap water becomes yellow or tea-coloured, it may be a sign that your pipes are corroded or rusted. This happens because flowing water strips some of the metal or rust off the corroded parts. You may also see flecks of metal floating in your water.
Sometimes, the evidence of corrosion is not visible. But you know that there's something wrong with the water because of its metallic taste or odour. This is also proof of rusting or corrosion in the plumbing.
A sink that doesn't drain can give you a headache. A toilet that has trouble keeping things down is a nightmare, more so if you have guests.
So you tried different ways of unclogging your sink or toilet. There's the old tried and tested plunger. You probably have also tried using boiling water, baking soda, and other home remedies.
You might have some success with these methods but the problem keeps coming back. You can keep plunging away but your efforts are futile if the clog is deep in a worn pipe. The gunk will continue to build up if you have corroded pipes.
High-pressure water constantly runs through your plumbing system. Any weaknesses in the pipe walls because of corrosion, rust, or damage can become a fracture where water will seep out of. As the water continues to leak out of the fracture, it will widen causing bigger leaks.
If you see wet spots on the floor or along the bottom of the walls, there's a good chance that you have a plumbing leak. Other signs are water accumulation under the sink or around your toilet. Leaks are one of the telling signs that you have a compromised plumbing system.
Low Water Pressure
This happens during the most inconvenient times. An example is when you're in the shower and soap gets in your eyes. Now you're begging the shower to produce more water while your eyes burn because of the soap.
Low water pressure is a direct consequence of the two problems previously mentioned: clogs and leaks. Water will have to work harder to squeeze through clogged pipes. The flow becomes sluggish as a result.
Holes and gaps in the pipes will weaken the strength of the flow. This is because some of the water pressure is lost through the leaks.
Sudden Increase in the Water Bill
If you're surprised by the sudden spike in your water bill, the reason could be worn-out pipes. You can wait one more month to see if it's just an aberration. But if the bill remains high, you should consider having your pipes looked at by a professional.
Corrosion in your plumbing system can contribute to the increased water bill due to two reasons. First, water pressure is wasted. Second, your dishwasher, washing machine, and other devices will use more water to do their jobs.
If you feel that there is no clear reason why your bill is increased for this month, chances are your pipes are the culprit.
Look at Exposed Pipes
If you're living in an old house, you might have exposed pipes in the basement or crawlspaces. If you suspect that you might have pipe troubles, you can inspect these exposed pipes.
Look for telltale signs of corrosion and damage. You might see some discoloration, flaking, stains, dimples, or pimples. These are all visual clues that point to busted plumbing.
Speaking of Old Houses...
If your house was built before the 1960s, you should investigate if lead materials were used in the construction of your water system. While lead pipes are very sturdy and can last for a hundred years, lead can leach into your drinking water. Lead is very dangerous to your health and your family members, especially children.
In this case, it is highly recommended that the lead pipes are removed immediately and replaced.
So You Have Old and Worn Pipes, What Now?
Don't panic and contact us right away. We'll tell you if you need an upgrade, total pipe replacement, or just timely maintenance. We also have 24/7 emergency services for those 3 am exploding pipe disasters.