Galvanized Pipes – Do They All Need to Be Replaced?

A common concern that causes owners of older homes to call for a plumber is when problems originate with their galvanized water pipes.

Galvanized pipes may require replacement by a plumbing service, depending on their age and the degree of degradation they are experiencing.

Although not all galvanized pipes must be immediately replaced, plumbing contractors are best able to advise whether to repair or replace the pipes.

Determining the best course of action will depend on multiple factors.

What Is The Plumbing Problem in Older Homes?

Galvanized steel water pipes are commonly found in older homes that were built in from the early 1900s through the 1980s.

Produced by galvanizing regular steel with a zinc coating to make them last longer, these pipes replaced the lead pipes of the day once the hazards of lead plumbing became known.

Though galvanization makes the steel more durable by protecting it from corrosion due to constant contact with water, plumbers have also learned over the decades that galvanization will wear off after some time and once it does, those pipes are susceptible to corrosion like any other metal might be.

Plumbing services find that older homes initially equipped with galvanized water pipes can eventually begin experiencing a number of problems that require an intervention of some kind.

What Common Problems Are Seen With Older Galvanized Steel Pipes?

There are three common issues that plumbing contractors frequently see in older homes with galvanized water pipes:

  • Discolored Water - Rusty or discolored water coming through the water lines is one sign of old galvanized pipes that are deteriorating. This is due to the rust and scale that builds up on the inside of old pipes after the galvanization has worn off.
  • Low Water Pressure - Plumbers commonly find that rust and scale buildup inside corroding galvanized pipes can cause low water pressure due to restricted water flow or partial blockages.
  • Leaky Pipes - Older, deteriorating galvanized pipes are a common source of water leaks in older homes.

Plumbing services also note that while galvanized pipes have been in use since the early 1900s, those installed starting in the 1970s are even more susceptible to the above problems.

As the quality of steel that was used for water pipes was reduced in the 70s, homes built then are just as likely to be experiencing the same plumbing problems as those built in prior decades.

How Do Plumbers Resolve Issues With Galvanized Water Pipes?

Although replacing deteriorating galvanized water pipes with PEX or copper pipe by plumbing contractors is the ideal solution in homes with them, it is not required right away in all cases.

If some cases it might be possible to replace sections that have deteriorated rather than replace the entire line, noting that repairing old galvanized pipe is not recommended nor does it address code requirements.

More commonly in instances where the pipes are leaking, replacement with new and more durable PEX or copper pipe water lines is recommended by plumbing services.

Contact An Experienced Plumbing Contractor

Galvanized pipes were commonly used for plumbing in homes starting in the early 1900s and remained in use through the 1980s.

Plumbers encounter many problems, including leaks, discolored water due to rust, and water pressure issues due to scale buildup once the galvanization has worn off.

Homeowners encountering plumbing issues that are possibly tied to their galvanized water lines should consult with an experienced plumbing contractor to diagnose the problem in order to determine a good and economical solution based on the condition of the pipes.

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