Even the most well-built and durable pipes cannot last forever. Granted, cast-iron drainpipes could survive upward of a full century before aging out. Of course, the idea of lasting 100 years assumes that the homeowner took proper care of the plumbing system, and no other external factors contributed to excessive wear and tear.
Understanding the best way to take care of plumbing lines and pipes helps homeowners preserve their longevity. Yes, disasters can happen that undermine the ability to protect the pipes. Roots growing in the ground could tear sewer lines out. Homeowners have to keep an eye out for unexpected troubles.
That said, home maintenance stands as the homeowner’s responsibility. Specific factors might speed up the demise of pipes. Knowing about these factors could allow a homeowner to take preventive steps to slow down the process. And remember, homeowner’s insurance policies won’t likely pay for damage due to normal wear and tear or neglect.
Take care of the pipes, and you might avoid unnecessary plumbing bills. So, what are the common factors that might wreck pipes?
Age Takes Out the Pipes
Age will eventually catch up with even the best pipes. Certain metals or material last longer than others, but all pipes do meet their demise from age at some point. Even the previously mentioned cast iron drains will degrade.
When getting plumbing work done, ask the plumber to identify the type of pipe. Keep a log of the answer. There’s a significant difference between copper and PVC lifespans. PVC may last an impressive 40 years, but copper could remain strong for up to 75. Brass and galvanized steel could last 75 years, as well. Once again, the maximum life expectancy on these pipes usually involves proper care and a lack of harmful external factors.
Some materials wear down quickly even when you care for the pipes perfectly. Polybutylene pipes were popular in decades past. Plumbers don’t use these pipes anymore because they are not built to last. If these pipes are in a home, homeowners have to be ready to replace them.
If the plumber points out that the pipes are made of lead, replacement work should begin without delays. Older homes may still have lead pipes, and lead is no longer used because of the metal’s dangers. Lead may contaminate drinking water, which is why it is considered so dangerous.
Leaks and Moisture Cause Corrosion
Rusted pipes may become brittle and prone to leaking. Sometimes, a pipe may spring a leak because the metal breaks down from age. Regardless of the reason, any leaks get more and more sections of the pipe wet and lead to further corrosion. Moisture in the air might cause additional rusting, even in sections seeming far away from the original leaking point.
Homeowners might not fix a “small” leak because they may not see it as a significant problem. Of course, any leak of any size is serious. Besides wasting water, the leak will slowly cause damage and corrosion to the pipe system.
DIY leak fixes may prove woefully insufficient. Homeowners should call a plumber to perform a fix. Doing so could avoid replacing significant amounts of pipe later.
Looking Closely at the Fixtures
Fixtures may age and wear out sooner than the thick metal sections of pipe. Valves, in particular, may spring leaks after coming loose. Years of turning valves on and off might have an effect. Age also catches up with valves just as it does with many plumbing fixtures.
Leaks from above could cause problems for valves, too. Water that drips down on a valve could cause it to rust. The valve, itself, may then spring a leak. Turning the valve could lead it to break off, creating a pressurized leak. Hopefully, the problem isn’t with any of the water shut-off valves, as the flow of pressurized water requires cutting off.
Residents in San Antonio and the surrounding region can ask for help from Beyer Plumbing. We handle drain repair and replacement services along with other plumbing duties.
Winterize the Pipes
Homeowners do not want their pipes to freeze. If pipes freeze, they can burst. Once the pipes burst, expect a tremendous amount of water to flood into the home. Gallons upon gallons of water could pour out and will continue to pour until someone shuts off the main valve. What causes pipes to freeze? When the temperature inside a house drops below freezing, water not moving through the pipes can turn to ice. Ice expands, which can break the pipes open.
A properly operating furnace should keep the temperature in the home above freezing. However, if something goes wrong with the furnace, then the chance of the pipes bursting increases. Getting a routine annual inspection before winter arrives might not only help preserve the furnace but also the plumbing.
Plumbing supply stores may sell items capable of reducing the potential for pipes to freeze. Special insulation products may prove helpful.
When dealing with the second home or an extended vacation, draining the pipes would help address the problem. However, turning off the shutoff valve and emptying water via the faucets probably won’t be enough. Running pressurized air through the plumbing lines may be necessary. A plumber can handle the task and likely should.
Hard Water Problems Arise
Water lines may contain minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, and iron. These minerals aren’t likely to cause any problems to humans, but they can create problems for the pipes. Minerals may harden and stick to the pipes. The result is reduced water pressure because the inside of the pipe has less of a passageway.
Water softeners could work to keep the problem from becoming too severe. A plumbing company could assist with this solution. However, if the situation becomes too severe or the homeowner waits too long, a plumber might recommend removing some of the plumbing lines.
Fixing Troubles Sooner Rather Than Later
Homeowners must understand the basic tenet of home improvement. Smaller jobs, even important ones, may prove far less expensive than wide-scale ones. Removing a small amount of pipe won’t come with the same cost associated with removing four times as much piping.
Sometimes, homeowners may convince themselves that a problem isn’t as severe as it seems. Repair delays happen as a result. By the time it becomes obvious that repairs cannot wait any longer, the resultant extensive work brings with it greater costs.
So, move with urgency once a problem manifest.
Consider the Value of a Plumbing Inspection
A homeowner might not be able to evaluate the condition of aging pipes. The average person likely can’t pick up on signs of an impending plumbing problem, either. So, it may be helpful to request a plumbing inspection. Requesting a plumbing inspection every two years seems to be the recommended suggestion. Some may need the plumbing checked more frequently. If the plumbing never underwent an inspection, perhaps requesting one right away would be worthwhile.
Contact our team at Beyer Plumbing today. We’ll help with any plumbing repair or replacement request. Our company also specializes in tankless water heaters and water quality systems. We handle commercial clients, too.