Why you should replace your galvanized pipes for a safer home

Older houses built before the 1960s may have galvanized piping. If you live in the Kentucky or Clarksville TN area here are some at home inspections you can do to see if you have galvanized piping in your home.

What are galvanized pipes?

Galvanized piping was a common practice installed in homes built before 1960. They are essentially steel pipes that have been dipped in a protective zinc coating to prevent corrosion and rust. It was introduced as an alternative to lead piping for water supply lines. Since then we have learned that exposure to water over long periods of time will cause galvanized pipes to corrode and rust on the inside.


How do you tell if you have galvanized pipes?

As Galvanised pipes age the pipes can appear duller, lighter, or darker, depending on its environment. If you live in an older home where the water pipes have been painted over it will be difficult to tell. The best thing you can do is a quick test to tell if your pipes are galvanized. Grab a screwdriver or something that can scratch the outside of the pipe and a strong magnet. If you have galvanized pipes then the scrated area will have a silver/gray appearance in color and the magnet will stick to it. Other forms of piping such as copper and PVC will not show a silver/gray color and the magnet will not stick to it.


What problems associated with galvanized pipes?

  1.  Low Water Pressure
    If the line is clogged with rust and debris the line will be restricted with water flow. The corrosion build up in galvanized pipes can cause low water pressure in your home.
  2. Uneven Distribution of Water
    You may find that some taps in your home have low water pressure while others don’t. This could potentially be a symptom of galvanized pipes as the corrosion can build up unevenly.
  3.  Water Discoloration
    Because of the chemical makeup of the pipes, galvanized pipes can release iron and cause water discoloration. An indicator of this in your home would be a brown stain on a porcelain sink
  4. Leaks
    Because galvanized pipes rust over time, they will eventually become brittle and start to leak. Leaky pipes will cause more damage to your home and be far more expensive. Better to replace your pipes with a sturdier and healthier option for your home.


What should you replace your galvanized pipes with?

It’s best to check what local codes may call for specific materials in your area with a licensed plumber but first here are the two most popular options on the market.


    • Copper – Copper pipes are popular for both hot and cold water pipes because they are heat resistant, resist corrosion, and have natural anti-microbial properties. They are a more expensive option when compared to plastic pipes. Average cost-per-foot for copper piping is between $2.50 and $3.50 compared with PVC, which is around $.50 to $1.50. The labor hire for copper pipes is also more expensive. Copper has a lifespan of about 50 years before the walls start to thin and need replacing.
    • PVC piping (polyvinyl chloride) – PVC is a plastic piping that is commonly used for main supply lines, drainage pipes, pools, spas and irrigation piping. PVC comes in different thicknesses called schedules. The most common schedules are 40 and 80. Usually PVC is only used for cold water pipes since hot water can eventually break down the plastic material. But one of the greatest benefits about PVC is that it doesn’t rust or corrode over time. It’s inexpensive and easy to repair or replace when needed.

How much does it cost to replace galvanized pipes?

The cost of replacing your galvanized pipes will vary depending on the materials you choose to replace the pipes with and the labor hire you decide to employ for the job. The latest HomeGuide suggests that the cost of replacing galvanized pipes can range from $2,000 to $15,000 depending on materials.

If you would like to schedule an inspection for your home with our professional and friendly team of plumbers call us on 270-350-7272 or email info@liberty-inspections.com

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