Owning an older home can have its perks such as a lower purchase price than that of a brand new home. However, it does have higher maintenance costs. Plumbing is just one of those areas to factor in with time. Have you ever noticed the same three problems in plumbing failures in older homes? Those problems tend to be one of these three: defective repairs made by the owner or a handyman, plumbing material and piping is at their functional life span, or old pipe material that has been proven faulty and no longer in use.
Trying to fix a plumbing job yourself or hiring a handyman can cost you money and more problems in the long run. An incorrect plumbing job performed by someone without a professional plumbing license can be disastrous for your home. The reason is because the homeowner or the handyman may not have the appropriate training to deal with plumbing blockages and other plumbing specific issues that arise that may lead to other damages to flooring, drains, and appliances. It may be better to save the extra money it would have cost the homeowner and hire a licensed plumber to fix a plumbing problem to avoid time, stress, and money wasted in the long run.
All plumbing material and piping come with a shelf life. This shelf life is the times to which you are able utilize the plumbing components without problems of leaking, malfunctioning, or non-functioning. Factors that may affect the life span of these plumbing components like a faucet is the quality of material, installation, or environment conditions. For example, the water supply piping comes in copper, galvanized steel, and plastic (two types of plastic water-supply pipes, CPVC and PEX). The copper water supply piping will give you longevity of 60 to 80 years. Galvanized steel and plastic water supply piping will both supply 40 to 50 years if installed by a licensed professional plumber. It is important to note that even plumbing fixtures have life spans as well. Water heaters will last 10 to 20 years. Faucets last 15-25 years. Sinks, tubs, and toilets will last 40 to 80 years. However, the toilets non-porcelain parts (lever, flapper, and valve) will need to be replaced every few years. That being said, the homeowner may need maintenance or need to replace plumbing components sooner or perhaps the shelf life may last twice as long.
It is important to be aware of what type of piping you have. Old pipe material that has been proven faulty and no longer in use is the last problem causing plumbing issues. If your house was built between 1970 and 1990’s, it may have been built with polybutylene piping, an inexpensive and easy to install pipe. The problem with polybutylene piping was that standard water treatment chemicals like chlorine caused it to become brittle, crack, and break. In addition, the degradation of the pipe affected the water quality. Polybutylene pipe is inappropriate in plumbing systems and must always be replaced. Another type of pipe material that is no longer installed for water supply piping is galvanized steel though still used for repairs in existing systems. It was installed in 1960s but due to corrosion rusting from the inside out carries less than a 25-year life span. This type of pipe material restricts or completely blocks the flow of water and causes the pipe to spring leaks. The internal corrosion also affects water quality with lead and other metals leach in the water. Steel piping, older cast iron drain and waste piping, and older copper piping are other types of pipe that may corrode and should be replaced before a problem starts.