Old Drainpipes in Your Home

How Old are the Drainpipes in Your Home?

The drainage pipes in your home are not something many of us ever give much thought to. For the most part they do their job every day, year after year.  But like any product, drainage pipes do have a lifespan.  Depending on the type of material they are made of these pipes can last from 25 to almost 100 years.

corroded drain pipes

Once pipes begin to corrode, it’s only a matter of time before problems develop.

When to Take a Look

When remodeling an older home knowing the age of the structure can be helpful. This might give you an indication of what you’ll find behind the walls when you redo a bathroom or kitchen.

What you want to avoid is updating a room with new fixtures, tile flooring and walls, shower heads, and toilets, and neglecting to determine the condition of your drainpipes.

This is a little like “putting lipstick on a pig”. The outward appearance might be better, but the overall benefits are not realized because what’s going on behind the walls needs to be addressed.

What Condition are Your Pipes In?

Over time, pipes suffer from the elements, resulting in corrosion, rust, and eventual disrepair.

Galvanized steel pipes, in particular, are known to corrode. Once corrosion sets in, it’s only a matter of time before you’re going to need to replace your plumbing pipes to allow water to flow through them freely again.

leaking cast iron pipe

Older pipes lose their ability to seal correctly and will eventually spring a leak.

Look for These Indicators of Aging Pipe

To get a feel on the condition of your home’s drain pipes, look for these telltale signs that it is time to upgrade the plumbing in your home.

Water Discoloration
Unless you’re under a boil order, have well water, or live in a rural area, discolored water is usually a cause for concern. This brown or dark water is the result of corrosion in your pipes, leaving rust as the water runs through them. If left untreated, mineral deposits can clog pipes, which builds pressure, that can create leaks.

Pipe Materials
Depending on what year your home was built; different materials were probably used for the plumbing system. Most modern systems use brass, copper, or PVC pipes. However, older buildings used cast iron, lead, and galvanized steel. Regardless of the material, each of these plumbing products has a life span and will need to be replaced at some point.

  • Galvanized steel: 20 to 50 years
  • Brass: 40 to 45 years
  • Copper: 50-plus years
  • Cast iron: 75 to 100 years
corroded copper pipes

Look for the type and condition of the drainpipes throughout your home.

Low Water Pressure
When you experience low water pressure during a shower or when using the sink, it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact problem. You could simply have a clog in your plumbing, or your pipes could have leaks or pinholes that are reducing the water pressure.

Use Exposed Pipes as a Guideline
Look for exposed pipes somewhere in your home. Check all pipes for discoloration, flaking, dimpling, bumps, and anything else that looks out of the ordinary. Also look for pools of water or pipes that show signs of moisture accumulation.  This alerts you of corrosion or pipes that aren’t sealing correctly.

Suspect That You May Have Issues

If you believe that your pipes are approaching the end of their useful life span, please give Brenneco Plumbing a call at 765-448-6190.  We’ll be happy to do an assessment of the type of pipe you are using and provide recommendations on what steps you should take next.