When Should I Replace My Old Plumbing?

Plumbing, like anything else in your home, has a shelf life. Pipes are made to last a long time, but not forever. The more use your pipes get, the more wear and tear they undergo.

Everything you do that involves plumbing impacts the lifespan of your pipes, including:

  • Laundry
  • Dishes
  • Showering
  • Bathing
  • Flushing the toilet
  • Washing your hands
  • Brushing your teeth
  • Watering the lawn
  • Cleaning your home

Regular maintenance helps extend the expiration date of your plumbing system. Your plumbing should be inspected once a year. Along with maintenance, the age and use of your plumbing play a role in longevity.

Here, we’ll talk a bit more about the shelf life of plumbing, how to know it’s on the way out, and when to replace it.

Risks of Not Replacing Plumbing

Some homeowners choose to ignore the signs and symptoms of plumbing in need of repair. Instead, they carry on using their home the way they always do without fear of repercussion. Unfortunately, the internal plumbing of a house can be quite delicate in some areas.

Some of the risks that come with not receiving proper plumbing maintenance include:

  • Burst pipes
  • Pipe corrosion
  • Leaks
  • Flooding
  • Water damage
  • Blockages

When left to their own devices, these problems can escalate. A blocked pipe, for example, could force the blockage further and further down the pipe until it hits a cross pipe. You might wind up with sewage flowing back up into your home or sending a blockage so far out that professionals need to come in and tear up your yard to replace the pipe.

The Age of Plumbing Based on the Material

The life of your plumbing system relies on a variety of factors, one being age. The amount of time your plumbing lasts could come down to the material. Different materials used in piping extend or reduce the lifespan of your plumbing system. For example:

  • Polyvinyl chloride pipes: The newest type of pipes can last nearly forever. They’re highly durable and protect against the rust and corrosion of metal pipes.
  • Cast iron: Cast iron pipes are rare but could last up to 100 years if cared for properly.
  • Brass: Brass pipes have a maximum lifespan of 70 years.
  • Copper: Copper pipes are quite common in older homes and last about 50 years. They can last longer if well maintained.
  • Steel: Galvanized steel pipes aren’t ideal. They may only last 20 years. Although sometimes they last up to 50 years if well taken care of.

If you’ve moved into an older home, it’s worthwhile to find out what the plumbing is made of and how old it is now. This is something that should come out during the home inspection. Be sure to inquire because you could wind up footing the bill for a new plumbing system soon after moving in.

Signs It’s Time to Replace Old Plumbing

If you don’t have your home regularly inspected, it will tell you when it’s time to replace plumbing through symptoms of deterioration. It’s best not to let your plumbing get to this point, but if it has, be sure to call a professional as soon as possible.

Signs your plumbing needs replacing include:

  • Weird-smelling or tasting water: Your water tells you a lot about your plumbing and pipes. If water starts giving off a strange odor or taste, something isn’t right. It could mean there’s a leak somewhere, letting bacteria and sediment into your pipes. It could mean the pipes are breaking down, and rust and residue are seeping into your water supply.
  • Brown water: If you notice a brown hue to your water or brown marks on the tub when the water drains, it’s time to replace the pipes. This is a sign that rust deposits are flowing through your water. Again, this means there is pipe corrosion.
  • Low water pressure: If your water pressure suddenly and unexplained changes, it could mean a leak. When a pipe leaks, it’s no longer pressurized. This impedes water flow, making it harder to shower, wash your car, and do other tasks that require solid pressure.
  • Leaks: This is an obvious one, but still worth mentioning. If you notice a leak anywhere in your home, call an expert. It could mean a pipe has burst and needs to be replaced.

Any of these symptoms could lead to more serious problems with your plumbing. Early detection and correction are the best way to keep your plumbing working properly.

Contact MasterTech Plumbing, Heating and Cooling to Learn More


If you live in Columbia and are concerned your older plumbing needs to be replaced, call MasterTech Plumbing, Heating and Cooling today. We serve families across town and can help you diagnose and replace any pipes in your home.

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