In the 1950s, ductile iron pipe was introduced as an upgrade to cast iron. It has higher strength and similar corrosion resistance, making it an attractive material for water and wastewater uses. As with cast iron, many types of coatings were also developed to prevent corrosion inside the line. Between the 1930s and the 1980s, most contractors and plumbers built homes out of galvanized steel tubing.
Later, professionals discovered that galvanized steel rusted and corroded relatively easily, leading to blockages and releasing lead into the water, causing discoloration and potential disease. Older homes usually have at least a few galvanized steel pipes, as replacing an entire piping system is expensive. Let's explore the plumbing system of an old house. Clay pipes, cast iron and galvanized steel were the most commonly used materials in the past century or so, but have since been replaced by modern PVC plastics.
Millions of homes still have the old systems, however, and one day they will need to be replaced due to failure. If you live in a house built before 1980, chances are good that you have at least one of these types of materials. Even if the attractive details of older homes may appeal to you, old plumbing can be especially problematic. The pipes inside homes can be as old as the structure itself and can cause many problems and unforeseen costs. Corrosion and general wear and tear can result in restricted water flow, broken knobs, and leaks that make using water around the house an inconvenience at best, and at worst, a costly disaster.
Nobody wants to return from vacation to find that a rusty water line valve under the sink ultimately failed, causing hundreds or thousands of dollars in water damage. When doing repairs, plumbers often chose to leave a short horizontal line of cast iron from the toilet to the lower cast iron sink. It's not a question of “if” the house has had plumbing repairs, but rather “who” did them. While older homes have some kind of charm that new structures seem to lack, they also come with a number of plumbing problems. The most efficient way to avoid any catastrophic plumbing problems is to understand the status of your home's plumbing situation.
If you notice small pieces of PVC pipe scattered here and there in the plumbing waste system, it's a sign that homeowners have had problems in the past but didn't want to replace everything. It would be wise for potential homeowners to consider some specific plumbing features that are quite common in homes more than a few decades old. If the home has been renovated in recent years, it is likely that some or all of these pipes have been replaced, but it is always recommended that the pipes in the house be inspected by a professional plumber. Many older homes have faucets, fixtures, and supply line connections nearing end of life. The most efficient way to avoid any catastrophic plumbing problems is to understand the status of your home's plumbing situation before buying an older home. It is important to pay special attention to the types of plumbing system materials you have.
Jersey Plumbing can help you with those plumbing choices so you can truly have the oldest home of your dreams.