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Most Common Old House Plumbing Issues


Old houses have their charm, but they actually can cause many problems. Besides the possibility of mold and mildew development, outdated materials used for building or termite infestation, older houses have some common problems when it comes to plumbing. These can cause many other troubles since a busted pipe can flood your home and cause mold and ruin walls and floors. That’s why it is good to know the most common plumbing issues so you would know what to pay attention to in your old house or in one that you plan on buying.

Materials prone to failure

There are two pipe materials that are no longer used because they are very likely to fail – polybutylene and galvanized steel. Before the 1980s polybutylene pipes were considered “the pipes of the future” and they cost very little while their installation was easy, compared to traditional copper piping. They were used in residential water supply but they soon started to cause troubles. Many houses reported major issues with such pipes, but the manufacturers never wanted to acknowledge that polybutylene pipes were defective. The exact cause of their failures were never actually pinpointed, but it is probable that the oxidants (such as chlorine) that are present in public water systems react with plastic and cause the pipe to flake and become fragile.

Galvanized pipes are most likely to be present in homes built before the 1960s. Galvanized steel was vastly used in residential homes, but today it’s no longer an option since it has corrosion problems; that is, the rust accumulates inside the pipe and can completely block the drains and cause a pipe to burst. Even though previous owners of such homes may have replaced some of the pipes, they probably only focused on ones that were clogged or already corroded. This means that some of them might have been left inside. In order to check if such pipes are present and causing trouble you should turn on hot water. If the water pressure appears to be low, you will have to check for galvanized pipes.

Defective repairs

Maybe a plumber or a previous owner didn’t do the job well which is causing a leak or a busted pipe today. If a non-professional tackled the problems in the past the traps might be installed backwards or doubled-up, pipes might be secured improperly, the drains might be unvented and unsafe water heaters can be a common issue. All these can cause many troubles, including blocked sink, corroded pipes and leaks. Another common mistake can be the use of wrong pipes for a certain system or they used wrong pieces to connect the pipes. The only way to discover defective repairs is by conducting a thorough home inspection. Experienced plumber from Sydney can prevent any major damage to the house and will make sure that your pipes are well taken care of.

End of a lifespan

Every house element has an average lifespan. Some last longer than others, but they are bound to stop functioning sooner or later. When it comes to water supply piping, copper has a lifespan of 60 to 80 years, galvanized steel from 40 to 50, as well as CPVC and PVC, while PEX has a lifespan of 40 years. Drain piping materials also include cast iron with a lifespan of 50 to 65 years, galvanized steel from 40 to 60, copper from 60 to 80 and PVC lasts from 50 to 70 years. Also, there are plumbing fixtures that might look gorgeous and antique but they cannot last forever. Water heaters last between 10 and 20 years, faucets from 15 to 25, while sinks, tubs and toilets can last from 40 to 80 years and shut-off valves have a lifespan of 20 years. The upcoming expiration date of each element is easy to spot since corrosion and leaks will occur at the end of the lifespan.

Watch out for the materials that were used, any outdated fixtures and faulty repairs and you will manage to renovate the house properly. Just conduct a thorough home inspection and you will avoid any future troubles.

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