All of us have a basic understanding of plumbing and how to solve issues that arise from time to time. However, it's fairly common for older houses to have totally unique issues and it's important to be aware of these, as well. Yes, many old homes are incredibly beautiful, but some of the plumbings they can have can really spoil the party.
Here are some of the most common plumbing issues to look for in older houses:
1. Galvanized Piping
Galvanized piping is most commonly found in homes built before the 1960s. They are made of iron and covered with a layer of zinc--this can erode over time and cause issues if left unresolved. Besides the pipes being old and outdated, they are also prone to corrosion, which can impact your water pressure in a very negative manner. Furthermore, you may notice that your water has a strange color. This is due to iron being released through the pipes.
2. Polybutylene Piping
In the '70s and into the early '90s, it was very common for homes to have polybutylene piping. This was likely due to its low costs. Unfortunately, this is no longer up to code in the U.S.--mostly because it is prone to failure due to the way it reacts to oxidants found in water. These oxidants can weaken the pipe, which can lead to a system failure that is very dangerous to your property. The best recourse to take if you still have this type of system is to have it place as soon as possible.
3. Lead Service Lines
Another problem associated with galvanized piping in older homes is lead service lines. These connect the water from the main to your home. When there are replacements or repairs on these lines, there could be an increase of lead found in the water present in your home. It is important to know the type of piping present both outside and inside your home to prevent lead contamination. If it is identified as lead, it is advised that you install and use a filtration system.
4. Pipe Bellies
The earth below our houses does not sit still for long periods of time--especially here in California! There is constant movement and houses shift in response, which can affect the piping that lies underneath. The result is that pipes can move and shift downwards, resulting in what are called “bellies.” The bend in the pipes makes it difficult for water and other sediments to pass through the pipe, causing stoppages.
5. Sewer Lines
A house’s plumbing does not only include the confines of your home — it also extends down to the sewer line. Determining if your house is on a sewer line is the first step. If so, there are potential problems that one can face due to this. Roots from plants and trees can form around the pipes, and certain materials are at risk of being crushed. An older house is more likely to face issues with sewer lines due to the shifting of the ground, and tree roots are the main source of plugging when it comes to these lines. Gurgling sounds from your toilet and flowing drains can be the first sign that something isn’t right when it comes to your sewer lines.
6. Faulty Gas Lines
Perhaps the most overlooked problem has less to do with the plumbing and pipes involved with water in the house and more to do with the lines that supply gas to lights, water heaters, and stoves. A lot of older houses have gas lines installed, but most homeowners do not know whether they are turned on or not. The pipes can also be damaged from poor soil conditions or from shifts in the ground over time. Not knowing can cause severe problems, including the potential for leakage or even an explosion. It is of utmost importance for safety that these are tested and repaired if necessary.
Now that you're aware of the major plumbing risks in old homes, figuring out how to move forward with updating your home will be a lot simpler. We highly recommend you use skilled, experienced plumbers to update the system in your home. Give us a call if you would like help with this process.