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Do you live in a house that was built during or before the 1960s? Then your home will likely have galvanised pipes unless you replaced them during the last 50 years. It's essential to know the types of pipes you have, and in addition, you need to know when these pipes need to be replaced especially galvanised pipes.
Galvanised pipes are steel pipes with a zinc coating which is used to protect the pipes from corrosion. These types of pipes are used primarily for plumbing and were designed to replace lead pipes. Galvanised pipes are magnetic and are predominantly found in houses that were built before 1960. Even though they were created to replace lead pipes, they are widely associated with different plumbing issues.
If your home has galvanised plumbing pipes, you might be wondering when the right time is to replace these pipes before they affect your water heater or drinking water. The first thing to look at is the life expectancy of the pipes to determine whether the pipes need to be replaced.
Why Are Galvanised Pipes Important?
One of the main reasons galvanised pipes are used a lot is their durability. Since the pipes are dipped in a zinc coat, they don't corrode easily. When steel is continuously exposed to the atmosphere, it will only be a matter of time before it rusts, and you may not be able to shield them forever.
Galvanising the steel increases its ability to resist corrosion, irrespective of the environment you place it in. This will eventually increase the life expectancy of steel, making it last longer in a harsh environment. Galvanisation keeps the steel intact, even in continuous exposure to different conditions, including humidity.
As stated earlier, galvanised pipes are widely used because of their durability. These pipes can last for up to 80 years in many cases. However, it's important to note that their life expectancy entirely depends on the quality of the materials they are made of.
If the pipe is made from low-quality materials, it will only last for 40 years or even less. When you start experiencing problems with your galvanised pipes, the best thing to do is replace them.
Signs Your Galvanised Pipes Will Fail
There are several likely signs to look out for to determine whether your galvanised steel pipes are going bad or failing. Knowing how to identify these signs and the necessary actions to take is essential, even if it means replacing the pipes completely is essential.
One sign that your galvanised pipes have exceeded their life expectancy is when you start to notice lead content coming out of the faucets. In this case, you'll need to get a replacement. You might think this is not an issue that requires urgent attention, mainly because you are not directly exposed to lead.
However, you should remember that it's a silent killer and one you should respond to quickly. The source of the low-level lead contaminants could be your galvanised steel pipes, which can threaten your health and that of your family. Another thing to note is that older galvanised pipes were dipped in zinc, which is also a threat because it is a potential source of dissolved lead in water.
When these items were first designed, they didn't cause any concern. However, as time passes, the lead particles continuously fall into the water when they become dissolved. Lead poisoning can cause pain, muscle weakening, headaches, and even high blood pressure. Inspecting the water from your faucets, especially those in your kitchen, is advisable. Don't hesitate to replace galvanised pipes with high lead content.
Low water pressure
The water pressure is another sign to look out for. If the water pressure from the faucets is low, it may signify rustiness or leakage in the water pipes. It could also indicate that you need to replace your galvanised pipes. You should note that the build up of debris, dirt, and mineral deposits in your pipe can be expensive to resolve, which is why you should replace them quickly.
The water flowing from your faucets is a vital aspect to check. Any discolouration in the water means you should consider replacing galvanised steel pipes.
The quality of water from the faucet in your sink or kitchen could be affected by galvanised pipes. You might have previously noticed an unpleasant odour or discoloured water from your sink. These are signs to let you know that the steel pipes have served for a long time and will need to be replaced.
Galvanised steel pipes release iron, which can get mixed with water, changing its colour and giving it an unpleasant smell. Also, the water containing iron can cause damage to other fixtures within your piping system. You don't have to wait until the issue gets worse before you act.
This is another sign that your galvanised pipes will fail soon, and it's best to get a replacement as quickly as possible. Galvanised pipes usually look like nickel when they are first installed. However, with time, corrosion starts to affect the water supply lines, thereby forming a crust around them.
Rust pipes usually have dark greyish or dull light tones, which can affect the pipe's life expectancy. It can also cause leaks in the pipes and affect the proper functioning of your water heater.
You might be wondering how you can examine whether you have rusty pipes or not. The first thing you'll want to do is to get a screwdriver to scratch the exterior parts of the pipe. It might get dull in colour and show other signs of rusting. Another thing you can consider trying is to find rusty growths around the joints. If you identify these growths, then you know it's time to get a replacement for the pipes.
Do Your Galvanised Pipes Need Replacement?
With everything above, you might want to think it's a common thing for galvanised pipes to develop problems. However, it's imperative to note that these problems could also result from the natural ageing process. As your pipe ages, its quality decreases, which could be why it's developing problems.
It's essential to pay attention to your galvanised pipes and get a replacement when they start to give problems. This will help you avoid severe issues associated with galvanised pipes. If you identify any of the problems mentioned above, you might begin to wonder what you can do. The first thing is to properly inspect the situation to identify the cause and determine the exact point that needs replacement.
When To Replace Galvanised Steel Pipes
It's normal for your galvanised steel pipes to develop issues after a while but replacing them when these issues arise is worth it. If you happen to notice any of the above problems, you should replace the pipes immediately.
Benefits of replacing galvanised steel pipes
Getting a replacement for your galvanised steel pipes is like installing a completely new plumbing system. After replacing the pipes, you'll start to experience what it feels like to have a new plumbing system in your home.
Another benefit of replacing your pipes is that it will help increase your plumbing system's life expectancy. It's worth noting that stainless steel, brass, and PVC pipes generally last longer than galvanised steel pipes. When you install these options in your home, you won't need to worry about your plumbing system until after a very long time.
Drawbacks of replacing galvanised steel pipes
Replacing all the galvanised steel pipes in your home might take a while before you complete the process. Also, the professionals handling the project might need to break into the walls and floors of your home to access these pipes. In addition, you may not be able to access some parts of your home during the replacement process.
Alternatives To Galvanised Pipes
If you've decided to replace your galvanised pipes, you might wonder what alternatives you have. There are different options that you might want to consider. The first one is copper, and it's worth noting that copper pipes are long-lasting, strong, and safe alternatives to use.
However, they have a few disadvantages. This option's main disadvantage is that it is generally more expensive to purchase and install. Another option you might want to consider is installing PEX pipes, which are cheaper and easier to install. You won't need to cut through your home's walls before installing them.
They offer a unique level of flexibility, and you can easily make an opening in your wall to allow you to snake the pipes through. There are many other options in the market that you might want to consider, and it ultimately depends on your preference.
Emergency Plumbing Solutions
Some homeowners choose to reline rather than replace their galvanised pipes. This is primarily to help save cost because it's generally more affordable, and you won't need to get new pipes. You might also want to consider this option if you want to get the job done quickly or if the plumbing issue is only in one part of your home. In such a situation, pipe relining is a good option.
However, it's worth noting that relining galvanised steel pipes also has its drawbacks. The initial thing to note is that this may not do much for you. In some cases, the previous pipes may be in such a critical condition that relining won't effectively restore them. In such a situation, getting a replacement is much better than relining the pipes. You can consult with a professional plumber for further advice on which option is ideal for your home.