Plumbing pipes are remarkably sturdy, but they’re not invincible. If you live in your home long enough, you will almost certainly have to replace one or more pipes at some point. If you know a bit about the issues that can affect pipe health, though, you can take certain steps to help prolong their lifespans. Let’s have a look at some common problems that, if left alone long enough, can lead to having to replace a home’s plumbing pipes.
Pipes installed throughout the first half of the 20th century were largely made of lead and iron. These were largely replaced by copper in homes constructed since the 1950’s, because iron rusts and lead is poisonous. Copper pipes are not immune to corrosion, though. They simply corrode differently. There are two kinds of corrosion that copper pipes are known to be vulnerable to: pitted and formicary. Both of these corrosion types open up leaks in the pipes, and are caused by the presence of chlorine or formaldehyde particles. Unfortunately, there is little to be done about this kind of corrosion except to monitor for it. Hopefully, leaks can be caught and patched early before they cause too much damage.
Lime scale is a type of mineral deposit caused by prolonged exposure to hard water. Hard water is just water with high levels of magnesium and calcium particles in it. As the water flows through the pipes, it deposits these particles on the walls. Lime scale is the result of these particles building up over time. Lime scale is not dangerous to your health, but it does restrict the flow of water through the pipes, reducing the plumbing system’s efficiency. The bigger problem is that lime scale hardens if it isn’t cleaned out quickly enough. Once the scale has hardened, it becomes nearly impossible to remove without damaging the pipe itself. Typically, pipes that have lime scale this advanced are replaced entirely.
This one is seasonal, but still very much something that you should be aware of. The reason frozen pipes rupture is because the water still left in the pipe expands when it freezes. This puts too much pressure on the pipe, which then cracks and starts to leak. The best way to deal with this is to make sure any non-essential pipes are drained of water before the weather gets too cold. If you have pipes in your home that are not insulated, but which are used during the winter, it’s a good idea to insulate them before the weather gets too cold.
Sometimes, it’s not a specific problem that destroys a plumbing pipe. Sometimes, it’s just old age. Plumbing pipes can last decades under the right circumstances, but that’s not something you can rely on. If you know that the pipes in your home have been around for quite a while, it’s a good idea to have a plumber examine them to make sure they’re still in good condition.