When buying a house, the older ones are the most affordable on the market and a good option if you have the funds to start making repairs. The issue of these vintage houses (by use or cost) means remodeling and permanent changes. One of the main is old house plumbing.

Plumbing problems in old homes

No matter how nice and warm the house is, it has an old structure, which implies that the inside of the walls must be, in some way, worn out. Start by checking masonry, electrical connections, lights, floors, and plumbing. This will give you a general idea of the condition of the house.

Once the initial inspection is finally over if you find the main problem is the plumbing, start with that, but keep in mind that the cost of replacing the plumbing is quite high and all that it implies in terms of damage, dust, and other repairs around it.

Common problems with old plumbing and solutions

installing p trap

The main problem of these old houses, besides the wooden floors, is the pipes. The pipes (main water, sewage, and drain water) of old houses are made of galvanized iron and lead and their lifespan is approximately 30 years. That means that if a house is around that age, the first thing you should check is the pipes and types of pipes, both supply (drinking water) and discharge (drainage).

As well as the problem of the sewers, which were built, in many cases, sometime later, the old houses suffer from this problem. Such problems are so common, here we mention some of them and how to solve them.

Read more: Plumbing through floor joists

Old pipes

Any home built before 1990 has no regulations on materials or construction procedures, so you should be aware to check your plumbing thoroughly. If they have already been renovated or if they are about to be renovated.

Lead pipe

Was one of the first metals to be used for piping, due to its malleability and durability, without taking into account its high toxicity. It was not legally banned until 1986 when Congress amended the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Galvanized pipe

plumbing materials

Galvanized pipe is an alloy of iron coated with zinc, this material began to be used in the 1960s. With the passage of time these pipes erode, rust, and reduce their diameter increasing the pressure of the pipe and causing failure of the same, however, it is one of the materials that have a more useful life with an average of 60 years.

Polybutylene pipe

Announced at the time as the pipe of the future, a polymer created with the intention of replacing copper pipes but which eroded and flaked when in contact with water. Its common use was in mobile home installations in the 80s and 90s. It is not legally regulated by the building codes so if you find a pipe of this material you should replace it immediately.

Positioning of the pipes

When designing sanitary reds, they design with a minimum slope so that the water can flow by gravity. So as not to use a pump. However, during the construction period, the pipeline can move or shift over time, and if the pipeline shifts, it can have a negative slope, causing pits to form, sediment to accumulate, and the pipeline to fail.

This repair by replacing or removing the trench, and should be done by a professional plumber.

Sewer line failure

No one thinks about sewer channels until they fail. It is common for older homes to have no design for the sewer system and sewer connections are often clandestine or not properly inspected. In addition, older homes have a higher flow demand, so they collapse this system, especially if they have major renovations. They are prone to problems with tree roots, obstacles, pavements, etc.

Trenchless sewer line replacement or lining can be one of the fastest ways to fix failing sewer lines. In many cases, it is done in a single day. It is not an extensive job.

Outdated fixtures and connections

disconecting water supply

Nothing lasts forever. And so are sanitary fixtures from faucets, fixtures, and potable water (or white water) connections to sewage connections that need replacement. In white water, wear and tear and reduction of the pipe diameter due to internal corrosion is common, and in sewage water, the famous, toilet clog. There is a clog of sediments, waste, hair, etc.

Both cases treat with preventive maintenance, in white water, water dripping must be avoided at all costs, which implies revision and change of rubber in the connections, changes of hose, pipes, faucets, etc. And in black water to avoid that it passes a greater amount of residue. Once a year ask your trusted plumber for a deep revision of the plumbing and connections of your house.

Faulty repairs

This section is called do-it-yourself repairs. These older homes tend to have a lot of minor repairs, which can easily solve with items at home. Doing so can change the pressures in the plumbing system and cause major problems. For example, siphons set backward, improperly secured pipes, improperly installed water heaters, etc.

Before any repair, call your trusted plumber to do the job or give permission to proceed.

How to clean out pipes in houses?

You can use special chemical detergents but you run the risk of further corroding the pipe. You can try a paste of vinegar with baking soda, which acts as a scale remover and loosens the rust scales.

Cost to replace the plumbing in an old house

Fortunately, this type of project is usually not as costly as it seems, it can be chaotic depending on how many meters of plumbing to replace, the sanitary parts replaced, and whether walls or floors need to open up to do it. However, the average cost is usually around $6000.

Most plumbing projects range from $3,000 to $6,000, although more extensive jobs can run as high as $15,000.

With this guide, we hope you will solve the most common problems with old house plumbing or at least move to another property.

Old house plumbing. Planning as a new homeowner was last modified: September 19th, 2023 by Vanessa Gallanti
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