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Renovating? Signs Your Pipes Need Replacing and What Type is Best

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Plumbing replacements can sometimes be costly, especially if left for too late. When it comes to your home plumbing system, it’s easy to forget to maintain it. After all, out of sight, out of mind, right? This temporary peace soon disappears when your main line bursts in the midst of winter.
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With an older plumbing system, your pipes likely can’t take the cold temperatures. Even leaving your water running might not be enough to prevent disaster, and it’s a waste of water to do so. Depending on the age and condition of your existing system, it may be time to call it quits and invest in new plumbing.
Some homeowners may be reluctant to replace their system because of the time it takes, or cost. Remember it’s much easier to replace your pipes than the constant worry of water damage and other mishaps. Save yourself the time, money, and stress by getting new and reliable pipes.

Signs Your Current System Needs Replacing

Some little things here and there aren’t necessarily all bad, but it’s important to keep an eye out for the following patterns:
  • Low water pressure: this can arise from small holes and leaks throughout your system. Extremely low water pressure usually indicates larger cracks or leaks throughout the line. This can cause water to pool and creates structural damage and mould, for starters.
  • Discoloured or smelly water: consistent colouring and odours point to severe corrosion. Older pipes deteriorate, causing rust and mineral deposits. Not only are these harmful to your health, but they can also lead to pipe clogging, low pressure, and more leaks
  • Increased water bills: leaking pipes waste water, along with inviting mold and mildew into your home. Compare your current water bill to previous ones to make sure everything looks normal.
  • Noisy pipes: water usually makes noise as it travels through your system, but constant loud noises signal a deeper problem. If anything, it just means your pipes are old and may have other issues.
  • Bursting pipes: the winter months can present the perfect circumstances to freeze your pipes, but newer systems withstand these. If you’ve had reoccurring problems with freezing or bursting pipes, it’s time to think about getting new ones.
Signs that your pipes are having issues aren’t always internal, either. Keep an eye out for pooling water in your yard. If it hasn’t been raining and you see puddles, your underground system is likely malfunctioning. Err on the side of caution by contacting a local plumber for an inspection.

Which Pipe Type is the Best Replacement?

Now that you know that your system needs replacing, you can begin the process. One of the first decisions you’ll meet is what type of pipe to get. While you’ve likely heard of the dangers of older lead or galvanized pipes, it’s unlikely that your home supports a lead system. Check to see if when your home was built; if your system was installed before 1960, you may have lead pipes.
Regardless of your current system type, there are far more choices today than there used to be. Copper used to be the most common option for residential pipes. Here are some basic types and their typical lifespans:
  • Copper – 70-80 years
  • Steel – 20-50 years
  • Brass – 80-100 years
  • Plastic – indefinite
    • CPVC
    • PEX
Copper is a viable choice for many homeowners, because it’s durable and meets many existing building codes. Tools and materials for copper pipe assembly are usually inexpensive and easy to obtain. But, it’s always important to look at all available options. Many plastic piping types can be even more affordable than copper options.

Plastic Piping Types

As you can see, plastic piping has several types, but the most commonly used ones include PEX and CPVC. While CPVC is inexpensive, it’s also non-flexible. CPVC also requires specific solvent and glue during assembly.
By contrast, PEX piping provides flexibility. PEX also allows convenient “fishing” through tight spaces. An experienced plumbing technician can place this pipe around corners, reducing the amount of joint fittings. And unlike copper or CPVC piping, PEX has fitted joints that don’t require glue or solder joints. This is perfect for pressure applications common in in-home systems.
For cold climates that experience extreme temperatures, PEX piping is an ideal choice. Due to its expansive and flexible qualities, PEX accommodates stretching and pressure. This useful trait allows the convenient prevention of pipe bursts and leaks.

Final Considerations

No matter what type of piping you choose, it’s important to account for your local building codes. Because PEX is a fairly new pipe material, some municipal or commercial building codes don’t allow for this type of piping. Check with your source on building codes before proceeding.
In addition, personal preferences should also contribute to your final choice. Regardless of copper or PEX piping, hiring a qualified plumber will ensure the success of your new system.