Cornel's Tips and Tricks

Dangers of Galvanized Piping

They just don’t make ’em like they used to, right? Normally that’s used to imply that the old ways were better, but in some cases, it’s the opposite. Plumbing technology has only gotten better with the years, so older products tend to be less effective and even dangerous. Both these things are true of galvanized piping. If you have an older home, it’s very possible you still have these outdated pipes in your home. By 2022, these are more akin to a ticking time bomb than a standard plumbing system, so it’s pretty important you diagnose and assess your situation before they become a problem.

 

Background

 

Galvanized steel, or steel that’s been dipped in zinc, was an industry standard for years. Thought to be a good replacement for lead pipes, they were pretty much everywhere up until the 1960’s when their main issues started becoming apparent: galvanized pipes corrode. With enough time, these pipes rot from the inside out, causing massive plumbing problems that you don’t need to be a plumber to see. In recent years, PVC and copper piping have replaced galvanized materials as the industry mainstays, and buildings built after the 60’s shouldn’t have anything to worry about. If you’re in an older home or have a business in an older building, you probably want to keep reading.

Galvanized Steel Pipe Warning Signs

If you’re concerned about your pipes being galvanized steel, it’s best to get them dealt with sooner rather than later. Here are a few of the tell-tale signs of trouble ahead with galvanized plumbing:

  • Leaks Unsurprisingly, heavily corroded pipes tend to have some holes. Leaks in and around your home may be coming from galvanized pipes past their expiration date. Because the corrosion in these pipes starts from the inside out, there may not be any visible rusting outside of the small area where the leak is coming from. But because leaks don’t always appear in easily identifiable places, there are a few main sign to watch for. These include
    • Discoloration in the walls from water damage
    • Musty, moldy smells from inside the walls
    • Mold accumulation
    • Less water coming out at the faucet
    • No water coming out at the faucet
  • Water discoloration Because galvanized steel pipes rust from the inside out, there would a LOT of rust on the inside of the pipes. Being that rust is always that familiar reddish-brown color, that’s the shade to be wary of in your water. If you notice your water is coming out any color other than crystal clear, that’s cause enough for alarm, but that rust shade of red is a sign that the problem is within your own home’s plumbing system, likely rusted out galvanize plumbing.
  • Low water pressure Ever wonder why or how your water comes out of the faucet or showerhead with enough force. Water pressure. The inside of your pipes have two things in them: water and air. The differential between the two substances in the pipe creates pressure which forces the water along the pipe and out the faucet/shower head/various other plumbing fixture. This works because of the high pressure environment in the pipes. Holes in the pipes decrease the pressure and make the water come out of fixtures more slowly.

What You Can Do About Galvanized Steel Pipes in Your House 

The first step to confirming beyond a shadow of a doubt that you have galvanized steel pipes in your home. If you can see your pipes and they’re copper colored you’re safe. If they’re silver colored, scratch the side with a coin. If paint comes off to reveal a copper color, you’re set. If there’s no paint and your pipes really are that metallic color, you have a problem. You have galvanized steel pipes.

 

The best course of action is a repiping; replacement of all the pipes in your home. While this may seem extreme, it’s a necessary procedure. The galvanized steel pipes will eventually fail, if they haven’t already. This will result in massive catastrophic failure of your entire plumbing system that can include massive leaks, flooding, lack of running water, and water damage from said failures. Cornel’s is uniquely equipped to repipe an entire home or business with our state-of-the-art tools and plumbing gear. Call us today for a consultation.

 

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