Indoor plumbing is less than a century old. This seems an astounding fact when you look at the transitional history of fitting houses with pipes.
In the 1930's, plumbing started its journey toward becoming a fixture in all homes, both those in-town and for families that lived the country lifestyle. Copper and galvanized-coated steel pipes became the envy of all for they meant the end to tedious hauling of water and outhouses.
Even though indoor plumbing has yet celebrated its 100th-birthday, check your home for signs that it's time to replace your current system.
Which Pipes Are in Your Home?
- Steel Pipes
Steel was the first pipe material used during the modernization of indoor plumbing. This material in the plumbing industry has far more cons than pros. It's significant weight makes it harder to work with and both galvanized and zinc-coated steel have limited lifespans.
- Copper Pipes
Copper is a thin-walled metal pipe most often found in homes built from the 1960's to the present day.
- PVC Pipes
Polyvinyl chloride, commonly called PVC, hit the plumbing market in the 1950's. It was the first pipe made of a hard plastic. PVC comes in a number of types, each with its own temperature rating and diameter.
- PEX Pipes
PEX piping is a hard plastic composite and the universally adopted predecessor to PVC. If you've recently purchased a home, it's likely you have PEX as it's very flexible, easy to install, and can be used in most new plumbing installations, including retrofits for existing homes. Moreover, like PVC, it doesn't corrode, rust, or degrade over time.
Symptoms of a Failing System
- Toilets make noise when you flush them and bathtubs whirlpool as they drain, but if you hear any out-of-the-ordinary noises, like gurgling, it might be a sign of a drain struggling to move water.
- Is your toilet constantly running? Do you hear water running through the pipes? Can you follow it along a wall? These are clear indicators you need to call a professional.
- There are countless reasons for occasional lack of water pressure, but when it's a true indicator of an issue and goes ignored, you could find yourself with a serious emergency. Fractured pipes, system leaks, and eroded lines can lead to a catastrophic loss of system functionality.
- Did your pipes freeze temporarily on a bitter winter's night, then recover independently the next day? Don't assume that everything righted itself entirely. Call a professional to be sure your pipes didn't suffer a slow-presenting issue.
- The smell of sewage, more commonly described as rotten eggs, isn't necessarily an indicator of a septic malfunction. It can also be a sign you have a broken vent or pipe which, in addition to causing environmental issues can adversely affect your foundation.
- The smell of natural gas is a tell-tale sign you have a big problem. Call both your plumber and your utility company without hesitation.
If you notice one-or-two of these signs, you may still have time to call a plumber and prevent total system failure. If you ticked more than a few off as you read, the prognosis may be much worse. Call a professional today.