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The Lifespan Of Residential Plumbing Pipes


An important issue for Houston homeowners to consider is the type of pipes used in the home and their expected lifespan. Although there are several materials used to make pipes, there are two main types of pipes. The first type is supply pipes. These are the pipes that bring water to appliances or faucets. Since they are pressurized, their lifespan is generally shorter. The second type is drain pipes, which are used to carry water away from fixture drains or appliance drains. They are not pressurized. It is important to know the types of pipes used in the home, how long they have been there and when to call a Houston residential plumber.

Copper Pipes

These pipes are about the color of a dull penny and may have a greenish tint due to oxidation. They are commonly used for water supply lines and are typically found in buildings constructed after 1950. Their lifespan is at least 50 years or possibly a little bit longer.

Brass Pipes

If homeowners have these pipes, they are usually yellow and shiny in appearance. They are rarely used for piping. When they are used in residential structures, they are typically screwed together and not soldered. Their lifespan is between 50 and 70 years.

Cast Iron Pipes

These gray-colored pipes are usually used for drain lines in homes and are common in older buildings. Their average lifespan range is between 75 and 100 years when used as drain pipes.

PEX Pipes

PEX is a durable and flexible form of plastic that was used for residential pipes starting in the 1980s. It is often identifiable by its blue cold water lines and red hot water lines. However, the pipes may also be clear for both hot and cold water. For these pipes, the average lifespan is at least 40 years.

PVC Pipes

PVC pipes are usually opaque and white in color. When used in a home, the waste lines are larger in diameter than the supply lines. The pieces are glued together. Since PVC was introduced in the 1970s and used mostly after the 1990s, it is typically seen in newer homes. They are also present in homes that have been renovated. The lifespan is estimated to be at least 75 years for supply lines. For drain lines, the life expectancy is indefinite.

Galvanized Pipes

Galvanized steel or iron pipes are usually only seen in homes constructed before 1950. Galvanized pipes look dark gray or black on the outside and are known to rot from the inside out. This results in flaking and water impurity. Since their lifespan is between 20 and 50 years, they should be replaced. In addition to being a risk for water impurity, they are also considered a concern with many insurance companies and may affect premium calculations.

Lead Pipes

These are dull gray in color and are very rare today. They were used in older homes constructed in the 1800s. By 1920, they were banned for use in residential homes. Their surface can easily be scratched with a knife or key. If these dangerous pipes are present, have them replaced immediately.

For lifespan estimates of all other types of pipes, you can find information in your home records. Look at reports from when the home was built. There should be information about the pipes and their estimated age. If there were renovations to replace or partially replace outdated pipes, that may be included as well. When in doubt, have a Houston residential plumber perform an inspection. While you have a plumber onsite, have them check to see if you need a Houston hot water heater repair and the plumbing company can also fix damaged pipes and replace outdated ones.

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