older home plumbing

Buying an Older Home? Prepare for Life With Old Plumbing.

Old homes can have a lot of charm. Old pipes don't contribute to that charm. New Jersey is one of the original 13 colonies that first made up the United States of America, and we have the beautiful, and very old architectural charm to back that up. We're not suggesting that you walk away from that beautiful Victorian with the wrap-around porch and matured rose bushes.

We simply want you to be prepared for what lies in the walls of your older home. And we're not just talking about the 100+ year old homes with plaster and lath walls.

In the world of plumbing, anything older than 1960 is likely using galvanized piping. It's likely that some of that piping has been swapped out over the years, but it's important to keep an eye out for those areas that have not.

Hot Water Pipes Corrode the Fastest; What to Look Out For:

  • Listen to the water heater. Is it constantly running? That could be a sign of a leak in the system. 
  • Check water pressure. Any decrease in water pressure may be a sign of a leak. You may notice this first with hot water pressure, but cold water pipes are also liable to fail. 
  • Check the water bill. A spike in usage can hurt your wallet much more than the numbers on that bill indicate. 

What Kind of Sewer Lines do You Have?

Whether you have a septic and are responsible for the length of the sewer line to the tank, or have public sewer and are responsible as far as the hookup to the mainline (which can often be under the street itself,) as the homeowner, you will be responsible for those lines.

In addition to old age and corrosion, sewer lines can be compromised by tree roots. If there are large trees within 20 feet of your sewer line (or more, depending on the tree) you could be facing major problems in the future, if they're not silently causing one as we speak.

The longevity of your sewer pipes will be greatly dependent on what they are made of. Each of the common pipe materials have different expected useful lives, though external factors such as climate and the vicinity of trees can shorten the lifespan of the pipe.

Transite Sewer Pipes: Also known as AC Pipes (Asbestos-Cement Pipes.) These were installed primarily between the 50's and 70's, and while relatively resistant to corrosion, the technology for connecting these pipes was not as reliable then as today, which can lead to leaks and failures at the joints. The lifespan of these pipes is about 70 years. If you have a 1950 pipe, then look out for failure after the year 2020.

Clay Sewer Pipes: Clay pipes typically last between 50-60 years. They have been in use since about 4000 BC in the widely agreed upon birthplace of city plumbing: Babylonia. While you are not likely to find any Babylonian age clay pipes, it's not uncommon to find these in homes built prior to the 50's and occasionally in homes as late as the 70's.

Cast Iron Sewer Pipes: These were installed most often between the 50's and 70's and will last 75-100 years in most residential applications, so you can expect your 1950 Cast Iron Pipe to fail as early as the year 2025.

Orangeburg Sewer Pipes: These pipes begin to deform after 30 years and tend to fail after 50. Orangeburg pipe was used from 1860 until the 1972. If you have an orangeburg pipe, you should anticipate a failure in the next few years.

Lead Sewer Pipes: Lead sewer pipes can last 100 years, but they are not without their dangers. Lead pipes are gray in color and can be easily scratched with a knife. If you have lead pipes, you will want to replace them immediately, as they can leach lead into the water supply.

PVC Sewer Pipes: If you have PVC sewer pipes, thank your lucky stars. These pipes should last a good 100 years. PVC started rolling out in the 40s, so the year 2040, if you have a 1940's PVC pipe, is when you need to start worrying. (However, failure to take care of your pipes properly can always result in an early failure.

Read More About Sewer Lines in Old Homes Here. 

Preventing Leaks in Your Old Pipes

Older homes, prior to 1960 are often galvanized pipes. While previous homeowners may have replaced pipes that were corroded or clogged, that leaves many more that may be damaged or rusted that will need replacing.  An easy way to check is turn on your hot water, as they hot water pipes are the first to rust. If the pressure is low, this could be a sign of problems with your galvanized pipes. 

Other issues include:

• Old and Inefficient Plumbing Fixtures

          These may look beautiful, but everything has a lifespan. With constant use, these old fixtures will go through the normal process of wear and tear, leading to leaks and inefficient water flow. When renovating an older home, replace old fixtures with more efficient ones that help conserve water.

• Hard water – Pipes that are well maintained may last longer. Hard water does and will take a toll on pipes.

      Brass supply pipes can last between 40 to 70+ years. Copper pipes can last in excess of 50 years. Galvanized steel pipes can last between 20 and 50 years. Cast iron drain lines have a lifespan of 75 to 100 years. Lead pipes, used in the early 1900s, have a life expectancy of 100 years. PVC drain lines will last indefinitely.

You have to think about the age of the home plumbing as well as the wallpaper you want to remove. Jersey Plumbing can help with those plumbing choices so you can truly have the older home of your dreams.

 

 

The Best Prevention for Pipe Disasters is to Identify the problems before they happen, and have a licensed plumber from Jersey Plumbing Service replace any sections of pipe that aren't performing well, or that are heading for failure. Be sure to insure your water and sewer lines from the city if you have city water. It's far better to pay a deductible, than the cost of tearing up the ground from the house... sometimes to halfway under the street.

older sewer lines what to expect

Older Homes & Sewer Lines: What to Expect from Your #2 Plumbing.

Unfortunately, most homeowners have no idea what kind of sewer pipe they have, until they have cause to dig it up. However, when you are purchasing a home, there is no harm in asking the seller to disclose this information if they happen to be aware of it. If they've had to dig up a septic, have had a sewer line inspection, or have trenched the yard for other reasons, there's a possibility that they've had a sneak peak at what kind of sewer pipe you are buying.

old pipes1

If the house is in an older development, with houses built by the same builder, you can also pose the question to the neighborhood via Facebook or Nextdoor, as you likely have what they have. Otherwise, you'll have to be prepared for a number of possibilities based on the year your house was built.

In addition to old age and corrosion, sewer lines can be compromised by tree roots. If there are large trees within 20 feet of your sewer line (or more, depending on the tree) you could be facing major problems in the future, if they're not silently causing one as we speak. But the longevity of your sewer pipes will be greatly dependent on what they are made of. Each of the common pipe materials have different expected useful lives, though external factors such as climate and the vicinity of trees can shorten the lifespan of the pipe.

The Various Older Sewer Lines that Can be Found in Older Homes:

Transite Sewer Pipes: Also known as AC Pipes (Asbestos-Cement Pipes.) These were installed primarily between the 50's and 70's, and while relatively resistant to corrosion, the technology for connecting these pipes was not as reliable then as today, which can lead to leaks and failures at the joints. The lifespan of these pipes is about 70 years. If you have a 1950 pipe, then look out for failure after the year 2020.

Clay Sewer Pipes: Clay pipes typically last between 50-60 years. They have been in use since about 4000 BC in the widely agreed upon birthplace of city plumbing: Babylonia. While you are not likely to find any Babylonian age clay pipes, it's not uncommon to find these in homes built prior to the 50's and occasionally in homes as late as the 70's.

Cast Iron Sewer Pipes: These were installed most often between the 50's and 70's and will last 75-100 years in most residential applications, so you can expect your 1950 Cast Iron Pipe to fail as early as the year 2025.

Orangeburg Sewer Pipes: These pipes begin to deform after 30 years and tend to fail after 50. Orangeburg pipe was used from 1860 until the 1972. If you have an orangeburg pipe, you should anticipate a failure in the next few years.

Lead Sewer Pipes: Lead sewer pipes can last 100 years, but they are not without their dangers. Lead pipes are gray in color and can be easily scratched with a knife. If you have lead pipes, you will want to replace them immediately, as they can leach lead into the water supply.

PVC Sewer Pipes: If you have PVC sewer pipes, thank your lucky stars. These pipes should last a good 100 years. PVC started rolling out in the 40s, so the year 2040, if you have a 1940's PVC pipe, is when you need to start worrying. (However, failure to take care of your pipes properly can always result in an early failure.

 

bg

Protecting Your Pipes From the Cold

There is plenty advice out there for winterizing a home that will be vacant. But what about the house we’re living in, when the temperature drops significantly? If you’ve ever experienced a burst pipe, you know it is one of the most costly damages that can occur. There are some steps you can take to reduce the chances of frozen, burst pipes.

Preparing Garden Spigots for Winter:

Before the cold arrives, you should be removing, draining, and storing all of your garden hoses. The inside valves (bibs) that feed your garden spigot should be closed, and the outside hose bibs should be open to allow any water in the line to drain out. Keep the outside valve open.

Preparing Poorly Insulated or Non-insulated Pipes for the Cold:

Pipes that run along outside of the home or are in colder places such as the garage or along an exterior wall that isn’t well insulated can be fitted with a “pipe sleeve” to help insulate them from the cold. Building supply stores carry these in a number of sizes. If there is an extreme dip in temperature, the pipes under your sink on an exterior wall may be especially prone to freezing.

You can keep the thermostat at a minimum of 55 degrees and keep a slow drip in your faucet to prevent freezing. If these efforts have failed in the past, you may want to keep your cabinet doors open, and place an old pillow between the pipes and the wall, in lieu of pipe sleeves.

Leaving home during the winter

If you do have to leave home during the winter, do not shut off the heat. Keep the thermostat at a minimum of 55 degrees, and open the cabinets to allow the warm air to reach the pipes under sinks.

Preparing for the Worst Case Scenario

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, pipes can freeze. An unanticipated power outage or heating fuel shortage can result in no method to heat your home. If your pipes do freeze or burst, you will want to know exactly where the main water valve is in your home in case you need to shut it off.

replace old plumbing

Is it Time for Your Old Plumbing to be Replaced?

As the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

The age of your pipes is a factor in their eventual failing, but performance is everything. Each home has a different water supply. A home with more acidic water may wear out your pipes much faster than a home fed by a clean natural spring nearby.

Signs Your Pipes are Failing:

·         Your water has an odor

Your water supply should never smell. Most of the time, any odor coming from your pipes is indicative of bacteria growth. When pipes begin to scale, bacteria can start to gather and fester. This is a good sign a section of your plumbing may need to be replaced. A less common cause of odor is methane in the water supply. Methane is flammable and is not a welcome guest in any pipe system. Lastly is chlorine. If you smell chlorine, it’s not a sign that your pipes are failing, but it may be a motivating factor for improving your water conditioning system. Chlorine is actually recommended by the EPA to prevent the spread of bacteria and disease, but too much of is generally unpleasant.

o   If your water has an odor, you should have your water tested by a plumber. Contact Jersey Plumbing services today for a quick and easy water test. (908) 281-7101

·         Cloudy or colored water

Dark water is an indication of corrosion in your pipes. As your pipes rust, the particles will be swept into the water supply, resulting in tinted water. Pipes with corrosion problems are more likely to clog, which can result in a burst pipe.

Cloudy water is almost always a result of air bubbles, which is not a problem. Occasionally, cloudy water is from mineral or sediment deposits. Water with a lot of sediment is more prone to clogging your pipes. In rare cases, cloudy water can be a sign of methane gas, which may or may not have an odor.

o   If your water is discolored, you should have your water tested by a plumber. Contact Jersey Plumbing services today for a quick and easy water test. (908) 281-7101

·         Water Stains or a Musty Smell

When your pipes start to leak behind the walls or in the ceilings, it may not become apparent until there are brown water stains on your walls/ceilings or a musty smell in any room of the house. When something smells “musty” what you actually smell are the waste products of mold. (Essentially, you smell mold farts.) Mold grows only in moist areas, so if you smell their byproduct, or see signs of mold on your walls/ceilings/floors, there’s a good chance you have a leak somewhere.

o   If your notice any of these, you will want to get a plumber immediately. Water damage gets more expensive to repair for every minute that it’s left to sit and seep into your home. Contact Jersey Plumbing Service at (908) 281-7101

 

 

Call Today!(908) 281-7101

Would you like to have your pipes professionally assessed? Contact Jersey Plumbing Service Today!

Jersey Plumbing Service
PO Box 7371
Hillsborough, NJ 08844
Click to Email Us
Fax: 1-908-647-1517

Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved
Site Designed & Managed by Lattice Marketing