Common Plumbing Problems in Old Homes

Amazing! Common Plumbing Problems in Old Homes

Information about Common Plumbing Problems in Old Homes

Phil Puccio

Old, they say, is gold. Many people love vintage homes for their craftsmanship and fascinating architectural details. From arched doors to moldings and stained glass windows, older homes have many features that attract home buyers. However, regardless of the charm they exude, older homes can come with a myriad of maintenance challenges.

Plumbing is such a challenge. Even a general pre-purchase home inspection can’t reveal every problem – or potential problems. Hiring a professional plumbing inspector is an investment that could save you buying a “mine of money” in the event major problems are discovered – or at least let you know how much you can budget for repairs or use as bargaining chips for the selling price below, if you can decide to continue.

at Adam and Son plumbing, we want our valued customers to make wise decisions. That’s why we’ve rounded up some plumbing topics to keep in mind if you are planning on buying a home that is more than a few decades old. And if a vintage house is already your home, this is where you need to keep your eyes peeled.

Piping problems in older houses – quietly ticking time bombs

Pipes are usually out of sight and out of mind. Unfortunately, old homes tend to have pipes nearing the end of their useful life or made from materials that have been found to be hazardous to health or are prone to premature deterioration. The good people at Express sewer & drain, Rancho Cordova, CA provides a comprehensive listing that includes the following.

Old pipelines – Homes built prior to the 1990s could have obsolete, hazardous piping material that is no longer allowed by state building codes.

There are three types of obsolete pipes that you may come across in an old house:

Lead – In the past, sewer pipes and main water pipes were usually made of lead. Lead, one of the oldest metals for piping, was the most common material before cast iron – and was also used to solder copper pipe fittings. However, lead eventually turned out to be highly toxic. There is no safe lead exposure – especially for pregnant women and children. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), even at low concentrations, lead has been shown to affect IQ, alertness, and academic performance. Making lead an even more insidious threat is its difficulty in being detected since it cannot be tasted, smelled or seen.

Our blog post – “Are lead pipes contaminating your water?? “- elaborates on the dangers of lead pipes. The United States has restricted the use of lead since the 1920s and 1986 by changing the Safe Drinking Water Act.

galvanized – Galvanized iron pipes with a zinc coating were widely used for water pipes in houses built before the 1960s. Zinc erodes over time, causing the pipe to corrode and break. Although these pipes are durable (they can last 60 years), rust causes them to start clogging much sooner. Minerals present in the water react with the pipe, causing mineral deposits. This in turn leads to corrosion. Our blog post – “How to tell if your pipes are corroding“- covers problems with galvanized pipes (as well as polybutylene pipes) in more detail.

Polybutylene –Polybutylene tubing was introduced in the 1970s as a replacement for copper tubing and found widespread use in the 1980s. Unfortunately, the manufacturer was forced to cash out millions of dollars after a class action lawsuit alleged the pipes were defective. Although the manufacturer never acknowledged a defect, oxidizers in public water systems caused a chemical reaction with the plastic, causing it to flake, become brittle, and crack. Although it was primarily used in RV installations, any home built or remodeled in the 1980s and early 1990s can have the plastic tubing somewhere. No longer manufactured or rated to U.S. building codes, all existing polybutylene tubing should be replaced before it fails.

Bulbous pipes – Most of the pipes in your house run under your house. Your home moves and settles over the years, cause your pipes to become sloped or bulbous. As the pipe shifts down, it creates a negative head that restricts water flow and creates bends in which litter and sediment build up over time. Undetected, bulbous pipes can cause blockages and leaks.

Defective sewer pipe – A broken sewer line can cause sewage to get into the ground or back into your home. Our blog post – “Common sewer problems and their causes“- covers this topic in more detail, but old houses are more prone to a sewer that is shifting or damaged Tree roots. In addition, vintage homes were built before the invented gadgets popular today – such as dishwashers and garbage disposal – that put additional stress on a sewer line. The situation can get worse if your home has been extensively renovated, including plumbing.

Old devices and connections that cannot be repaired

Sinks, tubs and Toilets all have a useful life – as do water taps. The first three are referred to in the professional world as “fittings”, while taps, shower heads, shower valves and shut-off valves – basically all devices that control and direct the flow of water – are referred to as “fittings”. Our blog post – “Why you need to upgrade your plumbing fixtures and fittings“- covers this topic in more detail.

As a blog post for All plumbing in the city, Rancho Cucamonga, CA explains, “In addition to the lack of style, outdated plumbing and fittings are at greater risk of falling apart, leaking, and even causing flooding. This is particularly common if significant limescale has built up on your devices over time. “

Express sewer & drain adds this observation: “Corrosion and general wear and tear can result in restricted water flow, broken buttons, and leaks that make simply using water in the home an inconvenience at best and an expensive disaster at worst. While a lot of people try to just cope with failing pipelines, things can break at the worst possible time. “

Botched amateur repairs from previous owners over the years

Previous owners may have tried DIY repairs to save money. As Scott Sidler writes for The craftsman blog, “When you buy an older home, you buy into repairs that the previous owners may or may not have done. For better or worse, new homeowners are at the mercy of what previous owners did with the plumbing system. The older the house, the better the chances that significant repairs have been made.

“Especially with vintage homes without proper documentation, it is not obvious to know exactly which work has been completed and which has not. It is therefore always a good idea to visit a plumbing professional to assess the condition of your entire plumbing system.

“An experienced plumber can provide much-needed insights into the condition of your existing system and give advice on expected maintenance requirements. Without their know-how, homeowners may blindly face serious plumbing challenges. ”

The take-home message

Thanks Scott! We couldn’t have said it better ourselves! To keep your home comfortable, pleasant and healthy for you and your family, it is important to keep the sanitary facilities in your old house in top condition. If you are looking for an experienced plumber, our Master plumber at Adam and Son plumbing pride themselves on serving Central Florida homes and businesses with the highest levels of quality and experience for over 60 years. We are a family business and all of our plumbers are state-certified master plumbers. Contact us to get the plumbing of your home in top repair – and keep it going.

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