Why Are Galvanized Pipes a Problem in Older Homes?

Drain & Sewer Tips

Posted by Spencer | December 25, 2023 | Reading Time:

If your Phoenix home's plumbing needs to be replaced, Rainforest Plumbing & Air can help. Reserve your appointment today!

It's not unusual for an older house in Arizona to have outdated plumbing systems. For many residents, that includes galvanized piping. If you're asking, "Why are galvanized pipes a problem in older homes?" you're not alone. 

Rainforest Plumbing & Air offers professional main sewer line repairs in Phoenix, Arizona, along with many other plumbing services. As one of the leading plumbing companies serving local residents, we recommend replacing galvanized pipes for the following reasons. 

What Is Galvanized Plumbing?

Galvanized plumbing refers to steel pipes with a zinc coating. The purpose of the coating is to prevent rust and corrosion. Unfortunately, corrosion still occurs to the insides of the plumbing over time due to constant exposure to water. 

This plumbing material was most common in houses built before 1960. 

Why Are Galvanized Pipes Problematic for Older Residences?

The answer to, "Why are galvanized pipes a problem in older homes?" is multi-faceted. The fact that the pipes corrode from the inside out creates several issues. In almost all situations, older homes with galvanized pipelines will need plumbing repiping to replace the pipes with stronger, more durable options like copper or PVC pipes.

Here's why.

Plumbing Issues

With the corrosion occurring throughout the galvanized steel plumbing system, an older house will likely have extensive plumbing problems. For example, the water pressure in the home may decline or stop entirely as the pipes break down. Inconsistent erosion may cause some parts of the house to have the ideal water pressure while others suffer. 

Water leaks are another problem. As pipes erode, they weaken and become more likely to develop holes and cracks. Unless you treat the issue immediately by replacing the old, damaged pipes, the water leaks can result in extensive damage to your flooring, walls, ceilings, furniture, and other items. 

Plumbing repiping for an older home is a major project with a hefty investment. Still, you can end up in a worse condition by ignoring the problem and having to deal with expensive plumbing and property repairs due to water damage. 

Health Problems

When galvanized steel pipes age, the zinc coating covering its interior breaks down, leaving the pipe vulnerable to ongoing corrosion. The corrosion can cause a hazardous lead buildup inside the plumbing, which can transfer to the home's water supply. 

Despite lead being a common metal, consuming too much of it can cause severe health complications. If it's in your water supply, and you drink a lot of tap water, you could have brain or kidney damage or a decline in red blood cell production, resulting in less oxygen getting to all parts of your body. Pregnant women, children, and infants are most vulnerable to lead poisoning. 

The corrosion of the pipes could also expose your household to cadmium, another natural element. Ingesting water with cadmium might not produce as many illnesses as water from sanitary sewer overflows, but it's still dangerous to children and older adults. 

Discolored Water

The hazards of galvanized pipes don't stop with pipe corrosion and lead and cadmium contamination in the water supply. The rust particles will also make their way through your water supply, resulting in reddish-brown water from both the hot and cold taps. Though rusty water is generally not unsafe to drink, it's smelly and foul-tasting. 


Unsure If Your Home Has Galvanized Pipes? Here's How To Tell

If you're not certain if your house has galvanized pipes, you can check your plumbing with the help of a magnet and screwdriver. Find a part of your house where pipes enter the property. Scratch the pipe's surface to reveal the color underneath.

If you see copper and the magnet doesn't stick to the spot, your plumbing has copper pipes. A white color without a magnet reaction means your pipes are a durable plastic like PVC. However, if the underlying color is gray or silver and the magnet sticks to it, your pipes are galvanized steel and need replacing. 

Rely on Rainforest Plumbing & Air To Replace Your Outdated Plumbing

Now that you know the answer to, "Why are galvanized pipes a problem in older homes?" reach out to our team at Rainforest Plumbing & Air. We provide meticulous plumbing inspections, repairs, replacements, and installations throughout Phoenix, Arizona and the surrounding communities.

Whether your property has a slab leak or needs repiping with higher-quality materials, we have the skills and expertise to do the job correctly the first time; call us to request a consultation with our Rainforest Plumbing & Air professionals.

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