Replace Galvanized Water Pipes
LESLIE: Danny in Texas has a question about leaky pipes. What can we help you with?
DANNY: I have a house that’s about 55 years old. It has galvanized water pipes. There are leaks on the hot-water side. On the cold-water side, if I turn the valve off at the hot-water heater, it seems to hold the water pressure.
My question is, should I replace all of the pipes or just the hot-water pipes?
TOM: Well, if you have galvanized water pipes, it’s only a matter of time. Typically, here’s how you go about replacing that type of piping system. First step is to replace everything that’s accessible. So, I would not distinguish between hot and cold pipes; I’d replace them all because it’s going to be less expensive for you to have the plumber come in once than twice for all that. Secondly, you replace – if you have a galvanized water pipe that’s the main – you replace that next. And then thirdly, whenever you have walls torn open in your house and do any renovation whatsoever, when you find a pipe you replace it then.
So you do all the easy stuff first; then you typically do the main and then you do the vertical risers, because they tend to rust the least.
DANNY: OK. So basically what you’re saying is if it’s there, get it out.
TOM: If it’s there, get it out because it’s probably 60-plus years old right now and what happens is they will rust internally, they’ll close down kind of like a clogged artery. Those pipes, if they’re an 1/8-of-an-inch thick, they can add about 8 times that much rust to it, so you essentially can close down to a really tiny hole in that pipe.
And then the other thing that happens is it actually breaks through the outside surface. It’ll leak a little bit, Danny, and then it’ll kind of – the mineral salts will dry on the surface and kind of scab it over and then with expansion and contraction, it’ll start to leak again and again and again. So those pipes are at the end of a normal life cycle and they really should just be replaced. And I wouldn’t differentiate between hot and cold at this point. If it’s accessible, I’d have them all done at the same time.
DANNY: OK. About how much should I expect this to cost?
TOM: Well, it really depends on how many pipes you’ve got there and how hard it is to get to everything. But just get a couple of different bids. You might want to go to ServiceMagic.com and post your job there. You get contractors that compete for it that way and you can also check their references and their records and their licenses and all that sort of thing through those folks at ServiceMagic.
DANNY: Well, very good. Well, I greatly appreciate your advice here.
TOM: You’re very welcome, Danny. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.