What is Galvanized Pipe? These are pipes dipped in a protective zinc coating to prevent rust and corrosion.
Galvanized pipes were made to replace the old lead piping used for home water supply lines. A lot of homes before the 196os had galvanized pipes for indoor plumping.
Generally, Galvanized pipe’s lifespan is between 40 and 50 years. But pipes that are well-built, well-installed, and well-maintained can go up to 70 or 100 years.
What is the Life Expectancy of Galvanized Piping?
In most cases, medium to high-range galvanized pipes can do 60-67 years of service before needing replacement.
If you are experiencing signs that your galvanized pipes are failing, it may be time to replace them quickly.
Is Galvanized Pipe Safe for Drinking Water?
Galvanized pipes free from corrosion and rust are safe to drink water from.
How to Tell If Galvanized Pipe Is Bad
Here are signs that your galvanized is bad:
- Lower water pressure
- Rust or brown-colored water from your taps or faucet
- Rust spots on pipes in your home or rust around your pipe joints
- Pin-hole leaks and ruptured pipes
- Hard water
- Age signs
Let’s discuss them in detail
The minerals contained in the water react with the zinc to create scale.
You’ll see that this issue is quite common with hard water. Once it builds, the water then passes through these pipes, and out comes a fogy look within the water.
Hard water is very high in mineral content.
Low Water Pressure
Scale buildup in your pipe uses up more space, day by day. As the sediment accumulates in the pipes, less water will flow through it. And, since there’s a low amount of water passing, it will also reduce water pressure.
Water stains are a sign that there is a leak somewhere.
So, check the pipes and confirm if the leak is from there.
Once the leak is identified, then you should take the necessary steps to correct it immediately.
Failure to do so can compound the problem at hand. Thereby, making it worse.
Identifying the Pipes
Yes, aging pipes will often give in to pressure and become defective really quickly.
It is important to know and understand what you’re dealing with. The first way of identifying it is by sight. Galvanized steel pipes are similar to nickel in color.
But, as it ages, it can vary from lighter to darker depending on your environmental conditions. Still, it can be hard to tell if the pipes are older or not by mere sight. This is why you should try a scratch test.
To conduct a scratch test, scratch the outside of the pipe with a screwdriver. For extra assurance, you will also stick a magnet to it.
If you get a silver-gray color, you may have galvanized steel. Lastly, if the magnet sticks to the pipe, it is most likely galvanized steel pipes.
To check and calculate the age of the galvanized pipes, check the year the home was initially constructed or bought.
You can easily use the age of your home to determine the age of your galvanized steel pipes. If they’re older than 40 years old, then you should schedule a consultation with a plumber.
While you might know the dangers they can present now, immediate action isn’t necessary. As long as they’re holding up well, there is no need to replace your galvanized steel pipes.
ALSO SEE: How Long Does Copper Pipe Last?
Should I Buy A House with Galvanized Plumbing?
Yes, you can. However, you need to factor the cost of changing the whole galvanized pipe into the cost of the home.
For instance, if the whole house is on galvanized pipes. Call an expert out to take a look at your plumbing. Most specialty companies will do this at no cost and then allow them to quote you a fee for replacement with PVC or with PEX.
Now, minus that price from the price you’d be paying for the house and inform the seller/agent so you two can come to an agreement.
When Should Galvanized Pipes Be Replaced?
Again, if your galvanized steel pipes are functioning well, and aren’t corroded or rusty then there’s no need to replace them just yet.
But there will come a time when it’s an unavoidable event to replace them. You’ll know it’s time to replace them when you notice the signs we’ve mentioned in a previous section.
To quickly recap, the signs of piping gone bad are:
- Water stains
- Hard water
- Low water pressure
- Rust around the pipe’s joints and rust spots on the pipes
- Signs of rupturing and signs of pin-hole leaks
What do I Replace My Galvanized Pipe With?
Galvanized pipes are no longer used in recent homes and for good reasons. Their constant exposure to water causes the pipes to corrode and rust on the inside. This is bad for your health.
The 3 most common types of pipes used to replace galvanized are:
- PEX (Cross-linked polyethylene),
- PVC-CPVC (polyvinyl chloride or chlorinated polyvinyl chloride) or
- Copper pipes.
Each pipe type has its own set of pros and cons.
How Much Does It Cost to Change Out Galvanized Pipes?
In most cases, it would cost you anywhere from $2,000 to $15,000 to replace your galvanized pipes.
For instance, the newer piping materials are cheaper, last longer, and are safer. So, we recommend switching to PEX or PVC.
My neighbor changed her galvanized piped two-bathroom home and that cost her $10,000. She replaced it with copper.
In comparison, if you opt to use PEX, the cost will hover around $4,000-$6,000. These figures should give you a rough estimate to apply to your situation.
Can Galvanized Pipes Cause Lead Poisoning?
Yes, it is possible for lead or cadmium to leak into your water system if your galvanized pipe is nearing the end of its service life or if it begins to rust.
Proper and Regular Maintenance Is the Key to Extending Their Lifespan
Yes, that’s right. The best way to help your galvanized pipes live up to their lifespan is by regularly maintaining them.
Once your pipes hit the 40-year mark, it is a good idea to have an annual visit from a local plumber.
The plumber then checks the overall health of your pipes in a detailed inspection.
You should definitely check the integrity of the pipes by looking for even the smallest leaks as well as corrosion or buildup of minerals.
If it is possible to correct the problem, your plumber will offer that as a solution. However, the plumber might suggest that the pipes be replaced. At that point, you will need to discuss more modern options with your plumber.
Home care should be taken seriously. Older homes tend to crave more focus on attention to detail since their parts aren’t what they used to be in the past.
Regardless of your situation, now you know what to do if you have galvanized piping. We hope you found the information above insightful and helpful!
Before you go, do you have other galvanized steep pipe concerns? Rust is a serious concern with this type of pipe. One of the options we mentioned above is to replace galvanized steel pipes with PVC or copper! Until next time!