Understanding how long your pipes will last can be a difficult thing. For starters, every home has a different plumping system and depending on what year your house was built, your pipes are likely as old or as new as your plumbing system itself – unless of course, you replaced them all or some parts at some point.
More importantly, however, pipe lifespan has a lot to do with what materials your pipes were constructed with in the first place.
You should keep on reading to learn more about the lifespan of water lines, and when to replace your pipes based on what material they are made from.
The Following are some average lifespans from the US Department of Housing, and Urban Development for the various metal types used for main water lines:
- Brass Pipes – Lifespan is between 40-70 years
- Copper Pipe – Lifespan is approximately 50 years
- Cast Iron Pipe – Lifespan is between 70-100 years
- Lead Pipe– Lifespan is 100 years
- Galvanized steel Pipe – Lifespan is 20-50 years
- PVC (polyvinyl chloride) Pipe – Lifespan is indefinite
What Your Pipes Are Made Of & How Long Do Water Lines Last?
In America, copper remains one of the most used materials in plumbing systems.
Copper pipes last for about 70 to 80 years.
Is your house recently constructed? Then your copper pipes are probably in good shape. If, however, your house is on the older side, you should talk to a plumber about the condition of your pipes, because if you wait to replace copper piping for too long, the metal can begin to experience corrosion, and enter your water.
That said, aside PVC, Copper is still the most common option for metal piping.
Brass piping is a bit less common than copper piping but has proven to have a longer service life.
In most cases, under adequate care, brass pipes can last 80-100 years. But, brass pipes are not commonly used in this day and age as they often contain and leak trace levels of lead into home water supply systems.
Galvanized steel piping serves for roughly 80-100 years.
You can dip it in a protective zinc coating to prevent corrosion. These pipe types were common in American households before the 1960s.
Despite their durable build, galvanized steel pipes begin to rust after a couple of years, making them less durable than initially advertised.
This is why they are not used as much in plumbing construction and installation today.
Cast iron pipes will serve 80-100 years.
They are constructed to withstand high levels of water pressure. But, like galvanized steel, cast iron piping has been found to be susceptible to rust over time.
PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)
Traditionally, PVC piping only lasts between 25-40 years. However, the recent improvement in technological feats has increased the lifespan of PVC to 70 years or more.
While they aren’t made from the same materials as metal piping, they are a good option since they do not corrode, or rust, aren’t expensive, and are easy to work with and fix.
Polybutylene will last anywhere from 10 to 15 years.
These were mainly used between the late ‘70s and the mid-90s. This material is cheap and the cost of installation is relatively cheap too.
But these pipes are flimsy and will break after 10-15 years. Because of this, it is extremely unlikely you have polybutylene pipes in your home, but if you do, you will want to have them replaced sooner rather than later.
Lead pipes can last up to 100 years. But these pipes introduce lead into your water system.
Note: YOU NEED TO REPLACE THEM IMMEDIATELY if you suspect lead pipes are in your home. It is extremely toxic to humans, pets, and plants.
How Long Should My Water Pipes Last?
Below are estimations for the lifespan of common plumbing materials in the home:
Supply lines are constantly receiving and transmitting water pressure and because of that, they suffer the most wear and tear.
This is why you may first experience some leaking there first. The good news is unless your home is very old, you shouldn’t expect to have your supply pipes replaced completely.
Here are the estimated lifespans for common supply pipes:
Copper Pipes: 70-80 years
Galvanized Steel Pipes: 80-100 years
Brass Pipes: 80-100 years
Faucet issues can be repaired with ease. However, if after repair, they still constantly get faulty then it may be time t replace them.
Most times, people replace faucets for cosmetic reasons like:
Ease of use
An upgrade to the bathroom
Machine Supply Hoses
Washing machine leaks are among the most typical damage-causing leaks in the home.
Generally, it is advisable to replace your washing machine supply hoses every 3 years. You should also check the hoses for:
Damage: If you can see obvious kinks, cracks, or unraveling, you will need to buy a new hose NOW.
Water: If the hose is rusting or leaking, turn off your water supply and call a local plumbing professional
Bubbles: If the hose is bubbling, check the machine or water supply for unneeded pressure. If that bubble bursts, you’ll have a flood on your hands
A common cause of drain line damage is tree roots. Weather elements can also damage the drain pipes.
Generally, the expected lifespans for the two most common drain lines are:
Cast Iron Pipes: 80-100 years
Plastic PVC Pipes: 25-40 years
Here’s a list of typical lifespans for different parts of a toilet:
Flappers, levers, flappers, valves, and fittings: 4-5 years
Wax Seals: 20-30 years
Handle: There’s no approximate time, but you should replace it if the toilet won’t completely flush or if water is running on its own.
Traditional water heaters can be replaced every 10-15 years.
Energy-efficient tankless water heaters also known as “on-demand” units, need to be replaced every 20 years or so.
You should begin by looking for a new water heater if you notice the following:
The heater is rusting or leaking
Problems with the pilot light or circuit breaker
The valve is sticking or the thermostat is broken
Indirectly related to pipes, having garbage disposal replacement or repair can also be a factor here. Garbage disposals can last in the neighborhood of 15 years.
So, How Do You Know If Your Water Pipe Has Blown?
Here are some common signs:
Water main lines typically run under the ground and directly into your home.
So, if a leak has developed in the area of your yard, the ground surrounding the leak will become saturated and the water will rise to the surface, creating puddles or very soggy areas.
I recommend looking into it or getting a plumber for an inspection.
Very High-Water Bill
If all of a sudden, your home water bill shoots up even with the usual water usage, the culprit may be a water main leak.
Significant Decrease In Water Pressure
If your Showerheads and faucets typically have a lot less pressure when the water comes out then a leak somewhere may be responsible.
If the water pressure loss is across the board, then it’s likely to be a problem with the main water line to your home.
Has the water become brown, or do you see lead or dirt in it?
These could be signs of rust, lead or soil getting into your water from a break somewhere in the water line.
Water Around Foundation of Your Home (Slab)
Your home pipe can still suffer a leak whether it sits on a slab or not.
Because the pipe is encased, the leaking water may escape to the outside of the foundation, where it will puddle.
How Long Do Water Supply Lines Last?
Water supply hoses should be replaced every 5 years to prevent any potential leaks.
However, replacement every 10 years if fine too.
How Long Do Copper Water Lines Last?
Copper piping water lines last roughly 70-80 years, so if your house was constructed fairly recently, your copper pipes are probably in good shape
How Long Do Braided Water Supply Lines Last?
The general rule of thumb is to replace braided water supply lines every 10 years.
How Often Should Faucet Supply Lines Be Replaced?
Faucet supply lines can be replaced anywhere from 70-80 years.
How Long Do Flexible Water Supply Lines Last?
Flexible water hoses only last around 10 years before needing replacing.
How Long Do Stainless Steel Braided Hoses Last?
Stainless steel braided hoses last a very long time but it can be changed every 5-8 years.
How Long Do Washing Machine Hoses Last?
Washing machine hoses showing signs of wear and tear should be replaced every three to five years.
How Long Do Main Water Lines Last?
Main water lines typically have a lifespan of 20 to 100 years.
How Long Do Toilet Water Supply Lines Last?
Levers, fittings, flappers, and valves should be replaced after 4-5 years. The handle can be replaced after 3 years.
How Long Do Braided Water Lines Last?
Braided water lines can be replaced every 10 years.
How Long Do Pex Water Lines Last?
PEX can last for 30 to 50 years. So, you can replace it after then.
How Long Do Pvc Water Lines Last?
A well-designed PVC water line will last 100 years before needing replacement.