3 Common Plumbing Problems Found In Older Homes

Old houses are often attractive to buyers because they lack the cookie-cutter look many of today’s homes have and the older homes tend to have a littl...
Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Old houses are often attractive to buyers because they lack the cookie-cutter look many of today’s homes have and the older homes tend to have a little more character. But with that character comes a special set of problems that owners of modern homes don’t have to face.

Plumbing in older homes can be a mixed bag. Depending on the upkeep by the previous owners and any upgrades made, the plumbing system might be very modern or still stuck in the 1970s (or earlier!).

The following are problems older homes tend to have in their plumbing systems.

Top 3 Problems with Older Plumbing

1. Old pipe material.

Throughout the decades, the pipes used in plumbing have changed drastically. Up until the early 1970s, galvanized steel pipes were used. While galvanized steel pipes were strong, they began to corrode over time. Further, rust built up in these pipes, restricting the flow of water. Most galvanized steel pipes had a lifespan of about 40 years.

From the late 1970s to 1995, polybutylene pipes became the standard. Polybutylene was manufactured from a plastic resin and became popular because of its low pricing. But the polybutylene pipes had a fatal flaw; they tended to rupture, causing massive water damage. The problem became so bad that a class action lawsuit was filed against the manufacturer. Polybutylene is no longer authorized in the plumbing code.

2. Repairs made by previous homeowners.

The idea of doing-it-yourself is always attractive because it can save a homeowner a lot of money. There’s also the pride that comes with putting your own blood, sweat and tears into a home repair project.

The problem is that many homeowners tend to do a bad job when it comes to plumbing work. They improperly install fixtures and pipes, use the wrong materials and take shortcuts to get the job done faster. The problem is compounded in older homes that had many owners throughout its life.

Not all homeowners make bad repairs, though. Some can do work on par with a licensed plumber. But, generally speaking, it’s best to leave installations and repairs to the professionals.

3. Sewer line.

The line that runs from the house to the municipal sewer line belongs to the homeowner and is the responsibility of the homeowner to maintain.

Over time, these sewer lines can become damaged due to a variety of environmental factors. Tree roots are always a big concern because they can spread far from the tree, wrap around the line and actually crush it. Further, some of those lines were made from clay, which is especially prone to tree root damage. Plastic pipes are more durable but can still succumb to aggressive tree roots.

The only way to know for sure if your sewer line is damaged is to have it inspected by a plumber using a sewer camera. This will give the plumber a real-time view of the condition of your line. Most plumbers charge around $250 for this service.

Not All Old Houses Have Plumbing Problems

If you live in or are considering buying, an older home, it’s a smart idea to have a licensed plumber inspect your plumbing system. Professional plumbers are trained to find small problems that might be overlooked by the homeowner. Additionally, the plumber will be able to fix any problems found and help bring your home up to code.

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