Galvanized pipe corroded and rusty

Replacing Galvanized Steel Pipes and Repiping Your Home

Galvanized pipe corroded and rusty

Galvanized pipes were commonly used for residential plumbing, especially in the 1900s-1970s. This type of piping has a specific lifespan, as the piping begins to deteriorate after 40 to 70 years.

Here in the Sacramento area, there are numerous homes that were built in the 20th Century that had galvanized steel plumbing that haven’t yet been replaced with modern plumbing solutions like copper piping or PEX.

The issue with galvanized steel plumbing is that once it begins to degrade, the water quality is affected, and your water pressure can drop dramatically. If you see either of those symptoms, and if the piping in your home looks like it is steel and not copper, you probably have galvanized pipes which are beginning to degrade.

What is Galvanized Plumbing?

Galvanized steel is steel that has zinc bonded to it to prevent corrosion. In the mid-1900s, galvanized steel pipes were used in residential plumbing as a replacement for lead pipes and cast-iron piping. By 1960, galvanized steel was used for almost all residential plumbing applications. However, by the mid 1980s, many new residential projects had shifted to using copper piping.

Homes built before 1990 may have galvanized pipes, and the older the home, the higher the likelihood it was built using galvanized steel plumbing. Most galvanized pipes last between 40 and 50 years, so if your home is older and has galvanized pipes, the chances you have corrosion is high.

How Can You Tell If You Have Galvanized Pipes?

Galvanized steel pipes have a nickel-gray appearance when they are first installed but change color as they are exposed to water. Some galvanized pipes were painted on the exterior, so it might make it harder to identify at first glance.

If you scratch the outside of a galvanized pipe with a screwdriver, it will turn silvery gray.

How Long Do Galvanized Pipes Last?

Galvanized steel pipes can typically last between 40 and 50 years before degradation sets in, depending on the quality of the original pipes.

Signs Your Galvanized Pipes Need to Be Replaced

There are some tell-tale signs that your galvanized plumbing is ready to be replaced and you need to repipe your home.

  • Water discoloration. Do you have brown stains on your sink? Discolored water? These are signs your galvanized pipes are deteriorating and rust and iron are being released in the water.
  • Decreased water pressure. Corrosion in galvanized pipes causes the metal to clog the inside of the pipes, causing loss of water pressure throughout the home.
  • Uneven water pressure throughout the house. Galvanized pipe deterioration can also cause water pressure to decrease at certain points in the house but not others. This is due to the zinc and iron buildup in the pipes at specific points.
  • Pipe leaks. Once the zinc on the inner pipe corrodes, the steel pipe can begin to rust and after a while, the pipe can leak due to oxidation and rust.
Corroded Galvanized pipe and new galvanized pipe
Corroded Galvanized pipe

Safety Risks with Galvanized Plumbing

Some older homes may have installed lead fixtures sometime in the past. If you’ve had water tests that show any lead, you should replace your pipes immediately.

If there are signs of corrosion in your pipes, or if you’ve had to call for pipe repair due to leaks, it is possible your galvanized pipes are beginning to degrade. These pipes should be replaced before major leaks occur and your home sustains water damage.

Remember that galvanized pipes corrode from the inside of the pipe outward.

Another problem is some home insurance policies will not cover water damage from this type of plumbing. Almost all installations of galvanized pipes have reached their end of life.

If you are asking if the plastic pipes, often referred to by the brand name PEX, is a good choice, my opinion is yes, PEX type piping is a good choice

When Should You Replace Galvanized Steel Pipes?

If you have a home that was built before 1960 and it has the original galvanized piping, or if your home is 50 to 70 years old with the original galvanized piping, it is probably time to replace the piping with durable, long-lasting copper or PEX piping.

How Much Does It Typically Cost to Replace Galvanized Pipes?

The typical cost to repipe your home is about $5,000 to $30,000, for a one-to-three-bedroom house, including finish and paint. This includes materials and labor.

Need a Consultation for Galvanized Pipe Replacement in Sacramento?

Our team replaces old corroded galvanized piping in homes in the Sacramento, Elk Grove, Roseville, and Folsom area. We are a general contractor specializing in repiping and plumbing, replacing old galvanized pipes with reliable copper or PEX plumbing.

For a no-obligation consultation, call us at (916) 304-7629 or contact us through our website. Our repiping specialists will help you assess your residential piping and help you explore your options for replacing your galvanized plumbing.

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