Copper Pipe

When Should You Consider Repiping Your Home?

Why repipe? The pipes in your home have a life expectancy. Each type of piping material is manufactured differently, and some last longer than others. Repiping is the process of replacing the pipes in your home so there will not be unexpected pipe failure, resulting in water damage, mold, or mildew.

If you notice a leak in your pipes, it’s possible it can be fixed by replacing that section of pipe. However, if you notice any of the warning signs in the list below, it may be time to repipe your house.

Repiping is a straightforward process, that does not require you to alter your daily routine. A licensed contractor can work efficiently to repipe your home and ensure there will be no structural damage due to unforeseen pipe failure.

This page describes what to look for, and the process of repiping a home.

Seven Reasons to Repipe Your Home

Here are seven reasons you would want to repipe your home. If you notice any of these symptoms, call a licensed repipe contractor.

1. You Live in an Older Home

When was your home built? If your home was built in the 1970s, that means your pipes are about fifty years old. Homes built in this era typically used galvanized steel for piping. This type of piping is prone to erosion and can burst if they are 50+ years old.

Note: If you have lead piping in your home, replace and repipe your home immediately. Lead is a known carcinogen, and can cause extremely serious health issues.

2. You Have Low Water Pressure

Galvanized piping is also prone to have low water pressure, as buildup forms on the inside of the pipe. This causes poor water pressure and other issues.

If your piping has restricted water flow this can also cause the shower to go hot when someone flushes the toilet or runs the water in another room. Because the internal buildup in the piping causes the water flow to be cut off, when someone flushes a toilet, it pulls the cold water from the shower. This is because your plumbing system is designed to service all the rooms in your home simultaneously. Low water pressure is a cause of scalding water when someone runs the water in another room!

3. You See Slab or Pinhole Leaks

When water leaks from the piping below your foundation, that is known as a slab leak. If the piping is leaking above the foundation, that is called a pinhole leak.

If you see multiple pinhole or slab leaks, it is probably time to repipe your home. Many homes in California and the Southwest US were built in a way that they may be susceptible to pinhole and slab leaks.

These can cause tremendous damage to your home through flooding, mildew or mold, if not fixed.

4. Discolored or Contaminated Water

If you turn on the faucet and see discolored water with a rusty, yellowish, or brown tint, that means your home’s piping is filled with rust or sediment. If this only happens when running the hot water, it may be a corroded hot water heater and not the piping. However, if you notice discolored or funny tasting water when running hot or cold water, it is most likely a case of corroded pipes.

5. Your Home Has Kitec Piping

Kitec is a polymer pipe that was typically installed in homes between 1995 and 2007. The issue with Kitec pipes is they are known to spontaneously burst, particularly on the hot water pipes. When Kitec pipes burst, it can cause extensive water damage to your home, including mold and mildew.

From the mid-1990s to 2007, Kitec was thought to be a cheaper alternative to copper piping. Recalls on Kitec piping began in 2005, about ten years after it became popular as a piping option. This implies that Kitec pipes may only last about ten years. Homes that have Kitec plumbing will likely experience increasingly more pipe failure as time goes on.

Why Does Kitec Piping Burst?

Kitec is a polymer pipe wrapped in aluminum, with a layer of plastic piping inside and out. The brass fittings that connect the Kitec pipes contain large amounts of zinc. When exposed to oxygen and moisture, the zinc dissolves out of the brass alloy in a process known as dezincification. Zinc has a weaker atomic bond compared to other metals, and alloys that contain too much zinc are prone become mechanically weak. Additionally, zinc oxide builds up in the piping, causes blockages that cause spontaneous bursts.
The structural problems with Kitec are not limited to the fittings, as the pipes themselves can only handle a maximum temperature of 180 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the hot water tanks in your home can go beyond 180 °F, which results in the Kitec pipes rupturing, particularly on the hot water pipes.

The manufacturer of Kitec settled a class action lawsuit in the United States and Canada for 125 million dollars. The pipes were also recalled beginning in the mid 2000s.

How do You Know if You Have Kitec Pipes?

You can identify Kitec piping by it’s distinct orange and blue piping with brass fittings.

It may also have these brand names on the piping:

  • AmbioComfort
  • AQUA
  • IPEX
  • KERR Controls
  • Plomberie Amelioree
  • PlumbBetter
  • WarmRite
  • XPA

6. You Have Polybutylene Piping

Polybutylene is a plastic resin that was installed in 6 to 10 million homes from 1978 to 1995. In the 1980s, several lawsuits were filed against the manufacturers of polybutylene in the amount of $950 million dollars.

These pipes are usually gray or white with a dull finish. Mostly, polybutylene was installed for underground water mains and interior plumbing.

Scientific evidence has not found a definitive reason why these pipes are prone to failure. However, it is commonly believed that oxidants in public water supplies, such as chlorine, interact with the piping and acetyl fittings in such a way that they flake and become brittle. The structural integrity of the polybutylene piping is then thought to become weak and unstable, resulting in pipe failure and water damage to the home.

Mostly, this type of piping was used in construction in the Southwest US, Pacific Northwest, and Mid-Atlantic. If you think you may have polybutylene piping, look at this site for visual examples of piping and fittings.

7. Your Copper Piping is Aging

This might be surprising to learn, but not all copper piping is made exactly the same. Copper piping has a life span, and if you notice bluish-green oxidation forming on the pipes, you should inspect your pipes to see what type of copper they are made from.

In California, there are a few different types of copper piping that were used in construction over the last fifty years. You should be able to see what type of copper pipes you have by looking for inscriptions on the piping. “M” type copper has red lines stamped on the outside of the pipe and lasts about 15 years. “L” type copper has blue stamped lines and lasts about 25 years. “K” type copper has green lines stamped on them and lasts 50 years.
By researching when your home was built and researching any repairs that were done to the piping, you can calculate where your copper piping is in its life expectancy.

How Long Does It Take to Repipe a House?

In most cases, the entire repiping process takes between a few days and a week to complete.

How Does the Repiping Process Work?

In most cases, the contractor removes small sections of drywall to access the pipes, then replaces them with a stable piping system. Great care is taken to cover and protect the rooms to prevent building materials and dust from damaging furniture, carpet, flooring, and belongings.

Once all the pipes have been replaced, the contractor will test to make sure the water is flowing as expected through the new pipes.

Repiping Services in the Sacramento Area

If your home has some of the tell-tale signs that it needs to be repiped, you can call Wise Money Repipe & Construction in the greater Sacramento area at (916) 304-7629 or fill out our contact form. Speak to one of our experts and we can give you an estimate on price and timeline for repiping your home.

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