We often take the plumbing pipes or water pipe for granted, but they are made of several different types of materials, and doing a simple inspection during your home maintenance review can help you rest easy when you know that your water pipes are safe for your family.
Many homes were built before 1960, and some of the materials have been discovered to be unhealthy and, in some cases, dangerous, and will need to be a priority when considering upgrading. Your plumbing is one of the things you will need to check, especially when purchasing a ‘new to you’ home.
Types of Pipes
The two most common types of household water pipe are copper and galvanized. Many homes built decades ago were plumbed with galvanized pipe, however, today we use copper pipes for their durability, longevity and safety. Let’s review the two main types of pipes in your plumbing and the facts surrounding them.
This piping was used in plumbing for decades up to 1960. Prior to this, lead pipes were used, but most, if not all were replaced due to lead in the water and laws requiring replacement. Some homes still have lead pipes that are attached somewhere in the home plumbing system, to galvanized pipe.
Galvanized pipes last for many years, but they tend to become corrosive due to their zinc coating, or change the color and taste of your water. They can also plug from corrosion and lead to low water flow. Once rusted they can easily burst if you live in colder areas that are prone to freezing temperatures. The zinc coatings also contained lead, which can contaminate the water as the zinc coating breaks down and floats into your plumbing system. This can clog your water heater piping and corrode your electric water heating elements as well.
Test pipe safety
Test your pipe by taking a flathead screwdriver and scratch the surface if it is painted. Does it have a gray nickel color? Try checking to see if a magnet will stick to it. If it does, it is galvanized metal piping. A magnet will not stick to copper pipe.
You should have old galvanized plumbing pipes replaced with copper pipes for safety reasons. The risk to your home investment from leaks and water damage can be costly. If your water heater has buildup inside from the corroded piping preventing enough hot water or no hot water to your faucets, or your water heater is over 10 years old, we recommend a water heater replacement.
Copper plumbing pipes have been standard since the 1960s. They are chosen by homeowners because they last a long time and are very durable. They are slightly more costly than other piping, but the best choice for residential and commercial water heater and other household plumbing. They resist corrosion and don’t break down as easily from hard water use. Copper resists and inhibits bacteria growth, which is important for piping used for household water needs. Copper piping is flexible when regular hot water temperatures are applied. This type of plumbing pipe can be fitted into tight spaces around a water heater and other small household areas that need a steady water supply.
Copper piping is a better choice when it comes to your home improvement project. It does not contain lead and its longevity is well known. Copper piping for your water heater and other water lines in your home can be a wise investment to keep the value of your home competitive in the local real estate market.
Home Improvement & Water Pipe Maintenance
If you own an older home, consider changing your pipes to copper when doing a home improvement. In order to protect your water heater investment for years to come and to improve the longevity of your water heater, it is a good choice to change any galvanized pipe to copper when installing a new water heater or when having a water heater repair.
About Author: Yana Carpenter is Director of Sales and Marketing for Water Heaters Only, Inc., a professional water heater repair & replacement company in business for 50+ years. For 17 years, Yana has served WHO in business development, technical support & marketing management. She enjoys sharing her water heater knowledge with property manager clients and homeowners. Water Heaters Only, Inc. believes in commitment to quality products, excellent customer service and a warranty to back the products we install.