Common Plumbing Problems In Old Homes
What is actually considered an “old home”? If you’re lucky to live in a city full of Heritage properties, the first thing that probably comes to mind is a charming Victorian era character home – full of nooks, crannies, quarks, and a grandeur you can’t deny. However, if you ask a plumber the same question, they will likely consider a “old” home to be anything 30 years and above. As we enter 2021 and reflect back on the age of our homes (and ourselves), it’s easy to forget that a home built as recent as the 1980 is now 40 years old. Lets look at the most common plumbing problems in old homes:
1 - Pipe Bellies
- As the ground surrounding old homes shifts and changes, the pipes installed underneath must adjust. When these natural shifts occur, pipes can buckle downwards, creating a “belly-like” formation that can cause water and waste to pool, creating a perfect storm for poor drainage, clogging, and or pipe breakage.
2 - Clogging and Drain Issues
- Decades of sewage and soap scum might take a toll on an old home’s drains, filling and clogging them with gunk. Even with routine maintenance, any experienced plumberwould say it’s nearly impossible to keep an old homes pipes blockage-free forever, even with an impeccable maintenance schedule.
3 - Outdated Pipes
- Galvanized Piping: Galvanized pipes are a steel pipe that has a protective zinc coating (added to prevent corrosion and rust), that was a commonly installed in homes built pre-1960. Like with most metals, decades of exposure to water can cause the protective zinc coating on galvanized pipping to erode, making the galvanized pipes susceptible to rust. Water from rusty, galvanized piping can be hazardous to health and in some cases, even contain lead.
- Lead Piping: Before cast iron piping became common and people became aware of lead and its high toxicity, lead was deemed the perfect material due to its malleability. Although commonly used in homes built before the 1950’s, lead was still used to solder pipes together as recently as 1990, which can also pose health risks to individuals living older homes.
- Polybutylene Piping: Polybutylene piping (or Poly-B) is a flexible grey pipping that has been subject to debates around its reliability when exposed to excessive heat, high water pressure, and stress. The high rate of failure in Polybutylene piping have resulted in many class-action lawsuits and should be replaced promptly if they are still present in an old home.
4 - Tree Root Intrusion
- Older homes may be surrounded by large tree roots that could threaten to break through sewer lines. Sewer lines take away the wastewater from a homes’ drains, and routes it to the sewer main that connects to a local treatment plant. If sewer lines become compromised, it could create a host of gross issues like overflowing drains, or waste coming back up the toilet after flushing.
Like humans, homes are also susceptible to age related perils. If you are looking to invest in a property and are considering an older home, or you already the homeowner of an old home, it’s always (and we mean, always) better to be proactive rather than reactive and have a thorough plumbing done to avoid any emergencies or preventable plumbing disasters!
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