Do you know that historians have extensive information about the plumbing system of Ancient Rome? The Romans were masters of civic engineering, and much of their original plumbing system to carry fresh water into the city and remove it through massive sewer systems still stands today. We even know they used lead pipes as long ago as 200 BC thanks to archaeological digs that turned up large amounts of lead in the soil.
These amazing facts should not deceive you into believing plumbing is as immortal as the Immortal City. The structures of sewers and aqueducts may survive, but pipes have a limited life. Those archaeologists found lead dust, after all, not fully formed lead pipes.
Let’s keep that in mind as we look at the materials that make up the much less ancient plumbing system of your home and when you need to put in new pipes.
The Iron and Steel Age
How old is your house? If it was built before 1970, then it likely was part of the Galvanized Steel Age of piping. Even older may put it in the Cast Iron Age. (Usually pre-World War II. Even clay pipes were sometimes used.) Both iron and steel are durable metals, but they’re also no longer used for plumbing systems because of some limitations. Both are susceptible to corrosion over time, and internal corrosion is what can lead to toxins like lead getting into the water supply. Corrosion also weakens the pipes and makes it more likely for them to break. You may already have hidden leaks around your home if you have 50+ year-old piping. We recommend having leak detection done to discover the condition of the plumbing system. Our plumber can then tell you if it’s best to put in new piping.
The Polybutylene Age
As new types of piping material started to appear in the 1970s and ‘80s, one of the most popular types of plastic pipes was polybutylene. It’s easy to recognize this material from its battleship gray color. Polybutylene was used extensively in the ‘80s—until it was discovered how easily it becomes brittle and breaks. We advise having any polybutylene pipes in your house replaced with other types of plastic.
The Copper and Plastic Age
In history, the Copper Age comes long before the Iron Age. But in household plumbing, it comes later. Copper became the most common type of metal for plumbing systems in the 1970s thanks to its lightweight, lower cost, and corrosion resistance. If you have extremely old copper pipes, you may need partial repiping, but probably not whole-house repiping. Different types of plastic pipes also become common, with newer and better types being developed through the 1980s and ‘90s. The two most common are CPVC and PEX, which are excellent for freshwater systems and offer flexibility not found in metal pipes.
If you aren’t sure about the condition of your home’s pipes, call on an expert plumber in Glendale, AZ .
This post first appeared on https://www.thetrustedplumber.com