Common Plumbing Problems in Old Homes & How to Fix Them
From Colonials to Gothic Revivals, old homes provide a sense of vintage charm often unmatched by contemporary and modern houses. These homes are popular throughout the US and offer a warm, old-world residence in which to raise a family or retire.
If you’ve ever dreamed of living in such a home, you’re probably aware of the many advances in modern architecture unavailable during their construction. As a result, it can be frustrating to learn that plumbing problems in old homes are commonplace.
Because newer homes benefit from updated plumbing techniques and new building codes, many plumbing issues are not a problem for contemporary residences. However, when it’s time to purchase that three-bedroom Georgian you’ve been dreaming about or maintain residence in an older place that has kept you comfortable for many years, it’s essential to understand the typical plumbing problems in old homes.
Should you notice any of these issues, take action immediately. Hanover Park’s expert plumbers are here to resolve any plumbing issues your home may face.
Common Plumbing Issues in Old Homes
Many factors cause plumbing problems in old homes. From old building materials to general wear and tear, plumbing systems in older houses most commonly face the following seven issues.
1. Copper Pipes With Lead Solder
If your home dates to a time before lead became illegal or if you haven’t refitted your pipes without this additive, paying attention to your plumbing and water quality is imperative. Many pipes from the last century consist of metals that were more difficult to fuse and join together. Before the US banned lead in 1978, home builders soldered pipes with this potentially toxic substance.
Lead can seep into your home’s water and cause gastrointestinal issues, fatigue, memory loss, irritability, and harm to children and infants. These symptoms might indicate that it’s time to get your pipes checked, refitted, or replaced.
2. Rusted Galvanized Pipes
After lead was banned, galvanized steel became the most popular material for pipes in home plumbing systems. A protective layer of zinc coats galvanized steel. This coating can wear down over time and become highly susceptible to corrosion.
Corroded pipes can cause various issues like rust seeping into water or even pipe cracking, leading to leaks and further problems. If you notice your drinking water changing color or sudden leaks appearing in your home, you might have galvanized steel pipes and should consider updating them.
3. Polybutylene Pipes
Many homes from the 1980s through the 1990s often featured plumbing systems with polybutylene pipes. This type of pipe became the standard after galvanized steel fell out of fashion.
Over time, it became clear that this plastic piping didn’t react well to the oxidants and chemicals used to purify public water lines. As a result, polybutylene pipes started to face many of the same issues that lead and galvanized steel pipes sustained, such as brittleness, flaking, cracking, and premature expiration. If you live in a house from this time that experiences consistent leaks or plumbing issues, your home may require repiping.
4. Worn and Outdated Fixtures
We’ve all experienced minor issues with our home’s faucets and water fixtures, such as clogs, leaks, and even minor flooding. However, the water fixtures in many older homes pose a much greater risk for a minor issue to turn into a massive problem.
Besides plumbing issues resulting from building materials, overly worn and outdated water fixtures can exacerbate plumbing problems in old homes. Over time, limescale builds up within old faucets, causing issues with the consistency of water pressure, water quality, and leakage. If you notice that your utility bills have suddenly increased or unpleasant odors are starting to emanate from your faucets and showerheads, it might be time to upgrade.
5. Improper Installation or Repair
If your plumbing system faces constant problems or you can’t ever quite get your indoor plumbing to work consistently, an improperly installed system might be the source of your issues. In old homes, you may not know who installed your plumbing or their techniques. If an amateur plumber used dated techniques, your problems could be rooted in shoddy installation.
Equally possible is that a repair failed to address the issues at hand or could not correctly identify the source of the problems. Plumbing problems in old homes need to be dealt with by experts who understand the complexities of dealing with homes built in very different circumstances. Always hire plumbers who use the latest techniques and understand the challenges of repairing plumbing systems in decades-old homes.
6. Faulty Sewer Lines and Intruding Roots
Faulty sewer lines and intruding roots often go hand in hand. While you can’t see the sewer lines that bring water into your home, they can often be the source of plumbing problems in old homes. Lines in use for a long time can be liable to clogging or small leaks.
Moisture coming from leaking, dated sewer lines might attract shrubbery and trees with root systems nearby. As a result, these plants might grow around and even in the sewer line, worsening any issues that might be present such as clogging and leakage.
7. Pipe Bellies
The natural processes that cause homes to shift and slope over time can lead to so-called pipe bellies, meaning a negative slope in your water line. Pipe bellies can cause clogs, leaks, and sediment buildup, making your home vulnerable to toxic wastewater accumulation, flooding, and property damage. As a result, if you experience backups and slow drains or notice a sudden green patch in your yard, your pipes might have bellied. It is imperative to deal with bellied pipes right away as they can lead to even more significant issues.
Plumbing Services With Advantage Plumbing & Sewer Co.
For any plumbing problems in old homes, including leak detection and repair services, call Advantage Plumbing & Sewer Co. at (847) 716-2261 today! Our expert plumbers provide quality customer service and equip themselves with the latest techniques to provide high-quality care for your home’s plumbing.