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When you’ve lived in a home for a while, you get used to minor plumbing repairs cropping up every now and then. The odd leaky pipe or a busted water heater is hardly a major cause for concern. However, you will have to overhaul the entire plumbing system in your house sooner or later. Here’s a quick look at what is involved in repiping a house, so you can be prepared when that time comes.
When should you repipe your home?
1. When your home is old
If you live in a house that is around 50 years old or more, then the time is right for you to change the pipes in your home, even if you don’t seem to be having any immediate problems with your plumbing. One of the main reasons for this is the type of piping that was used in the last century.
A lot of older homes have pipes made of galvanized steel or polybutylene. While galvanized pipes tend to erode with age and definitely need to be changed, polybutylene pipes tend to leak easily and are less than desirable.
Another common problem that older homes have is lead pipes. Lead is hazardous to our health, and the last thing you want is lead in your water supply. Change those pipes immediately.
If your pipes are making more noise than they should, or what is commonly known as the “water hammer” effect, that is another indication that you need to have your pipes replaced.
2. When your pipes leak
While it is normal for hot water pipes to have condensation on them, it is not normal for your pipes to keep spring leaks. While a patch-up job might hold for a while, remember that it is not a permanent solution.
It is only a matter of time before the rest of the pipes, which are most likely made of the same material and are around the same age as the leaking pipe, start showing similar signs of damage as well.
3. When you have low water pressure
No one likes turning on the shower and having a small trickle of water come out. If your washing machine and dishwasher also seem to be getting less than the ideal supply of water, that means you have low water pressure.
The most common reason for low water pressure is sediment build-up and corrosion of pipes. Sediment build-up causes blockages in your plumbing pipes, while corrosion causes flaking, discoloration, and small indentations on pipes.
Both of these cause irregularities in water pressure at different points in your pipes. Your best bet is repiping your home.
4. When your water smells and tastes bad
If your drinking water starts tasting bad, or if you start noticing a funny smell when you run your taps, it is a definite sign that you need to change the pipes in your home. Smelly water is a sign of decay and unhealthy bacterial build up in your home’s plumbing.
5. When your water gets hot suddenly
If your water turns from hot to cold suddenly, or if it’s just not getting hot at all, you know it’s time to change your water heater.
However, if you turn on the cold water tap and suddenly get scalding hot water, it means your regulating valve has been jammed, and your house needs new plumbing.
What is the process?
Repiping a house can take up to a week, depending on how large your home is and how many repiping installers are working on the project. During this period, you will have to deal with your home’s water supply being affected for a few hours every day. However, most contractors choose to do this while the homeowner is away, so it should not be much of an inconvenience. Remember to get the necessary permits before you begin repiping your home.
Contractors begin by covering your furniture and fittings with sheets to protect them from dust and debris. They will then cut strategic parts of the drywall to take out old pipes and install new ones.
In most cases, copper pipes are used for the main waste and water lines, with various plastic pipes branching off from the main pipes to access smaller places and fixtures.
Once the new pipes are installed, contractors will repair and paint the areas that were damaged to fit the pipes, leaving behind no physical trace of their handiwork.
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How much will it cost you and is it worth It?
Getting your entire house repiped is not going to be cheap. Most home insurance policies do not cover repiping, as it is seen as a preventive measure. The only way you can get your insurance to cover it is if you can prove that damage and corrosion to your pipes happened suddenly and accidentally, as opposed to wear and tear due to age and usage.
This means the tab is on you. Depending on the size of your home, expect to get a bill of anywhere between $4,000 and $15,000 once the job is completed.
This, however, is money well spent. Once a home has new plumbing, it will last you a very long time, at least 50 years or more on average.
New plumbing will also show you a reduction in your water bills as well as improved water pressure.
If you’re planning on selling your home, your new pipes will make sure you get top dollar for your home. On the other hand, homes with faulty plumbing depreciate while being sold.