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What is Galvanized Piping, and What can I do about it?

September 20, 2021
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Do you own or live in a house that was built before the 1960’s? If your answer is yes, then there is an excellent chance that your home's plumbing has galvanized plumbing unless there has been an upgrade within the last forty-five to fifty years.

Replacement : When and Why

The lifespan of galvanized pipes are no longer more than fifty years, and since they have not been utilized since the 1960’s, they have already passed their expected lifetime. If you have any galvanized pipes within or outside of your residency, then you need to have them checked and replaced as soon as possible by qualified professionals.

Galvanized steel pipes were covered with Zinc to help keep the product from deteriorating, but with time they start crumbling from within, due to the rust and calcium build-up that begins to form, making the inside width of the pipe smaller. The more the rust and particles collect within the piping, the less room there is for water movement. With the decrease in water flow, it helps to increase the chances of having the piping leak or break from the pressure that can build up behind the water outlets. When you have pressure built up, you can then end up with water damage that can be very costly for the clean-up. If it is anywhere near the foundation it can compromise the foundation.

Other signs that you have problems with galvanized pipes are rust or brown colored running water after the outlets have not been in use for a while, decreased water pressure, rusting on the outside of the pipes or at the joints.

What do galvanized pipes look like?

When first installed, galvanized pipes looks similar to a nickel in color. But as it ages, galvanized pipe may appear much duller, lighter, or darker, depending on its environment. We’ve also seen homes where the water pipes have been painted, so it can be difficult to tell at first glance.

Health Concerns 

Recent studies have shown that galvanized pipe can leach lead into a plumbing system. It comes from the zinc coating on the inside  of the pipes. There is no safe level lead exposure.

Children are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning and can be affected even with low levels of exposure. Studies have found that some children are vulnerable to impaired vision, poor hearing, and headaches. Adults can also be affected by long term exposure. Studies showed that some adults may exhibit high blood pressure, painful muscles and joints, and disruption of the digestive system.

Risk of property damage

Leaks can occur without warning. Small undetected leaks, or large fissures, which can flood a room in minutes. 

Sediments from the rusting pipes, can clog faucets, shower valves, dishwashers, and other plumbing fixtures and appliances. This may result in either costly repairs, or even replacements.

Water can be restricted in areas where the pipes are reduced in size due to rust accumulation .

"Spot fixing" or partial replacement, though it may be necessary for a quick fix, is not recommended as a long term strategy. It is far more costly to replace pipes as needed, than to replace them all at once.If you do find that your home has galvanized pipes, your insurance may not cover any problems that could appear, due to the age of the pipelines. So it is advisable to have your plumbing evaluated before it is too late.

Green Box Mechanical is here to keep you safe and protected in your home

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