If you’re asking this question, you are already ahead of the game compared to many homeowners, who often assume the pipes in their plumbing system will last for as long as their house lasts. Since most plumbing is out of sight, it is often out of mind—and the pipes are made from metal, so nothing will happen to them.
It only takes a bit of consideration to realize this isn’t true. Metal decays and corrodes, and the daily strain on freshwater and wastewater pipes will wear them down. There are also chemicals in the water that can cause damage, as well as hard water minerals. You can expect many years of service from plumbing pipes, but eventually, they must be replaced.
So, how long will the pipes in your plumbing in Kensington, MD last?
The answer to the question differs depending on the pipe material. If you live in a house that was built before 1970 and it has not had any repiping done, it almost certainly has pipes made from cast iron or galvanized steel. These are not used in new plumbing because of their tendency to decay over time and the potential to put harmful residue in freshwater pipes.
Galvanized steel and cast iron have the shortest lifespan, sometimes lasting only 20 years in areas with water with high acidity. In most situations, these pipes can last longer, but it’s rare for them to make it beyond 50 years without starting to corrode and create numerous leaks. That means if you have steel or iron pipes in your house, they’re due now to be replaced because they’re probably already over 50 years old.
Copper is the chief metal that replaced steel and iron, and it can last more than 50 years without much problem. If most of the pipes in your house are copper and the house was built post-1970, you may be in good shape. We still recommend having leak detection done approximately every five years (or sooner if you notice signs of leaks) to see if individual pipes need to be replaced, but a whole-house repiping probably isn’t necessary.
If you have any lead pipes, we recommend replacing them—no matter how long they may last!
Modern plumbing systems usually consist of copper and different types of plastic, primarily CPVC and PEX. These plastics can last for a hundred years, so you’re in good shape with them.
However, there is one type of plastic pipe we recommend replacing because its life expectancy is short: polybutylene. This gray plastic pipe was used from the 1970s until the 1990s, so if your house was constructed in that period, this is something to check for. Polybutylene pipes become brittle with time and break, something that wasn’t known when they were first installed.
You can’t easily check for these pipes yourself, so if you suspect your home has them because of its age, call us as soon as you can. The lifespan of these pipes can be as short as ten years and they are a huge leak risk.
Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing serves Washington D.C., Montgomery & Frederick Counties. Call us to find out more about repiping your house.