Galvanized Pipes: Issues and Replacement Options

If you live in a home that’s 40 years or older, chances are your plumbing system is made of galvanized steel or iron pipes. Although galvanized pipes are coated inside and out to prevent rust, they rust inside and will corrode over time, causing a build-up that restricts the flow of water, and/or the pipe may leak.

If you have galvanized pipes in your home, here is some information you should consider when thinking of sticking with them or having them replaced.

What are Galvanized Pipes?

Galvanized pipes are steel pipes that have been dipped in molten zinc, which helps to prevent rust build-up and were therefore commonly used for plumbing when building homes before the 1980s. Since these pipes will begin to rust all along the inside over time, they are going to eventually cause plumbing problems.

For example, the amount of water that can run through galvanized pipes will slowly reduce and cause low water pressure. The rust can also cause the water to be unclean and unfit for drinking, definitely making it time to further look into galvanized pipe replacement.

Issues with Galvanized Pipes

In time, it became clear that there were problems with galvanized pipes. After 30 years, these are some issues that pop up:

  • Rust buildup – Galvanized pipes often become teemed with corrosion and rust over time. Galvanization doesn’t stop rust, it just creates a new layer on the pipe that is exposed to rust first. As years and decades go by, the protective zinc layer eventually becomes completely corroded. 
  • Potential health risks –  The zinc in galvanized pipes often contains lead or other metals. Tests have shown that galvanized pipes can have up to 10 times the amount of lead deemed hazardous by the EPA. Once corrosion sets in, the contaminants can work their way into your drinking water. 
  • Low pressure and leaks –  Many homes with galvanized pipes eventually suffer problems with water pressure and even leaks or pipe bursts. Pipe leaks often occur behind walls where the buildup of water and moisture can go unnoticed for long periods of time. This could lead to toxic mold, structural damage, and expensive repairs. 
  • Rust-colored water –  When the interior of galvanized pipes have been corroded enough, iron can get into the water and give it a rusty brown color.  

Galvanized Pipe Replacement Options

When galvanized pipes start causing plumbing problems, the house is going to need repiping to make sure that all of the rust and lead in the house’s piping system is completely removed. A professional plumber is able to provide a proper evaluation of the current status of a home’s galvanized pipe system and can, therefore, provide homeowners with options for new house repiping.

Here are some of the more popular options when galvanized pipes are in need of replacement: 

  • Copper – Copper is a common pipe replacement choice since it is lightweight, strong, durable and resistant to corrosion.
  • Flexible Plastic Hose (PEX) – PEX is another common pipe replacement choice as it is one of the newest advances when it comes to plastic piping.
  • Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride (CPVC) – CPVC is a popular plastic pipe replacement choice since it offers great heat resistance.

If you are experiencing issues with the galvanized pipes in your home, you should consult a professional plumbing service immediately. Our professional, residential plumbers are highly-trained, licensed, and experienced technicians. At Prodigy Plumbing, we offer emergency plumbing services, and we provide full-service plumbing and repair of all sewer and drain cleaning issues. Whether you’re in need of an emergency plumber or preventative maintenance, we are here for you. Give us a call today for a free estimate: 562.413.1928.