Sacramento Repipe Specialist2>
OLD WATER PIPE PROBLEMS
Many, many homes built before the mid 1940s and some as late as 1960 have galvanized steel/iron water supply pipes. Once in a while, We’ll find some brass pipes still in use. On some rare occasions, We’ll find lead supply pipes. It’s more common for lead to be used for drain pipes and underground water services, between the water main and the house. Identifying lead pipe is quite easy. The metal is dark gray and soft. When scratched with a screwdriver, a lighter color gray is revealed. Where the lead pipe connects to other pipes, there’s often a big bulbs of lead at the joints. If you suspect lead supply pipes, have your water tested to be sure it contains less than the 15 ppb EPA action limit.
Galvanized steel pipes are the most common water supply piping systems originally installed in old homes. These are joined with threaded fittings and occasional large union joints. Galvanizing involves applying molten zinc. This creates a corrosion resistant coating on the interior and exterior of the pipes. Generally, this has been found to limit rust for about 45-65 years, although there have been inferior that have failed earlier. Once the protection is gone, the corrosion begins. As steel corrodes, the rust expands, resulting in the interior dimension of the pipes being reduced. This restricts flow to the point that the pipe no longer delivers adequate flow to the fixtures being supplied.
There can also be corrosion on the exterior of the pipes. This typically occurs on pipes in wet or damp locations or in the ground. Many water pipes connecting the house to the main are galvanized steel. External corrosion is often at joints near fittings, where threads are “cut” into the pipe. Rust can also occur where galvanized pipes are directly connected to copper. This corrosion forms where the two dissimilar metals meet, unless specific fittings were used.
Brass water supply pipes are occasionally found to be still in use in some old buildings. They look similar to copper when tarnished from age. They are thicker walled than copper and not bendable. They also are usually joined with threaded fittings, like galvanized pipes. The life expectancy of brass water piping seems to be similar to copper. It can depend on the corrosivity of the water and the quality of the pipe. They can become clogged over time if there is excess lime in the water.