Did you just buy a new home or build your own house? If so, you don’t have to worry about your plumbing. But most people live in homes built before 2000. If your home is older than two or three decades, there is a high probability your plumbing is outdated.
Is it Necessary to Replace Cast Iron Plumbing?
The danger is even greater for houses built before 1970 since chances are you have cast iron pipes. The age of the pipes and type of material used will affect when and if you will have plumbing issues. Cast iron was a popular choice for water and sewage pipes in the 20th century for a number of reasons:
- Plastic piping hadn’t been invented yet
- Cast iron pipes have a long life and were built to last for anywhere between 80-100 years
- Cast iron plumbing is durable and can withstand heavy loads/high-pressure
- The material deadens the sound of flowing water and sewage very well
In spite of their durability, it might be time for you to the replace cast iron pipes in your home. Why is that?
The original cast iron plumbing inside houses built in the 1930s and 1940s are reaching the end of their lifespan. Extreme weather changes, type of soil, and water quality will also affect plumbing longevity. If you have mature trees in the yard, their root systems may grow extensively underground. At times, they can spread into the plumbing system and damage the pipes.
It’s not always easy to know if your pipes are damaged because most of them are hidden behind walls or in crawl spaces like the basement. Unless you’ve recently renovated the kitchen or bathroom, odds are you haven’t checked on those pipes in a while. However, there are a few visible plumping signs that are a dead giveaway.
Here are the top 10 plumbing signs that you need to watch out for (especially if you have cast iron plumbing):
Do you occasionally find brown or yellow colored water coming out of your taps? Unless you live in a rural area or use water from a well, discolored water is a sign of damaged pipes. Discoloration in the water is a result of corrosion or rust and cast iron pipes are especially vulnerable. Discolored water is the most visible sign that you need to replace cast iron pipes.
Frequent leaks are another plumbing sign you should watch out for. It could be happening because of cracks in the pipes or damage caused by sulfuric acid. If the leaks persist even after repeated cleaning, you should have a plumber check them out.
Backups or Slow Draining
If you often experience slow draining when you flush the toilet or run water down the sink, it could be a sign that the cast iron sewer pipes are damaged. Unfortunately, cleaning products for unblocking pipes also contain sulfuric acid which is very damaging to iron pipes.
A sewer system in good condition should be airtight with the exception of a few vent stacks. Cracked pipes could cause sewer gas to escape which is certainly not healthy for you. If you can smell sewer gas anywhere in your home, it’s time to call the plumber.
Mold is another visible sign of damage. Some types of mold can start growing with as little as 55% humidity. A cracked pipe that leaks water behind your walls can easily cause the right conditions for mold growth.
Visibly Healthy Lawn
For humans, coming into contact with sewage is unhealthy. But it acts as a natural fertilizer for vegetation. If you notice your lawn is looking better even when you haven’t done anything, it could be a sign of leaking sewage. If you see patches here and there, that could be where the pipes have developed leaks.
Indentations or Sagging
If a water or sewage line is cracked and leaks water, it can pool underneath your garden or pavement. Over the long-term, it can dissipate the soil and cause parts of the ground to sag. This type of indentation may be hard to spot but is a clear sign that your plumbing is not in the best condition.
Cracks in the foundation or along the walls are an extreme symptom of damaged pipes. This often happens because the main line has a leak that was undetected. If you don’t replace the plumbing and repair the damage, it can cause sinkholes to appear!
If you suddenly find puddles of water or sewage waste anywhere in the yard, it is a quite obvious sign that your plumbing is damaged. 9 times out of 10 the leak will be located directly underneath.
Rodent or insect infestations are an indirect clue to damaged plumbing. Rats, cockroaches, sewer flies and other insects can get into your house through very narrow cracks in the pipes. Cockroaches can squeeze into pipes through gaps as small as the width of a quarter! Rats don’t need much bigger openings either. Calling a pest-control agency will solve the problem albeit temporarily. The pests will keep coming back since you haven’t solved the source of the problem i.e. cracks in the pipes.
Regardless of the age of your house or the plumbing, you should periodically inspect the pipes. Any cracks, pools of water underneath a pipe, rust spots, and dimples are all plumbing signs you should watch out for.
Sometimes it takes more than a visual inspection to spot damage. If it has been a while since the last time you called a plumber, you can ask them to come over for an inspection. A comprehensive sewer video inspection will help you determine if the pipes need replacing.
Have you seen any of these plumbing signs in your home? Don’t delay calling us! Replace cast iron pipes now and prevent major repairs down the line. The cost of replacement will certainly be less than repairing the potential damage in future!