If you have an old house, re-piping can save a lot of time and money in the long run. Rusted, worn out pipes can develop small leaks or fail entirely and cause a catastrophic flood. All the water in your home moves through hot and cold water pipes to your plumbing fixtures. If one part is damaged, the entire system can fail, but re-piping a house can breathe new life into your home.
Now, we will provide an overview of what goes into such a project.
6 Steps to Re-Piping a House
1. Determining Your Piping Needs
First, you should know whether your old pipes really need to be replaced. These are some signs it’s time to re-pipe your house:
- Frequent Repairs: If you often need a plumber to repair blockages, leaks, and other pipe problems, you’re probably better off with a brand-new system.
- Lead Pipes: Were installed during the 1920s and earlier; since lead poses serious risks to your health, lead pipes should be replaced ASAP.
- Galvanized Steel Pipes: Galvanized steel has a tendency to corrode over time, restricting water flow and trapping sediment in drinking water.
Remodeling your home is a good opportunity to consider re-piping, especially if it involves plumbing work. Re-piping a house involves replacing cold and hot water supply lines and drainage pipes; it’s a big job that can have significant rewards. For example, it can resolve low water pressure, fluctuating water temperatures, subpar water quality (rusty or dirty looking water), and slab leaks.
2. Home Preparation
At this stage, you must find a plumbing company to work with. Get free estimates from a few contractors. A professional plumber will inspect your home and recommend whether to perform repairs, re-pipe a section of plumbing, or overhaul your entire plumbing system. A complete re-piping job may require a work permit, which your plumber will acquire from a local government agency.
Beyond that, there’s little you need to do. If furniture or belongings are in the way of work areas, you’ll want to move them. Otherwise, the plumber can cover items in plastic to protect them during construction. They will shut off water service, but often be able to restore it during the evening.
Demolition is minimized with tools that help locate pipes. Holes are cut in drywall only where necessary. Don’t worry—the technician will patch up the drywall and repaint the wall when they’re done. The project can take two days to a week, depending on the size of your home and scope of the work.
3. Selecting Materials
Several pipe materials are available, which is important if cost is a concern. You have the options of:
- Copper Pipes: Although the most expensive, copper pipes can add resale value to your home and are extremely durable and long lasting, whether used indoors or outdoors.
- PVC/CPVC Pipes: Flexible and lightweight, PVC pipe is corrosion-resistant and does not require welding. CPVC is a cheaper material, but can be more difficult to place, is inflexible, and potentially noisy.
- PEX Pipes: Are extremely affordable, and you can save more during installation by leaving unused steel pipes in place. PEX pipes are available in long, flexible sections and can be connected to existing pipes with special fittings.
4. Basic Steps to the Process
Once the main water valve in your house is shut off, the re-piping process is as follows:
- All faucets are run to drain the remaining water from pipes.
- Materials, tools, and protective items (plastic sheets, rubber gloves, etc.) are gathered.
- Old galvanized pipes are cut and removed; the plumber will look for the easiest places to remove large sections of pipe.
- New piping is prepared and cut to fit. Adapters are attached and the pipe is placed, while the plumber makes sure the pipe is tight and secure.
- When using PEX pipes, they can be fit into a pipe adapter without the need for clamps or screws.
In some cases, you may be able to have a portion of old pipe replaced. You can start with hot water pipes because they’re more prone to residue buildup. This can save money up front. But working with very old, brittle pipes risks damage and higher costs. Some homeowners choose to save by replacing old pipe with copper, but this can cause copper, iron, and zinc to react with water minerals, accelerating corrosion and wear. You’ll only need more replacement work later.
5. Further Update Your Plumbing System
Re-piping a house is such an extensive job, it may be worth considering other improvements. A tankless water heater is one. It provides hot water on demand while taking up less space. Energy is saved as the unit doesn’t have to heat and re-heat up to 50 gallons of water. Other options include low-flow fixtures and smart devices that detect pressure losses and signs of a leak (and subsequently shut the water off automatically).
6. Hiring the Right Plumber
When hiring a plumber, you want someone who is honest, thorough, and accurate. Make sure they’re fully licensed and insured, have references and online reviews, and many years of experience. They should provide a full inspection and estimate that includes material and labor costs as well as all other associated expenses. Also, ask if their work is guaranteed and comes with a warranty if this information isn’t provided.
Contact Sky Heating and Air Conditioning
Our skilled plumbers can take on any residential project. Licensed, bonded, and insured, they provide customized solutions for each client. Replacing pipes can have many benefits. We often use PEX pipes that are easier to install and durable; they can be combined with copper pipes as well. Our team is available 24/7 to help in emergencies and will evaluate your home for free to determine the next best steps. To learn more about our piping and re-piping services and schedule an inspection, call 503-694-4665 today.