Old homes are not only appealing due to the use of superior materials, but they are also affordable. However, the plumbing systems may have several problems, which means paying for repair services frequently. After some time, plumbing components deteriorate, leading to various issues that can affect water quality and pressure. This article explores six plumbing problems you can anticipate in older homes and the possible solutions to help ensure the efficiency of the system.

1. Leaking Pipes

Leaks are a common issue in aging plumbing systems. Pipes can develop cracks and holes, allowing water to leak through. This often happens in hidden areas where it is difficult to detect until damage occurs. Supply pipes outside the house are mostly installed underground to keep them away from direct exposure to the sun and to prevent damage from physical impacts. They can sweat or develop tiny cracks. If the surrounding soil becomes moist, it’s typically a sign that there is a crack. Nearby tree roots can sense water leaking and will burrow toward the pipes, causing more damage that results in severe leaks.

Sudden water temperature and pressure changes can damage pipes as well. Over the years, constant contraction and expansion can weaken the piping material, and it may eventually crack. Leaking pipes can also be caused by damaged joints. The point of connection between two pipes is usually the weakest part of a line because of the smaller surface area. Corrosion can quickly eat away at this weak point and cause leakage.

If you find wet patches or sinkholes in the ground outside the house, there may be a leaking underground pipe. The water meter may also continue running even when no water is flowing from the pipes. If the leak occurs inside the house, under a concrete foundation, you’ll notice wet or sagging carpeting or flooring. When you notice these signs, contact a plumber to address the issue. A plumber will need to replace or repair the plumbing lines.

2. Corroded Pipes

Corrosion occurs when metal reacts with water and other chemicals in the presence of oxygen. This leads to the formation of rust or scale inside the pipes. When pipes have corroded sections, there will be a change in the color of the water. The water may appear yellow, green or brown. The visible pipes beneath the sink or in the basement may also have white, green or red discoloration on the exterior.

Corroded pipes are common in older homes because of the use of the following outdated plumbing materials.

Lead Pipes

Lead was used in older homes as piping material because of its malleability, a property that makes the pipes flexible. Lead pipes can withstand various disturbances without getting damaged. Most cities used them to supply water to homes from the main source. They are also durable and resistant to changes due to weather. However, lead can rust, especially when the water flowing through has low pH and high mineral levels.

The lead leaches into the water and when consumed, leads to poisoning. When children drink toxic water, it negatively affects the nervous system and causes lower IQ, hearing impairment, behavioral problems and learning disabilities. In older people, lead toxicity can result in increased blood pressure, kidney failure and reproductive issues.

Galvanized Steel Pipes

Many older homes have galvanized steel pipes, which were widely used before the 1960s. They have a protective zinc coating to protect the steel from corrosion. While galvanized pipes were once considered durable, they are prone to corrosion and rust. This happens because the zinc coating erodes over time and exposes the steel. As the pipes corrode internally, the buildup of rust and mineral deposits can restrict water flow. This can result in reduced water pressure and potential contamination of the water supply.

3. Failing Drains and Sewer Lines

Older homes are more susceptible to drain clogs because of the accumulation of debris. Hair, soap scum and grease can build up inside the drains in sinks, showers, bathtubs and even the main sewer line. In older homes, sewer lines are often made of clay or cast iron, which can deteriorate after continued use. Shifting foundations and tree roots can compromise the system, leading to their failure. If your drain is clogged, you may notice multiple slow drains or unexplained puddles in the land. Eventually, there may be foul smells in your home as the wastewater backs into your house.

Regular maintenance and avoiding flushing inappropriate items can help prevent clogs. In case of persistent blockages, professional drain cleaning services may be necessary. There are trenchless sewer replacement techniques that can be used to fix failing sewer systems. They require less labor because you don’t have to dig out the pipes, reducing damage to your home and landscape.

4. Outdated Plumbing Fixtures

Homes built before 1980 typically have outdated faucets and fixtures. While they may be an attractive feature for some, they often have problems due to erosion over the years. These plumbing fixtures are inefficient and no longer meet current standards. There may be broken knobs on sinks, tubs and showers. Lime scale can build up in the fixtures and reduce water pressure and quality.

You can upgrade older plumbing fixtures to modern, water-efficient systems, including low-flow toilets, shower heads and faucets. This can help conserve water, reduce utility bills and improve overall functionality. When selecting new fixtures, consider factors such as water flow rates, compatibility with existing plumbing and compliance with local building codes.

5. Pipe Bellies

Earth has natural processes that cause houses to shift and slope. The pipes installed underground or encased in a concrete slab can move downward as the house settles into a new position. This creates a negative slope called pipe bellies that restrict water flow and accumulate waste and sediments. This problem is rare in main water supply lines due to the high pressure, but drains are prone to this issue. Signs of a pipe belly include bad odors, slow drainage and gurgling sounds.

To solve the problem, our professional plumbers will run a sewer camera through the drain to identify the area where there is a pipe belly. They can then repair it by replacing the affected part.

6. Poor Repairs and Installations

Older homes may have accumulated plumbing repairs. If the previous owner was not keen on hiring a professional plumber, the system may have frequent problems. These may be unsecured pipes and poorly installed units.

Old properties are likely to have several issues that may have accumulated over the years. Our professional plumbers at We Care Plumbing, Heating and Air can inspect your plumbing system and repair any issue. Besides our plumbing services, we also have reliable HVAC professionals dedicated to providing heating, cooling and air quality services to all residential and commercial properties throughout Southern California. Our services are available 24/7. Contact We Care Plumbing, Heating and Air today for plumbing and HVAC systems installations, maintenance, repairs or replacement services.

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