While spending more time at home, you've probably started noticing repairs you need to make. You may have even tackled a few projects to improve your home. However, there are some home improvements you might not consider, because they're hidden until they reach their breaking point - like your home's plumbing system.
You rely on the pipes to bring safe water into your home for cleaning, laundry - and drinking - every day. Unfortunately, you can't usually tell something is wrong until they leak, creating water damage costing thousands of dollars.
The good news is, there are signs that indicate it's time to repipe your home. And when you do it right, that one project can save thousands of dollars and lots of future headaches by preventing leaks, water damage - and unsafe drinking water.
Here's what to look for:
1. Is your home over 50 years old?
If the original pipes weren't replaced, repiping is a good idea - before large-scale water damage occurs. Older homes typically used galvanized pipes prone to corrosion, leaking and bursting.
If your house was built even earlier - around the 1920s - the pipes were probably made of polybutylene and/or lead. These materials are dangerous and should be replaced immediately. Polybutylene is highly prone to breaking and leaking, so it's only a matter of time before a serious problem occurs. And lead seeps into drinking water, which can cause serious health problems for your family.
2. Do you have low water pressure?
When pipes contain rust or mineral buildup, it eventually restricts water flow into the house. By the time it affects your water pressure, it's the result of years of buildup - a clear sign repiping is needed.
3. Have you had leaks?
Bigger problems start small. If you've welded or patched leaks in small sections of pipe, this can indicate your entire system is at risk.
4. Do you see a problem?
Stains, flaking, indentations or rust on the pipes signals corrosion. Corroding pipes may leak and should be replaced. Rusty pipes can also turn water reddish or brown, indicating the need to repipe to make your water healthy to drink.
5. Does your water taste or smell bad?
An unappealing smell or taste may also mean your water is unsafe, because of a breakdown of your pipes. It's best to have them inspected immediately - and drink bottled water in the meantime.
6. Is it making odd noises?
If your plumbing rattles, clanks or bangs, this is a sign of a larger problem. You should have your pipes checked right away.
7. Does it run hot and cold?
If your shower quickly switches from icy cold to burning hot, corroded materials may have broken off inside the pipes and jammed the anti-scald device or valve regulating your water temperature.
If any of these signs sound familiar, take action and get help. Each house is different, requiring a unique repiping solution.
Experts should do a thorough site analysis first, checking your home for signs of leaks, such as moisture, mildew, foundation cracks and a running water meter. They should also conduct a water-usage review. Their inspection and recommendations will allow you to be proactive and prevent problems before they occur.
Once the problem is identified, it's vital to replace pipes with a more durable material. An innovative solution to repiping homes is using Uponor AquaPEX, a flexible polymer piping material that resists corrosion, pitting and scale buildup while also offering greater resiliency in freezing conditions. Flexible crosslinked polyethylene (PEX) pipe lasts longer and also makes repiping less invasive. The pipe can bend around corners and fit into tight spaces without having to cut large holes in drywall.