Repiping is the process of removing all the incoming water lines in a building and replacing them with new pipes, junctions, and valves. This rarely includes replacing sewage and drain lines in a property, but that service can often be scheduled and performed at the same time as repiping, to save some cost, time and inconvenience. This process usually takes about 3-5 days, depending on the size of the building.
There’s a bit of confusion when it comes to the subject of whole house re-pipe jobs in the plumbing industry. By virtue of its name, most people assume that a whole house re-pipe replaces every pipe in your “whole house.” In the real world, a “whole house re-pipe” only refers to the water supply lines in your home that run from the house side of your water meter, into your home, and out to all your plumbing appliances. Read more about whole-house repiping here.
Signs That You May Need Re-piping
The purpose of repiping is to replace supply lines that are excessively damaged or worn. One key indicator in the need for repiping is simply age. If a property is over 50 years old and has original piping, it’s time to investigate and consider repiping. If it is over this age, annual inspections of the exposed piping are a good idea. Checking for small leaks, stains, flaking, or discoloration is important, as these are all signs of corrosion, which may precede widespread leaks. More significant leaks are another sign that it may be time to consider repiping. Even leaks that are smaller and are easily repaired may be a sign of more problems, as usually all the piping in a house is the same age and has endured the same conditions. If it’s failing in one spot, more failures may be more forthcoming. Additionally, frequent leaks are a sign that repiping needs to be an urgent priority. Even if they are small, these point towards systemic failure that could be catastrophic.
Another important indicator is water quality, particularly smell and coloration. Any abrupt changes in water quality should be investigated to determine their source. Whether this is due to a neighborhood or city-wide water situation or something within the building, a sudden change indicates a problem. More gradual changes, though, can be just as important. Water that has a brown, yellow or orange tint to it likely has rust in it, and that rust is likely to be coming from corroding steel piping in the building. Water that has a metallic or rusty odor or taste to it is also likely to indicate corroded steel piping in the building.
Finally, low pressure can also be a sign of a need for repiping. Over time, rust and mineral deposits can restrict the flow of water into and through a building. As this is a slow process, this may indicate the pipes are old and will soon need replaced.
How Repiping is Done
Most plumbers will attempt to leave water supply available via a bypass, at least overnight, so that the family can stay in their home while the job is completed. The process itself starts with protecting floors and furniture from damage, then locating the pipes via small holes into the walls. The intent is to remove only enough material to carry out the job, but the size of the holes will vary. The pipes are detached and removed from the walls and floors and replaced with new lines, usually copper or PEX. Additional lines can be run during this time, if requested.
After the lines are replaced and tested, the holes are filled in, covered and textured, if necessary. Painting may also be done to further hide the holes. While often necessary, this process can take some time, be inconvenient and cost a significant amount of money.
Repiping is a major process and not something that you’ll want to undertake on your own. If you’re in the need for an estimate for this type of service, contact Nick’s Plumbing and Air Conditioning at 713-868-9907.