Part of the responsibility of owning a home is the occasional costs associated with significant plumbing repairs. Most of the plumbing-related repairs and expenses we incur can be considered relatively minor, like repairing a leaky faucet or clearing a clogged drain.
When older plumbing systems start to break down, they do not do it gracefully. Leaking pipes, reduced water pressure, discolored water, even strange smells in our water supply is our home telling us it may be time to consider a whole house re-pipe.
Re-piping your home is an example of this type of financial commitment. A complete home re-pipe sounds like a massive undertaking because it is. It is not a task for a handyman or a “do-it-yourself” type of homeowner; it requires specific knowledge, specialized tools, and a truckload of patience. That’s why it is essential to have the work performed by a licensed, experienced plumbing company like Nick’s Plumbing & Air Conditioning to get the job done right the first time!
What is a Whole House Re-pipe?
When discussing the re-piping of a house, plumbing companies refer to the replacement of all water supply lines only. Whole-house re-piping does not include the replacement of drainpipes or sewer lines. It is important to understand the distinction, as problems with clogged drains, backed-up toilets, or broken sewer lines will not clear up after a re-pipe job.
How Do I Know If I Need to Re-pipe My House?
A complete re-pipe of your house is a daunting endeavor and certainly not something you want to take on unless you must do so. It is a tremendous investment in both time and money. That’s why before you begin, you want to make sure it’s something you need to do. Here are some reasons you might need to re-pipe your house:
Your Home Has Lead Pipes.
Lead pipes are most often found in homes built before the 1930s, so we don’t run into those very often unless we’re in a historic district like Memorial or the Houston Heights. Your ancient lead pipes may still be servicing your home adequately, but the risks involved with having lead pipes have far outweighed their usefulness for decades.
Lead was outlawed for use in any pipe, fitting, fixture, or flux used in plumbing systems delivering drinking water to residential and non-residential buildings in 1986. Since that time, the adverse health effects in children exposed to lead have become public knowledge, and the substance has been almost completely removed from use. If you are unsure about the presence of any lead pipes in your home, your Nick’s Plumbing & Air Conditioning technician can inspect your pipes and let you know for sure. Should your plumbing technician discover any lead pipes or fittings currently in use, it is imperative to have them taken out of service.
Your Home Has Galvanized Steel Pipes.
The potential dangers of using lead for drinking water delivery were recognized by the plumbing industry as far back as the 1940s. Around that time, a method of using steel pipes dipped into a zinc bath coated the pipes in a corrosion-resistant layer of soft metal. These galvanized steel pipes became the standard for new construction until the 1970s when copper became the flavor of the month. Or decade.
Galvanized steel pipes have been known to last 70 – 80 years, with some cities having even older examples in their networks. The drawback to galvanized pipes is that over time, the protective zinc coating eventually chips away from mineral particles in the water. As soon as any of the zinc coating is removed, the exposed steel beneath it begins to rust, eventually causing the pipe to leak and fail.
Your Water Doesn’t Smell or Taste Right.
Drinking water with a foul taste can signify that the metal in your pipes is beginning to break down. Water should taste clean and refreshing, and doesn’t have a natural smell, so the presence of anything remotely moldy, mildewy, or otherwise stale-tasting could be your home telling you it’s time for a whole house re-pipe.
Water is supposed to be clear when flowing out of a faucet or any other plumbing fixture, so the presence of any color in your water is cause for concern. Grayish, cloudy water can result from having hard water in your area, and tiny mineral particles cause cloudiness. Red or brown water indicates exposed metal in your pipes is eroding and leeching rust into your water supply. Rust-colored stains in your sinks, as well as discolored laundry, can also be a reliable sign that it’s time to perform a re-pipe.
You’re Always Paying for Plumbing Repairs.
Regardless of the type of pipes installed in your home, the one fact you can rely on is that someday, they’re going to leak. Since water is a universal solvent, the pipes in your plumbing system are regularly exposed to wear and tear by just doing their job. Galvanized pipes will rust and corrode more frequently in and around pipe bends and fittings, as these areas provide spaces for water to collect and dissolve metal threads. As copper pipes age, they too start to weaken at curves, often with tiny pinhole leaks that eventually become worse over time.
Having a whole-house water supply re-pipe is a great way to keep plumbers out of your home.
So Now I Know I Need a Re-Pipe. What Happens Next?
Once you’ve determined, either on your own or with the help of a licensed plumbing company, that you do need a whole house re-pipe, there are a few steps to process. It might be helpful to familiarize yourself with before selecting a plumbing company.
Nick’s Plumbing & Air Conditioning recommends that every potential customer get a minimum of three estimates from different companies before taking on any major home repair or improvement project. Please do some research on each of the companies you get quotes from; check out their websites and any local social media sites for reviews. Nick’s Plumbing & Air Conditioning is happy to offer free estimates, as well as free second-, third- or fourth opinions.
You’ve Picked Your Plumber, and the Plumbing Begins!
While the effects of a whole-house re-pipe are comfort, convenience, and confidence in the quality of your plumbing, there is nothing about the process to make you believe it while it’s going on. There’s going to be a lot happening, with one part of the crew focused on locating, disabling, and where it’s feasible, removing the existing pipes. The other part of the team will be measuring, cutting lines, swinging hammers, and firing blowtorches.
During the re-piping process, your home’s water service will need to be shut off for extended periods over a few days. We try to limit the number of water interruptions to the entire home, but on challenging jobs, it may be necessary to turn the water off for the project’s entirety.
Licensed plumbers have the tools which allow them to pinpoint the exact locations of pipes behind your walls. Precise holes are cut into your drywall to enable access to your home’s pipes. This isn’t a case where workers come in and cut arbitrary holes throughout your home. These openings allow access to your home’s pipes. After the installation process has been completed, the installers will carefully patch up the drywall and repaint. The idea is to make your home look as if the plumbers were never there.
How Long Will the Entire Re-piping Process Take?
A couple of days to a full week is usually the approximate timeline we at Nick’s Plumbing & Air Conditioning provide our customers. Of course, factors like the home’s size, the piping complexity, and how the number of bathrooms, laundry connections, and other unforeseen circumstances can affect that timeline. Re-piping a home usually involves building the new piping alongside the existing or aging pipes. Usually, the only time you will be without water is when you begin the process of switching from the old lines to the new.
When is the Best Time to Re-pipe My Home?
The best time to consider a complete re-piping is when you have old metal piping such as galvanized steel, lead, or aging copper pipes. As steel pipes age, they are more prone to developing leaks, and lead pipes can contaminate your drinking water. Take advantage of a home remodeling by replacing sections of a damaged pipe if your budget won’t allow a full re-piping.
How Much Will It Cost to Re-pipe My Home?
Of course, the cost to re-pipe an entire home depends on various factors. Certain elements that may affect the length of time required to re-pipe a home can also affect the work price. Re-piping a home can range in price from $1,500-$15,000 — all depending on the home’s size, the number of bathrooms, and the complexity of your home’s plumbing system.
Things to Look for In Your Re-Piping Plumbing Company:
- Strong, positive online presence.
- Multiple reviews over an extended period.
- Good standing with the Better Business Bureau
- Guarantees and warranties for any parts, service, or damage claims that may result from a plumbing company error.
- Provide accurate and thorough estimates, including all components, labor, and incidentals.
Nick’s Plumbing & Air Conditioning – Your Home Re-Piping Expert!
If you’re at a point where you’re considering re-pipe your home, contact more than one reputable licensed plumber before making any final decisions. They will be able to inspect and provide you with an accurate evaluation of what work needs to be done and its cost.
If you live in the Houston area, Nick’s Plumbing & Air Conditioning is among the area’s most trustworthy plumbing and HVAC companies. For the past 40 years, we’ve built a solid reputation as a business that provides reliable customer service and a top-quality product. We look forward to hearing from you.