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What is the average lifespan of plumbing pipes?

Homeowners who are over the age of 60 usually start asking questions about their plumbing pipes, and for good reason. Several signs can indicate that plumbing pipes need to be replaced, such as sporadic leaks, pipe discoloration, staining, or corrosion. Annual inspections of exposed plumbing pipes in utility rooms, foundations, or crawl spaces are strongly recommended for homes over 50 or 60 years old.

Regular inspections can predict future plumbing repair needs and prevent future plumbing issues or problems. It can also detect how soon a home’s plumbing will need to be replaced. Read on to learn more about the types of plumbing pipes and their average lifespan so you can better protect your investment when the time comes.

Types of plumbing pipes

There are a few common types of pipe material used for indoor residential water supply plumbing. These include galvanized steel, copper, brass, cast iron, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Some homes that are very old, or homes that were built in the 1970s, can retain two other types of plumbing material that are very problematic and should be removed immediately: lead and polybutylene pipes. Lead is a serious health hazard and can be ingested through drinking water, and polybutylene pipes are highly vulnerable to breakage and highly unreliable.

Aside from these two hazardous material pipes, galvanized steel is the most problematic water supply pipe in homes. They are made of steel and coated with zinc, and are commonly found in homes built before 1970. They corrode easily and accumulate buildup of mineral deposits that reduce water flow, rust stains, and more. Any home with galvanized steel water supply pipes needs plumbing pipe replacement services right away!

Cast iron pipes are another common pipe material. It is quite vulnerable to rust no matter what the water conditions are, but its thickness can slow down the rate at which rust affects water flow and corrosion. Cast iron pipes are mainly used for drainage pipes.

Copper pipes are popular due to their natural corrosion resistant capabilities. Although not completely immune to corrosion, copper corrodes at a much slower rate than other piping materials. Brass is a material made from a combination of copper and zinc, and retains characteristics similar to copper. Red brass pipe is the most durable brass plumbing pipe, made primarily of copper. Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, pipes are made of plastic and have glued-on fittings. They are used for indoor water supplies because they are vulnerable to ultraviolet light.

Average service life of plumbing pipes:

  • Galvanized Steel: 20-40 Years

  • Cast iron: 40-80 years

  • Brass: 40-80 Years

  • Copper: 50-80 Years

  • RRP: 50-80 Years

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