Should You Fix Your Rusty Pipes?


In today's new homes, the plumbing systems are made of non-corrosive plastic materials. However, many homes still have plumbing systems that are made from the original cast iron or galvanized piping installed in the house decades ago. When those old pipes begin to rust, it's time you take notice and begin to act.

Rusting is the process of corrosion between iron and steel. It is a common form of corrosion by which an electrochemical process takes place and in turn causes the disintegration of a particular material. Having rust in your pipes is more than just a cosmetic issue since it can lead to serious structural problems and severe deterioration within the home. Rust usually shows up as a red, brown or orange flaking or pitting of the surface material. Homeowners need to be aware that once rust forms in pipes, its porous surface will trap additional liquids and lead to further corrosion.

Water Pipes:

Galvanized pipes were installed in homes built before the 1960s and over the decades zinc erodes them from the inside out and creates the potential for lead to accumulate inside the pipes. Unfortunately, by the time you may become aware of this, it's too late because the inside of the pipe may be almost completely blocked.

If you have noticed lower water pressure or water quality issues, the chances are your faucets are supplied by galvanized water lines and corrosion is the cause. The most common area for rust to develop on galvanized water pipes is in the thread. This means that the pipe wall has worn through and a replacement water line pipe is required.

Drain Pipes:

Just like galvanized water pipes, rust will first begin in drain pipes in the threads. However, unlike faucet pipes, the water flow through the drain pipe is not constant and a drip or spray will not form when a hole wears through. Again, unfortunately by the time corrosion is noticed, a hole usually already exists and measures must be taken to remedy the problem. A stainless steel clamp will stop the leak, but this is only temporary and an entire pipe should be replaced.

It should be noted that the lead that is released from galvanized plumbing in any given home must be assessed on an individual basis. This is due to the fact that lead released from galvanized plumbing can differ substantially in magnitude and behavior from one location to another. You should have a reputable pluming company, like Taylor's Plumbing come into your home to investigate and asses your home's plumbing history, pipe layout and length of the lead service line that might be impacted.

Cast Iron Pipes:

Cast iron pipes are also susceptible to corrosion and will crack at its weakest point, which is usually on the top or a seam. You may notice small bulges or pitting of rust along a section of pipe which is another sign of corrosion. A sign of pitting may not make the pipe actually leak, but it is an indicator that the pipe walls are becoming thin from corrosion. Sometimes, a small area of rust on the cast iron pipes can sometimes be patched with a stainless steel clamp or even an epoxy material, but this is only a temporary fix. The rusted section of corrosion should be replaced.

What to Do:

Repairs to old galvanized pipe systems usually consist of replacing only individual sections as required considering the major expense of re-piping an entire house all at once. Some products advertise that they will remove lime buildup, rust and coatings plus claim to protect the interior of the pipes; however, even if these claims are proven to be effective, they're only a temporary solution. In the end, for you and your family's safety and peace of mind, rusted galvanized pipes should be replaced.

If you've noticed low pressure or have water quality concerns, speak with the professionals at Taylors Plumbing. Our experienced staff will efficiently fix any plumbing problems you may be experiencing.