pipe repairAlmost anyone that has owned a home for an extended period of time has had the pleasure of discovering a water leak. In most cases, even though they are very unpleasant for the home owner, leaks are relatively easy for an experienced plumber to repair. However, there are exceptions to an easy fix, and both polybutylene and galvanized steel water piping account for a large percentage of these exceptions.

Polybutylene Pipe Replacement:

Polybutylene Piping is a form of plastic water pipe that was commonly used from 1978 until 1995. At the time poly was considered to be the future of water piping. It was much less expensive and required much less labor for installation, than traditional copper pipe, and as a result saved home owners considerable cost. Poly was used in both “overhead” and “underground” installations. Industry experts believe that poly was used in 6 to 10 million homes during this period.

Scientists believe that the problem with polybutylene piping is that oxidants contained in public water systems, such as chlorination, causes it to become brittle. When the pipe becomes brittle, it develops very fine cracks, loses it structural integrity and causes eventual failure.

The biggest problem with poly is that when it fails, it can do it instantly. Even if you have a poly system inspected and the inspector says it is fine, that is probably true for today, but has no guarantee of its condition tomorrow. In addition, once you have an initial leak in poly, the whole system should be considered suspect for failure.

Repairs to polybutylene pipe systems should be made on a temporary, emergency basis only, because once you have a leak, it is only a matter of time before more leaks will occur. The only real solution to correcting ploy defects is to have the home completely re-piped to eliminate the system totally.

Galvanized Steel Pipe Replacement:

Galvanized steel pipe is exactly what it says, it is iron pipe that has a galvanized coating applied to it. Galvanized water piping was commonly used in homes before the advent of plastic water systems.

The problem with galvanized pipe is, even though it is coated, it is still steel pipe with water running through it. Everyone knows what happens to a shovel or steel wrench that is left outside during a rain storm, it rusts. The same thing is going to happen to steel pipe. Eventually the steel pipe is going to deteriorate due to rust, and leaks will occur.

The major problem with trying to repair steel pipe is that once it starts leaking, chances are very great that the entire pipe is deteriorated to the point that it is no longer structurally sound. Steel pipe is threaded, so repairs are made by cutting the damaged area out, rethreading the existing pipe and adding new pipe to replace the length that was removed. If the piping is no longer structurally sound, using pipe wrenches to tighten threads in the repaired area can cause more leaks, requiring further repairs.

There are additional problems you may experience with steel piping that is deteriorating. You may get rusty colored and tasting water coming out of your faucets. You may also notice a decrease in your water flow because of rust buildup inside the pipes. Rust can also break loose in the pipes and clog faucet aerators or even damage valves at various fixtures inside the house.

Again, repairs to galvanized steel pipe can be done, but once you start having problems with the system, additional problems are quite probably just around the corner. In the long run, re-piping the system may be the best solution to your problems.

Water System Re-piping:

Water Re-pipingComplete water re-piping is not cheap, however, it could be considerably less expensive than having a pipe burst and having to replace drywall, flooring such as carpeting or wood flooring, having mold and mildew treatments, replacing damaged contents of the house, and even in extreme cases, structural repairs to the house.

If you are having problems with Polybutylene or galvanized steel pipes, let us help you. We can evaluate your situation; discuss various options with you so you can make an informed decision on your best course of action.