Galvanized Piping in Old Homes (Part Two)

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Replacing the entire supply line of a house can be quite a project, but you'll thank yourself later, since you won't have to do this kind of work for quite a while. If you're trying to restore an old house, it will only be a matter of time before you have problems, especially if you're dealing with galvanized pipes. If you're contending with failing galvanized pipes in an old home, and it's not worth your time to replace sections of bad piping, then replacing the entire pipe structure is your next best option. And you have the choice of using reliable pipes like PVC.

Cost and Labor

Depending on the size of the house and type of pipes you use, replacing the main plumbing can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000. Any house with a 1 to 2 bathroom typically starts on the low range, while larger homes will be more costly. Work can take anywhere from a day to one week. Check with your local county to see if a permit is required for replacing the plumbing.

Why Replace Old Galvanized Pipes?

It is best to not only replace the pipes to avoid costly repairs, but to also maintain the integrity of the water. The mineral build-up in old pipes gives the tap water high levels of iron and zinc, resulting in a metallic-like taste.

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Image from Delta Chemical

The water will also have a higher microbe content, stemming from the deposit accumulation in the pipes.

Removing the Old Pipes

In a fictional scenario, you found the main supply line under an old house, and wish to replace galvanized steel with PVC piping. If the plumbing is located behind the wall, you have the option of simply tearing down the wall and replacing with new dry wall. Since we're talking about an old house, you may have to replace the walls regardless of the plumbing. PVC is one of the more reliable and durable pipes you can use, but before removing the pipes, shut off the water supply by using water T, or you can use another tool like a crescent wrench. For cutting pipes, you can use a number of tools, including tube cutter or hacksaw. Now you're going to locate the main water line that goes into the house. If you find a coupler, you can start at that point as well.

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Image from MSC Direct

The goal is to work your way back from the plumbing fixtures by removing the main line from the supply line. And be aware that there still may be water left in the old pipes. From here, you're going to remove every pipe at the joints. One all the old pipes are cleared from under the house, go back to the main supply line, install an adapter that will convert the system from galvanized to PVC.

Installing the Pipes

Let's say you're going to use inch PVC. Install the cold water pipes by connecting the cleaner end of the pipe to the adapter. When the cleaner dries, apply PVC glue and push into the adapter, and twist it in real good. Clean the ends of the pipes before installing. Do this until all of the cold water lines are attached, and cut the pipes where necessary for proper fit.

For hot water, you're going straight to the water heater. Use the adapter on the pipe from the water heater, and install pipes along the pathway back to the hot water line. Once installed, turn on the main water line and check the meter for any leaks. If you find a leak, turn it back off and release the pressure by opening a cold water valve, located inside the house.

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