It might be a leaky kitchen faucet or a toilet that won’t flush. The fact is, problems with plumbing are quite common, but most people don’t
Pipes are hearty. If managed well, they should last you a long time and not pose a frequent risk to your home and finances. The more you know about your pipes and pipe maintenance, the longer your plumbing will last and the less you’ll spend on visits from your Calgary plumber. But pipes never last forever, so if you follow these tips, you can get the most out of your pipes’ lifespan and get the plumber to replace them before they cause serious damage to your home.
First, know what your pipes are made of. You can find this out by reading your home inspection reports, which you should have received when you bought your house, or by calling a plumber to assess your piping. Supply pipes are under constant pressure but are built with durable materials: brass pipes last 70-100 years, copper pipes last 50 years or more, and galvanized steel pipes last 50-75 years. However, galvanized steel went out of popular use in the 1960s, so if your old home has galvanized steel pipes, you should get them checked and possibly replaced soon.
There is no point in replacing functional pipes, since well-maintained plumbing can easily exceed its life expectancy, but many problems are impossible to detect with an untrained eye and should be evaluated by a professional plumber before growing into serious problems. Drain lines use different materials: cast iron pipes last 75-100 years, and polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, lasts well over 100 years.
Some materials are dangerous and outdated and should be replaced immediately, such as polybutylene pipes—used from the 1970s to 90s and very prone to breakage—and lead pipes—used in the early 1900s and poisons the water supply. Find out what your pipes are made of and act accordingly.
Then, regardless of pipe material, these tips will help you get the most out of all your plumbing. The two biggest stressors on pipes—water pressure and hardness—are both easy to gauge and solve. Check your water pressure; the easiest way to do this is by buying and attaching a hose bib gauge to your outside faucet. Water pressure should be kept between 40-60 pounds per square inch (psi), so whether your pressure is too high or too low, you can change it with your home’s pressure reducing valve. Loosen its lock nut, then turn the adjusting screw clockwise to increase pressure, counterclockwise to decrease.
Also, install and maintain a water softener. Hard water has more minerals than it should, anything over 140 parts per million of magnesium or calcium. There are several types of water softeners, like sodium-based and salt-exchange softeners, but electromagnetic softeners are growing ever more inexpensive and popular.
Reducing both pressure and hardness will increase your pipes’ longevity, but still watch out for telltale signs of pipe damage: leaking, dimpling, discoloration, flaking, pimples, stains, and water damage. Fix problems early before they get worse. Also, insulating pipes and conserving water help your pipes significantly.
Our expert plumbers at Mr. Mike’s Plumbing Company are your source for Calgary drain cleaning, faucet repair, and plumbing fixtures. If you need a leaky pipe fixed, a rattling pipe repaired, or just a professional opinion on your house pipes, no one does it better than Mr. Mike’s .
Tell us your pipe horror stories or any success you’ve had caring for your plumbing.