Many homes that were built from the 1930s through the 1970s are equipped with copper pipes for their plumbing system.
Copper is a material that has been used for centuries to make water and other liquids flow more smoothly due to its superior thermal properties. While copper can last for many decades, there may be some instances where it’s time to replace the old with the new.
It’s important to know when it may be necessary or beneficial to replace these pipes so that you can avoid future problems like leaks and clogs that could lead to costly repairs.
The answer to the question, “Should copper pipes be replaced?” is that it depends on the condition of those copper pipes.
Copper pipes are generally safe for homes, but if you notice signs of wear and tear or corrosion on a copper pipe it may be time to replace the piping. Copper is not ideal in cases where your water has consistently high levels of acidity – when this happens, steel should be used instead.
There are 3 common problems we have seen with copper pipes are:
- Copper pipes are prone to corrosion because they react with oxygen in the air which can lead them to dissolve away eventually causing leaks of corrosive materials back into your home’s plumbing system where you drink from and take baths in every day.
- Copper pipes are more likely to freeze and burst than other materials, so you’re putting your home at risk for major leaks.
- Inevitably, copper pipes will start to get a buildup of deposits inside the pipe that seeps into your water. This decreases the flow of water through the pipes and can lead to potential damage if not addressed quickly enough!
Do Copper Pipes Need To Be Replaced?
Like all piping, you will eventually need to replace your plumbing or at least look into repairing copper pipes.
If you are lucky, your copper pipes may last their entire expected lifespan but sometimes wear and tear happens quicker than expected.
If you begin noticing musty smells that make it hard for the bathroom to even be used in certain spots; if you notice bulges on walls and ceilings caused by water pressure issues from clogged up toilets; if you see green crust growing around fixtures like sinks as well as toilet bowls then this means replacing those copper pipes is going to be required sooner rather than later.
How Long Do Copper Pipes Last In A Home?
The average lifespan of copper pipes is generally 50 to 70 years. Although depending on the conditions it’s exposed to, the lifespan can be reduced to 20 years.
Copper plumbing is effective and functional, but it doesn’t last forever. In fact, copper pipes can deteriorate rapidly after just 20 years of service and may even have an actual lifespan that’s 50 to 70 years.
If your home’s plumbing was installed around 1945 and you have copper plumbing you may want to have an inspection by a professional plumber to asses the status of those pipes. It will cost you much less to fix any issues now than later after a leak occurs.
How Do I Know If My Copper Pipes Are Bad?
Copper pipes an develop pinhole leaks if conditions are acidic or corrosive. This means that the leaks can be slow but steady which makes it difficult to notice that you even have a leak happening.
When your copper pipes start to turn black or greenish brown in color with areas of the pipe becoming soft and bulging out from the wall then that’s a clear sign that your pipes are going bad.
You can also tell if you have old, decaying copper pipes by a musty and moldy smell coming from the bathroom or laundry room.
If you notice these things happening, call an experienced plumber right away before it gets worse.
Generally speaking though, there are some signs to look for that tell you there is a problem with your plumbing system.
- Eerie Spooky Sounds – The sound of the faucet is telling you something. If your pipes are making odd sounds, there’s a chance that they have air in them and need to be cared for by an expert plumber before serious damage occurs!
- Low To No Water Pressure – this is a frustrating issue that can be caused by any number of problems and pipes going bad is one of them.
- Bad Odors From Your Drains – more than a slight unpleasant odor coming from your drains can be an indication that your pipes are going bad. Of course there are several issues that could be causing this such as food stuck in your garbage disposal, a blocked drain vent, etc.) But if your pipes are going bad, this could be one of the symptoms.
- Water Draining Slowly – if the water in your sink or bathtub or shower is draining slowly this could be a sign of a blockage or yet another sign that your pipes are going bad.
- Ceiling / Wall Damage – if you notice stains on your ceiling or your walls, or wallpaper or paint that is peeling in certain spots – this may be a sign that you have a pipe leak somewhere. This could be the result of your pipes going bad and needing repair or replacement.
If you notice any of these issues in your home, contact a plumber immediately. The longer you wait to get these problems fixed, the more it will cost you in the long run.
Should I Replace My Copper Pipes With PVC?
PVC piping is typically the choice that many home builders and plumbers are using these days to replace older pipes in homes and businesses. But it certainly all depends on the conditions of the property.
If your home or business uses public water, then we often recommend replacing polybutylene piping with copper piping. But if your property uses well water, then we recommend CPVC to be installed.
There are some benefits to using PVC pipes:
- PVC pipes have a lifespan of about 50 to 80 years.
- PVC is more resistant to the invasion of tree roots than any other pipe material.
- The best type of underground water pipes are PVC piping because it is resistant to corrosion, has a long lifespan at an economical cost compared with other types of pipes!
Is Green On Copper Pipes Dangerous?
If you notice green color on your copper pipes, know that something has gone wrong.
Your copper pipes could be a green color because of patina, which you get due to the interaction between oxygen and other airborne material over time. The term for this is called “patina.”
Patina is a sign that there are leaks in your pipes. This can create more costly repairs down the line and you may be drinking copper water which will cause health problems, damage skin and hair, or even worse yet – cause mental issues like anxiety!
“Copper poisoning may also cause the following mental and behavioral symptoms: feeling anxious or irritable.” – healthline.com
The leaks in your copper pipe that may be causing that patina color don’t have to be big either to cause these problems. Copper pipes are notorious for developing pinhole leaks which are often not noticeable until some damage has been done.
If you have any questions about copper pipes or are having some problems with it, call Atlantis Plumbing today at 770-505-8570. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.