Five Common Plumbing Problems in Old Construction

By admin / June 29, 2020

Older homes have issues similar to again human bodies. They groan, creak, and spring leaks just like a person in their later golden years. This is due to a variety of reasons, but the overall impression time takes on a house is the typical origin of the problems. One of the most common troubles of folks who own an older home is plumbing. Old plumbing can quickly create an emergency and fiasco for any resident living in an aging dwelling. There are five key types of issues that those living in these older homes face. They are pipe materials, sewage lines, old fixtures/fittings, improper repairs over the years, and also shifting structure/foundations. All five of these areas are specialties of the Tinley Park Plumbers.

  1. Pipe Material Issues:

    The first major cause of plumbing issues in old buildings, especially homes, is the materials used for that plumbing’s construction. Three main concerning materials have been used in the past and they are lead pipes, galvanized pipes, and Polybutylene. The first is almost self-explanatory why it can be a problem. Lead pipes lead to elevated levels of lead in potable water. When the water coming from your tap has high levels of lead, then everything you drink and cook with is slowly poisoning you. This is an obvious problem now, but back in the day, it was a common material to use because it was cheap and considered to be long-lasting. Many homes were built with lead-based pipe materials and they usually need complete overhauls and replacements of their entire plumbing systems to eliminate the threat of lead poisoning for residents.

    The second problematic pipe material is galvanized pipe. These are pipes that are zinc-coated iron become brittle and then break over time. This is because the zinc has slowly eroded and has left just the iron behind, which by itself is susceptible to oxidization which leaves it brittle. Once it reaches this point, it doesn’t take very much to break the pipes and even the expanding and contracting water through the seasons of the year as the temperature changes are enough to cause them to break. Not to mention all the other stresses placed on pipes that can all cause similar breaks in weakened pipe materials. Usually, these are replaced piece by piece as they break instead of complete replacements. This leaves residents in a constant state of repair, but this can be expected of an older home. Some even consider it part of their charm.

    The third and final pipe material that can cause problems for homeowners is polybutylene. Once considered being the ‘pipes of the future’ when they were released in the 70s, these plastic pipes were meant to be a cheap replacement for the high cost of copper pipes. It wasn’t long, however, before problems began to appear in this piping material. The oxidization processes that affect all plumbing materials were exceptionally detrimental to this plastic. It caused the pipes to flake off in pieces, then become thin and brittle, and finally, break. The manufacturer went bankrupt because of all the lawsuits against them for the weak pipe material causing widespread damage in a vast number of homes built in the 80s and early 90s. Currently, the material is not even rated by building codes and not even considered a viable option for plumbing any kind of building anymore, not even the mobile homes they were so popular with originally. Any of these plastic pipes that are found in homes during inspections or remodel are immediately subject to replacement, and the goal is to eliminate this mistake of material completely.

  2. Sewage Lines:

    These can be the messiest of plumbing issues for older homes. When one of them breaks it is immediately noticeable by the raw sewage stink permeating the atmosphere around the home. It can even cause sewage to back up into the home itself when a mainline break and/or becomes blocked. Many times, these breaks are caused by things like growing/expanding tree roots and driveway traffic putting stress on the main pipe itself. They are the most heavily used plumbing pipes in a home and in older homes with older appliances there is even more stress on these workhorses. This is because things like older toilets flowed with a much higher volume of water than they do now, and most of these homes were created before the invention and common installation of garbage disposals. So, it is easy to see how they can become worn over time, and with the added stress of a settling home, they are very susceptible to breakage. These major repair jobs can be tackled quickly and professionally by the Tinley Park Plumbers.

  3. Old Fixtures and Fittings:

    It is only common sense that with an older home you will face failing faucets, valves, and other fixtures. This is because nothing was designed to last forever and 30-year fixtures reaching the end of their lifespan start to break one after another. This is another one of those scenarios that lead to aging houses being in a constant state of repair. A fact that some consider charming while others see it as their living nightmare. This is because broken valves and other fittings in places like under the sink, behind the shower wall, and many others can have leaks that cause many hundreds if not thousands of dollars in damage in a relatively short time once they fail.

  4. Years of Improper Repairs:

    Many homeowners considered themselves to be do-it-yourselfers even though they have little to no experience. This means that there are a lot of homes out there that have been repaired by inexperienced folks for decades now. Any of these improperly finished repairs can break again or have other complications arise because of the overconfident repairmen and women who completed these repairs, and many do just that. Now, the newest owners and residents of these homes are left to fix the messes left behind by previous novice level repairs.

  5. Shifting Structures and Foundations:

    As we mentioned briefly with sewage lines, shifting houses put stress on many pipes leading into and out of homes. This is especially true of pipes that are embedded in the concrete substructures and that travel through the foundations of a home. Older homes are in a constant state of shifting and settling, and any slight change in the orientation of the pipes beneath them can cause breakages and leaks. Also, a situation known as pipe bellies can occur. This is when pipes shift to a point where the angle of their flow is reversed and small pools within the pipes are created. These areas collect sediment and lead to blockages and breaks that can quickly become an expensive mess to dig up and fix or replace them.

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