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  • Writer's pictureBeacon Fine Inspections

Older Plumbing Systems Present Leakage Potential

Cast iron and steel waste and drainpipes and galvanized steel water pipes have a greater potential for leakage. Rusting or corrosion on these plumbing pipes can be a common issue, especially in older homes. Preventing and addressing issues is essential to maintain the integrity of your plumbing system and prevent leakage and related damage.

rusted waste pipe leaking
leaking cast iron waste pipe

rusted galvanized steel pipe
rusted galvanized steel pipe

Issues with older plumbing systems can include:

  1. Leakage that can result in older plumbing systems can cause associated water damage and related damage to finishes and building components. Leakage can also be a conducive condition to wood destroying insect activity (e.g., termites) and organic growth (e.g., mold). If waste pipes leak there is also a sanitary concern as waste products can enter the living area.

  2. As rust builds up on the interior of the pipes, in addition to becoming more prone to leakage the inner diameter decreases affecting water pressure and, in the case of waste and drainpipes, drainage.

  3. Drinking water can become discolored due to rust particles. Taste can be affected. Sometimes sink aerators can become clogged.

  4. Plumbing fixtures and laundry can become rust stained.

Steps a plumbing contractor can take to address and prevent leakage issues with older cast iron, steel, and galvanized steel plumbing systems:

1. Identify the Type of Pipes: Evaluating your plumbing system for potential issues, repairs, and improvements

2.Replacing Older Pipes: If you have galvanized steel water distribution pipes that are rusting, consider replacing them with copper or PEX pipes. This is a long-term solution that eliminates the risk of rust altogether.

3. Use Anti-Corrosion Coatings: If replacing the pipes is not feasible, applying anti-corrosion coatings or paints to the existing pipes may be an temporary measure. These coatings act as a barrier, preventing external moisture from coming into contact with the metal surface.

4. Maintain Proper Ventilation: Ensure adequate ventilation in areas where pipes are located, such as basements and crawl spaces. Proper ventilation helps reduce humidity and moisture levels, which can accelerate rusting.

5. Install a Water Softener: Hard water can contribute to rusting by depositing minerals on the pipe's inner surface. Installing a water softener can reduce the mineral content in your water supply and slow down corrosion.

6. Regular Inspections: Periodically inspect your plumbing system for signs of rust, such as discoloration or flaking on the pipes. Address any rust spots promptly to prevent them from spreading.

7. Replace Fittings: Rust can also develop on pipe fittings and joints. If you notice rust on these components, replace them with new, corrosion-resistant fittings.

8. Install Dielectric Unions: When connecting different types of pipes (e.g., copper and steel), use dielectric unions. These fittings have a non-conductive barrier that prevents the pipes from coming into direct contact, reducing the risk of galvanic corrosion.

9. Keep Pipes Dry: Make sure there are no leaks in your plumbing system. Even minor leaks can introduce moisture, which accelerates rusting. Fix leaks as soon as you detect them.

10. Regular Maintenance: Consider having a professional plumber conduct regular maintenance on your plumbing system. They can assess the condition of your pipes and recommend preventive measures.


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