Even the newest homes are not immune to plumbing problems. However, the older your home is, the more likely you are to wake up at 2 am and discover a leak, a backing up toilet, or another major plumbing calamity. The thing is, plumbing issues don't just appear out of the blue, especially in an older home. If you know what you're watching for, you can typically detect plumbing problems and get a call in to the plumber before your floor is covered with sewage. Here are four major plumbing problems to be on the lookout for in older homes.
Rusting Galvanized Pipes
There was a time when plumbers believed galvanized steel was an awesome material for pipes. And indeed, it may have been the best option at the time. However, after a few decades, galvanized steel loses its galvanization and begins to rust. The pipes themselves still look fine since the rust starts on the inside, but as the rust eats its way through the pipe, you eventually get a leak or a burst pipe.
So how can you tell if your galvanized pipes are rusting before they spring a leak? Look at your water. Does it start to come out a little rust-colored if you have not turned it on in a while? Then you have rusting pipes and should call a plumber to replace them before they start leaking.
Bellied pipes are pipes that get pushed downward from their original positions. This creates a gathering point within the pipe where the water cannot flow upward again. Eventually, this leads to a slower flow of water from your faucets. It can also cause a pipe to burst and leak.
Bellying is most common in the pipes beneath your home, which clearly you cannot see. However, you may notice signs of a shifting foundation, such as doors that won't shut or cracks in the concrete. If you have reason to believe your foundation has shifted, have a plumber come check if your pipes have shifted, too. They can do so by sending a video camera down into the pipe.
Collapsing or Clogged Sewer Lines
The main sewer line that leads out to the street from your older home may also collapse or become clogged. Tree roots can grow into it, which will restrict the flow of water and waste through the pipe. Eventually, all of the drains and toilets in your home may stop draining.
If your drains seem to periodically slow down and then open up again, this could be a sign of developing trouble with your sewer line. (Toilet paper could get caught in roots, slow things down, and then break down, allowing water to flow again.) Your plumber can send a camera down into the line to see what's going on, and if needed, they can grind away the roots or replace the pipe.
Older homes are prone to plumbing issues, but there is no reason to sit around waiting for calamity to happen. Be proactive, and keep an eye out for the problems above.
To learn more, contact a plumber.