How Do You Choose Pipe Repair or Replacement? What Are the Factors Involved?

How Do You Choose Pipe Repair or Replacement? What Are the Factors Involved?

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Signs That It’s Time to Make a Repair/Replace Plumbing Service Decision

There are a lot of ways that leaks and pipe degradation can reveal themselves, as your bluefrog plumbing service employee can tell you. A few of the classic ways are:

Incoming water under pressure

  • Suddenly high water bills
  • Moisture, mold, dampness
  • Damaged walls or bathroom tiling
  • Stains on ceilings

Outgoing wastewater, which is gravity fed so leaks are harder to detect

  • Sounds of constantly running water
  • Damp or moist floors
  • Odors, either moldy or sewage smells
  • Foundation cracks
  • Plants near your sewer or water line growing a bit too well
  • Rats investigating sewage smells

Suspect a water line leak any time you have high water bills with no explanation. The leak may be hidden under concrete, running freely without being seen. Ask your bluefrog plumbing service about a basic “everything off” water usage test to identify this problem. Hidden leaks often show up when pipes that have frozen and thawed have burst from the ice expansion and now have either small cracks or big leaks. Your local bluefrog plumbing service can tell you if pipe freezing is likely in your area.

Water Pipe Problems

Water pipes are under constant pressure but generally carry clear water so they stay in good condition. If your city or well water quality isn’t that great, though, it could be corroding your pipes over time and leaving them ready to leak and burst. Ask your plumbing service about water quality testing. In cases where extensive corrosion is present, as your plumber can tell you, a handful of little leaks might be a warning that the whole system is about to get pretty wet.

Getting Information About Your Leak or Damage

Even before your plumbing service digs in the yard, breaks through concrete, or makes holes in the walls, modern technology can help identify the types and locations of pipe leaks in your home. Digital leak detection and video inspection are the most popular ways to get information.

Isolated Leaks

Digital listening devices identify the sound of the leak and locate where in the pipe it is happening. bluefrog plumbing service also uses video inspection that can locate pipe damage which is likely to be leaking.

Damaged Pipe

Video inspection can go beyond leak identification to show the general condition of the insides of your pipes. Once you see corrosion or other damage that extends through the piping, you’ll have solid information to use when deciding to repair or replace the pipes.

Types of Piping

Major types of piping that you’ll find in American homes include:

  • Cast Iron
  • Lead
  • Copper
  • Galvanized Steel
  • PVC
  • PEX
  • Wood

Yes, wood. Wood pipe was used in places like Texas around the turn of the 20th century, and it’s a great example of plumbing that really should be replaced when better materials become available. By the 1920s, cast iron and galvanized steel were being used in the Lone Star State instead of wooden plumbing. These days, lead water pipes definitely should be replaced because the lead gets into the water and affects the bodies of people who drink it, especially children. Cast iron typically only lasts about 50 years, and PVC of the same age is also suspect. Since lots of houses were built 40-50 years ago and may have pipe degradation now, consider easily installed PEX as an option for replumbing your older home. Ask your plumbing service what repiping will do for your home’s longevity.

Techniques for Repair

Water Lines

Depending on the type of pipe, bluefrog plumbing service personnel can usually make a cut where the leak is located, remove the damaged section of pipe, and solder or cement a replacement section. This will add additional joints to the line, but our plumbers are skilled at making these inline repairs. A note: old joints in hot water lines and those exposed to cold temperatures may over time be affected by the expansion and contraction involved and could be sources of leaks. Patched copper pipe can also contain lead-based solder, which may contaminate household water.

Sewer Lines

Sewer lines require careful attention to the extent of the damage to ensure that additional repairs are not needed in the near future. A repair by your bluefrog plumbing service should last about 50 years. In many cases, the sewer line can be relined or patched using “trenchless” techniques that involve only minor digging in your yard to reach access points rather than a home-to-street trench being dug to replace the entire pipe. This saves the additional costs of major sewer work which usually involves the city connection. These include damage to the road, which must be repaired with traffic detours and personnel and adds significant cost to the job.

When Replacing Is Really the Best Way

Your hand is pretty much forced if you have lead water pipes, extensive pipe corrosion, or major sewer problems such as tree intrusions or “bellies.” Any time your water or sewer piping has been repeatedly repaired or has a large number of small leaks, it’s time to consider re-piping at least that section. PVC pipe becomes brittle over decades in use, and cast iron used for sewage experiences chemical reactions that cause corrosion over time.

Gathering Information for a Final Decision

Your decision factors include:

  • Extent of the current and likely future damage
  • Cost to repair or replace pipe based on identified piping issues
  • Costs of permits
  • Repair of wall access indoors
  • For sewer work, the possible cost of re-landscaping, and street repairs
  • Time and disruption of family life
  • Property value and future home inspection issues when the property is sold

Count on bluefrog Plumbing + Drain for Information, Skilled Repairs, and Replacement

Call us when you need a plumbing consult that’s definitive. We’ll make sure that you’re informed and can make the best piping repair or replace decision for your situation, lifestyle, budget, and property value. Call us at 844-HOP-TO-IT for quick results.

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