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How To Replace Galvanized Pipes With PEX.

If you live in a house that was built in the 1950’s to the 1970’s, there is a high possibility that your plumbing works run on galvanized pipes. If you have been keen over the years, you have already noted that you get super low water pressure to the extent of just having a slow drip in your bathroom faucet immediately after flushing the toilet.

You could also be getting lots of rust flakes that clog your faucet strainers and you have to clean them every once in a while. Worse still you could be experiencing regular pipe leaks and bursts in different areas. The main reason for this is that galvanized pipes have a lifespan of up to 50 years and you are approaching the end of your plumbing system days.

The manufacturers of galvanized pipes used to add a layer of Zinc to make the pipes sturdier and long lasting. The Zinc layer however rusts over time and it’s corroded by the flowing water which leads to rust accumulations, water passage restrictions and leakages in extreme conditions. The life line of galvanized pipes is 50 years. Anything above this is a huge discount to any home owner. Before getting to 50 you need to start planning a re-piping job.

How to Identify Galvanized Pipes in My House

There are many questions that could be running in your mind raging from why they had to use galvanized pipes to how you can easily identify them. First the galvanized pipes were highly recommended in the 1950’s to 1970’s as they were used to replace the lead pipes. Though cheap and highly rust resistant, the lead pipes caused numerous health challenges as a result of Lead poisoning and they were scrapped off.

Most builders and home owners then preferred to use galvanized pipes because they were cheaper than copper and more durable than the cheap plastic available then. Today, the galvanized pipes are rarely used in modern construction and you will only find them in older buildings and homes.

To know the type of piping used in your home, you can scratch the outer layer of the pipe with a knife or a coin and uncover it. You will see the color of the pipe and check from the chart below to know what material was used to do the piping.

  • Penny Colored : Copper pipes

  • Silver-Gray colored : Galvanized Steel pipes

  • Dull- Gray Colored : Lead – they are usually soft and bend easily. These pipes should be replaced soonest possible.

  • White or Black: Plastic pipes

Signs That You Need To Replace Your Galvanized Pipes with PEX.

There are telltale signs that show up and you will know that you need to do a re-piping project sooner than later.  Don’t be tricked by simple leaks that do not look severe, they situation can escalate really quickly and it can be disastrous. You home will suffer some significant damages in the event of a pipe burst or rupture.

Any homeowner with a house that is more than 30 years needs to be keen on the following signs and contact a re-piping expert right away.

  1. Discolored water
  2. Persistent water leaks
  3. Varying water pressure
  4. Bad taste and bad smells from the water
  5. Brown stains on the fixtures, sinks and tubs.

Once you get the signals above, you should engage an expert to come and inspect the piping system to determine the condition of your piping. They will recommend for a total re-piping or a section re-piping. Remember that whenever you keep damaged pipes or outdated pipes in your system, you are creating room for your home damage and puts your family’s health at risk.


Why is PEX The Most Preferred Pipe to Replace Galvanized Steel pipes?

PEX is the leading piping solution for excellent home re-piping projects all over the world. PEX pipes are made of Polyethylene (PE) that has been cross-linked (X).  It is highly sought after due to its flexibility, durability and high density. Using PEX for a home re-piping project is both convenient and highly affordable not to mention that you can do it by yourself.

The following a reasons why you should consider PEX in your next building or re-piping project.

  1. The pipes are Lead Free.
  2. They do not corrode.
  3. They are not affected by acidic water
  4. They are less likely to burst compared to other pipes
  5. PEX pipes are chlorine and scale resistant.
  6. They are resistant to extreme hot or cold temperatures
  7. They require fewer fittings and less gluing and soldering.


How To Replace Galvanized Pipes

The process is known as re-piping where the old plumbing system line is removed and it is replaced with a new system. The repiping procedure includes setting up all the New PEX pipes  and finally the water is switched back n when the new plumbing system is fully installed. For fault free connections,  a pressure test is carried out before switching back the water.

On average the whole process will take 2-4 days depending on the size of the house and the number of fixtures to be installed. Broken walls also need to be mended back after the plumbing replacement.

If you want to do the re-piping by yourself, follow the procedure below.

  • The first thing to do is to cut off the water supply to your house. Identify where the main water valve is and turn it off, the main valve is usually at the point of water entry into your home or near the street just next to your water meter.
  • The next thing is to drain the plumbing system and ensure no water is running in the pipes. if you are doing a section re-pipe, drain the pipes in that section. This can be done easily by running all the faucets, taps, and showers until there is no more water running out. These procedure removes all the water that had accumulated in the pipes.
  • The next step is to physically remove all the galvanized pipes. You will need a band saw or a hack saw or any other suitable metal tube cutter to cut through the galvanized pipes. Stay alert and have a container to collect water just in case there was some hiding in the pipes to catch the spills that may arise.
  • Where only part of the plumbing system is being removed, use a threaded transition fitting to switch into the PEX Tubing from the existing galvanized pipe. In some cases you may require a dielectric union depending on the PEX fittings you are using for the transition.
  • Always use the recommended tools and techniques when joining the PEX pipes to the fittings for water proof connections.
  • Always do a pressure test after finalizing the installation to ensure that you have a leak-free installation.


Final word

It is true that all galvanized pipes start corroding from the inside going out which ultimately results into pin hole leaks, rust tasting and colored water and irregular water pressure and temperatures.  These drawbacks start appearing as small issues but grow to be real water damage issues with time.

It is advisable to do regular checks on your plumbing system and also involve a plumber to do consistent inspections to pick out any issues before they grow into major water issues. If your house is over 40 years, it is advisable to do a full repipe of the plumbing system irrespective of the pipes condition.

We wish you a happy and safe stay as you enjoy high quality water tastes at the right temperatures and in the right pressure in your new PEX pipe plumbing system.