When Should I Repipe My Home
Many clients in South Orange County California ask me “When Should I Repipe My Home?” After more than 45 years in the construction and remodeling business, here is what I’ve learned:
When Should I Repipe My Home?
- If your house was built during or before the year 2010.
- When remodeling a bathroom and there is another bathroom on the opposite side of the wall. For example, on the other side of the master bathroom wall is the guest or hall bathroom.
- When remodeling the kitchen and the sink is under a window or there is plumbing in an island.
- When performing a full interior remodel.
- Adding an addition onto the house and the addition will have plumbing (bathroom, kitchen, etc.).
If your house was built during or before the year 2010.
Prior to roughly the year 1965, most homes used galvanized pipe for the waters. If you are one of the very few who still have galvanized pipes and have not repiped, stop reading this and get it done now! Somehow you have miraculously avoided a terrible leak – but it’s coming, and it will be nasty. Unlike copper, when galvanized pipe springs a leak, it’s almost always a torrent of water that very quickly causes significant water damage – it’s fast!
Between roughly the years 1965 to 2010, copper was widely used for the waters. Most leaks that occurred from copper were from what’s commonly known as slab leaks (occurred under the concrete slab). These generally occurred because of aggressive soil conditions that caused the copper pipe to corrode. About the year 2000, copper pipes started having leak issues in walls, not just under the slab. Although controversial, the only substantial variable that changed was how water is treated by the water companies.
In 2010, lead was banned from the solder that’s used to connect copper pipe fittings (the solder contained a mixture of 50% tin and 50% lead). However, it was used for years afterwards until existing inventory was depleted. From my experience, this had nothing to do with copper pipe leaks. Every leak I encountered was in the pipe itself, not at a solder connection. The only time I see leaks at a solder connection is when the flux was not properly cleaned off.
The flux that was used to prepare the surface of copper pipes for solder is corrosive as it contains strong acids. If this was not properly cleaned off the pipe after soldering (or got inside the copper pipe), it would corrode the pipe and cause a leak.
I want to stress from my experience, I noticed a significant increase in copper pipe leaks after the water companies changed how they purify drinking water. Pipes, faucets, water heaters, etc. all started failing prematurely after the water purification treatment systems were changed. Throughout Orange County, California, especially South Orange County, copper pipe is failing in large numbers, causing a significant amount of home and property damage.
PEX pipe was introduced in California in 1990. PEX was slow to catch on, likely due to the stubbornness of the entrenched California State Pipe Trades Council. Today, PEX is included in all of the major model plumbing codes used in the United States and Canada, CSA, IAPMO, SBCCI, BOCA, ICBO, IPC and NSPC, and approved by HUD for hot and cold potable water plumbing use.
PEX became the primary drinking water pipe for homes around 2013. It’s super flexible, rated for fire, can last up to 50 years, easier and faster to install, and is less likely affected by current water purification processes.
Any PEX installed prior to 2010 should be replaced. Why? Because prior to 2010, it was not approved for use in California. Early versions of PEX fittings had questionable results and leaks occurred from these fittings. It was not necessarily the fitting itself. It appears most of the leaks were the result of Plumbers interchanging manufacturer fittings and installation techniques. Skilled and competent Plumbers know better today.
PEX is not suitable for outdoor use. Ultraviolet rays cause PEX to break down quickly—tubing left outdoors can harden and crack within a couple of months. Don’t store or install PEX outside!
While remodeling a bathroom and there is another bathroom on the opposite side of the wall. For example, on the other side of the master bathroom wall is the guest or hall bathroom. Be smart and save yourself a potentially nasty and expensive headache. I’ve seen this mistake made on more than one occasion. Typically, the waters for both bathrooms are on the same wall, making replacing the pipes far easier and less costly. The one bathroom is already completely open and accessible. Imagine having to tear out that beautiful new tiled shower in a few months because of a pipe leak in the old copper pipe.
When remodeling the kitchen and the sink is under a window or there is plumbing in an island. This is another nightmare waiting to happen! When the kitchen is remodeled, all the plumbing is open and accessible. How on earth will you repipe a kitchen faucet and dishwasher under a window after the new cabinets, sink, and countertops are installed – or in the middle of the room in an island? Can it be done? The window situation is a likely (but not always) yes, but it’s very expensive and can damage the new cabinets. The island – you’re toast! There is no way to get new pipe to that island without performing significant demolition to that new kitchen. Repipe when you remodel the kitchen!
If you are performing a full interior remodel. OK, do we really need to discuss the merits of this one? This is absolutely a no-brainer.
Adding an addition onto the house and the addition will have plumbing (bathroom, kitchen, etc.). When a home is built, the drinking water systems are typically installed underground, under the concrete slab. Why? It’s the cheapest way to do it! If you’re adding a room addition with plumbing (bathroom, kitchen, etc.), you’ve got to make sure the pipe serving the addition is the correct size to properly service the addition. That typically means a 3/4” to 1” pipe from the water service entrance in the main house (usually the front hose bib area). For the hot water, this can be picked up from the water heater (usually in the garage). Opening all these wall and ceiling areas to get water to the addition provides a perfect opportunity to knock-out two birds with one stone! The walls and ceilings are open – go ahead and install new PEX to the main house. Closing the walls and painting is the same cost! Here again, waiting to repipe with PEX until the old pipes start leaking will cost you twice – and that’s a waste of money.
Installing new PEX pipes in your house is not an unnecessary or added expense or luxury. It’s one of the smartest and cheapest insurance policies you’ll ever buy! Don’t wait until you have a leak and your entire world is turned upside down. Getting up in the morning to a flooded downstairs or coming home to your ceilings caved in and water pouring into your brand-new kitchen is complete misery. This unplanned disaster disrupts everything 10 times over and its significantly more expensive once the leak starts.
I hope this information helps answer the question “When Should I Repipe My Home”.
If you would like more information on “When Should I Repipe My Home”, or enjoying the best bathroom, kitchen, and interior remodeling experience, call DAD at (949) 380-0177 or at email@example.com for a free in home consultation (DAD’s serves all of South Orange County California including Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Foothill Ranch, Portola Hills, Ladera Ranch, Irvine, San Clemente, Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano, Rancho Santa Margarita, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Hills, Newport Beach, and Aliso Viejo).