The coating process, known as galvanizing, involves the use of dipping steel into molten zinc. However, as sometimes happens in the plumbing industry, the passage of time revealed flaws with galvanized steel. During the decades-spanning between the 1930s and 1960s, galvanized steel was the material of choice for water distribution lines inside buildings. The erosion may eventually lead to full blown leaks in your pipes, and water damage in your walls and ceilings. Because of the breakdown in your pipes, the water pressure in your home could be significantly lessened, or uneven in certain places.
The city of Portland has taken steps to make the water safe, including checking for lead in the service pipes to residences. On the other hand, if your pipe scratches easily due to a soft metal, is gray in color, and a magnet doesn’t stick to it, you may be dealing with lead pipes, which will need to be replaced as soon as possible. If you scratch the surface of your pipe revealing a grayish-silver color and a magnet does stick to them, your pipes are galvanized steel.
Galvanized plumbing could pose a dangerous health hazard if not replaced with updated, safer pipes. If you do have galvanized plumbing and your pipes need to be upgraded or replaced, our certified plumbers have extensive experience in making these upgrades. Even worse, these types of pipes can contaminate your water supply.
Even if you don’t have a leak, a licensed plumber can inspect your galvanized pipes to advise you on whether they are to blame for any plumbing issues you may be experiencing. The deposits along the interior of the pipe build up over time, restricting water flow and decreasing the water pressure in your home. As early as the 1960s, galvanized pipes started being replaced with copper.
Galvanized pipes remain less expensive than copper and are more durable than plastic. When galvanized pipes were first used, they were preferred because they were less costly than copper. Galvanized steel pipes, on the other hand, are a steel-gray color.
However, after decades of use, corrosion and rust build up on the inside of these pipes, which can cause problems. By the 1960s, galvanized steel had replaced lead as the building block of choice for plumbing. After increased pressure to curb lead poisoning, builders began looking for an alternative to lead pipes.
Getting copper to the hot and cold water supplies in the kitchen and bath was simply a matter of removing the lath and plaster from a stud bay, dropping the pipe into the basement and soldering them up. In your two-story duplex, repiping the ground floor unit can be accomplished in much the same manner. While replacing the galvanized pipes with copper is the way to go, we don’t necessarily agree that your house will look like a war zone during the job. We’ve removed water pipes where corrosion reduced the 1/2-inch diameter to less than 1/4 inch. The low water pressure is the main clue that your pipes need to be replaced.