If you’re trying to keep your home plumbing in good condition, you’ll inevitably wonder how long you can expect your home’s pipes to last — even more so if you’re considering purchasing new plumbing or recently have. Today, we’ll look at the life expectancy of home plumbing — and what you can do to avoid drastically shortening those service lives.
The Life Span of Pipe Materials
Pipes of different materials have different service life expectancies. These numbers are just the raw potential of the material. They can’t account for unexpected corrosion due to harsh cleaners or chemicals going down your drains or other unexpected contamination in your pipes.
Copper pipes can last as little as 50 years or as long as 100, but you can expect most to fall into a narrower range of 70–80 years of service life. This assumes nothing particularly damaging to copper pipes has passed through them during that service life. Copper pipes should be proactively replaced as soon as they start to show their age, as they can corrode aggressively once they begin to go.
Galvanized Pipes and Cast-Iron Pipes
If all goes according to plan, galvanized steel pipes and cast-iron pipes have similar life expectancies of 80–100 years — but these life expectancies tend to be optimistic, as galvanized steel and cast-iron pipes have proven susceptible to rusting over time. This can cause them to fail early, to narrow and cause clogs and low water pressure, etc. Rust in your water can look and taste unpleasant but is unlikely to harm you.
PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, pipes not made in recent years can be expected to last between 20 and 40 years, depending on quality and care. If your pipes are more recent and built with modern PVC technology, they can last significantly longer — 70 years or more. PVC pipes won’t corrode or rust, so under most circumstances, you don’t have to worry about them becoming a source of contamination in your water as they age.
PEX tubing falls between copper and old PVC on longevity, with an average service life of 30 to 50 years. PEX can be susceptible to additional wear factors such as high water temperatures and exposure to sunlight, which can throw a few curveballs on service life in some cases. Corroded PEX pipes can, in some circumstances, leach chemicals into the water as they age and wear, so it pays to be vigilant with older pipes.
Polypropylene pipes have an exceptional service life if properly cared for and not exposed to unexpected corrosive forces — some estimates suggest these pipes can last 100 years or longer. One hundred years is a long time to avoid problems, so actual service life expectancies might prove lower than initial estimates — as these pipes haven’t been around for 100 years yet, the number remains untested.
Professional Plumbing Services in Maryland & DC
Are your pipes nearing their expiration date — or a complete mystery? If you’re considering replacing your pipes, or you’re interested in learning what you can do to maintain the pipes in your Maryland- or DC-area home, the experts at Michael Bonsby can help you figure out what to do next.
Call us at 301-990-7970 today to learn more.