If your property still has a galvanized steel pipe system, you will potentially have to deal with water pressure problems or potential hazards, such as pipes bursting. Although it depends on the condition of the pipes, there are two possible solutions to the problem; replacing the entire system or relining the existing pipes.
Replacing the pipes
Most people automatically think that their only option to avoid any risk of future damages or to remove the risk of potential lead problems is to replace the entire plumbing system. When you replace the galvanized steel pipes with pipes that are made from a different material, you can generally expect the new system to last from 20-100 years, depending on the material used. However, if you are only planning to replace some of the galvanized pipes, you need to be mindful of the materials used for the new pipes. For instance, if copper pipes are used in the same plumbing system with galvanized pipes, it can accelerate corrosion of the entire system, which means you may need to replace the pipes again sooner than you expected.
The good news is that when replacing the steel pipes, every pipe in the building can be replaced and new plumbing pipes will generally last for several decades. Replacing the pipes will also help to fully restore the water flow and pressure and there will be a reduced risk of lead contamination in the potable water. The bad news is, replacing the pipes can be costly, especially if you are replacing the entire system, the plumbing company may need to cut holes in the walls in order to reach the pipes and it takes longer to replace the pipes than to reline them.
Relining the pipes
The other option is instead of replacing all of the galvanized steel plumbing, you may be able to reline the pipes. Relining the pipes consists of the plumber using an epoxy coating, which is much more cost-effective than replacing the pipes. Relining the pipes will restore them to the proper functioning and eliminate lead, leaks, and future corrosion. Relining the pipes has a similar lifespan to replacing the pipes; with proper installation, pipes that have been lined with an epoxy coating have a lifespan of about 35-50 years for potable water pipes and up to 80 years for sewer and drain lines. There are a number of pros of lining your existing galvanized steel pipes, including the internal diameter of the pipe is restored, takes less time to reline than replace, there’s no need to cut holes in the walls, it is an environmentally friendly option and it’s much less expensive to reline than to replace.
If you suspect the galvanized pipes on your property have reached the end of their lifespan, the best way to determine if you will need to replace all or some of the pipes or if you can reline them is to contact a plumbing and pipelining company to do a thorough inspection of the plumbing and pipe system.