The popularity of different building materials has changed over the years, especially when it comes to residential plumbing.

 Lead pipes were common for thousands of years (the Romans used them). They weren’t completely phased out until 1986 when the Safe Water Drinking Act was passed, granting the EPA the ability to regulate standards for drinking water quality. 

You definitely would not want them in your home now! If you think you might have lead pipes, please give us a call right away.

Copper piping has long been an option for homeowners, though they are more expensive to install. PVC and PEX pipes (so-called plastic pipe) have been a major player over the last few years as a cheaper alternative. But copper pipe is still used for your supply lines, along with other more modern materials.

And then, there are galvanized pipes.

Galvanized Pipe Replacement: A Little History

Galvanized steel originally developed in the early the early 19th century, by bonding zinc to steel. The zinc protects the steel from corrosion, while the steel provides strength and rigidity.

As builders began looking for alternatives to plumbing with lead pipes, they began using galvanized steel pipe for residential construction. By 1960 they largely replaced lead in residential buildings. 

A galvanized pipe is a steel pipe dipped in zinc to provide a protective coating. This allows it to be used in plumbing.

You’ll regularly find these plumbing pipes in homes built before 1970, though its use continued into the 1980’s in some areas. Galvanized pipe is strong, and the zinc coating protects the steel from corrosion by water.

While the zinc works well, it is not infallible, and will at some point allow for corrosion as it breaks down and allows water to sit against the steel.

The normal life expectancy of galvanized pipes is 40-50 years. So, if your home was built before 1990, there’s a good chance you have galvanized plumbing that has serious corrosion. 

Do Galvanized Pipes Need To Be Replaced?

Galvanized pipes are considered safe, but over time, corrosion will rot out the pipes.

The corrosion takes place typically on the inside of the pipe – they rot from the inside out. This corrosion restricts the flow of water, and ultimately leads to a critical failure. And as this corrosion occurs on the inside of the pipe, it’s difficult to know it’s happening until serious problems arise.

But there are some clues that indicate your galvanized pipes are coming to an end:

  • Rust around pipe joints.
  • Brownish water when you first run the faucet in the morning, or after returning from a vacation. You might also want to check into having the water in the unit tested, to see if there is any concentration of toxic metals. Many cities have taken measures to replace old pipes, including the City of Arlington.
  • Low water pressure, particularly if your water pressure has slowly reduced over time.
  • Leaking pipe with rust spots.

If you are looking at an older structure with galvanized pipes, and there are signs of corrosion, there’s a good chance your pipes are going to start leaking. And there is the possibility the corrosion will cause a burst pipe. Check out this video on an old galvanized pipe:

What’s Inside Your Pipes? Galvanized water pipes cut in half

This corrosion will also be found in your waste water pipes. This corrosion will lead to leaking as well. And trust me, you do not want waste water leaking inside your home. These types of plumbing leaks can sometimes be confused for slab leak repairs in Arlington TX, where pipes are on the older side. 

If you have a slab foundation, you probably have pipes running underneath that can leak. These pipes will also be rotting out from the corrosion. This is a more difficult problem to find and resolve. 

So, when should you replace those old galvanized pipes – Right now! 

Give us a call:817-200-4703

Replacing Galvanized Pipes in Your Home

If you have an older home with galvanized pipes, they are at the end of their serviceable lifespan. If that is the case, your plumbing system will need to be replaced. 

This may seem daunting, as a complete replacement of all your plumbing pipes is a big job. But there are options to ease the pain. 

If you’re considering how to fix galvanized pipe, there’s a simple answer, you can’t. Or, how to repair galvanized water pipe with PVC? Basically, with residential homes, you can’t

The first step is to replace the galvanized steel pipes that have a leak in them (or sections that are clogged). Working your way around the house from the worst condition pipes to the ones with the least corrosion. 

Basically, breaking the larger job down into a series of smaller jobs.

You should consider doing the potable water lines first. As these pipes can sometimes collect lead that ends up in the water. Then move on to the waste water pipes.

If you decide to replace sections of your home or business’ plumbing, there are a few options. These options are covered in more detail below:

FYI: If you are thinking about purchasing a building with galvanized pipes within the Dallas-Fort Worth area, have a Bedford, Texas pipe repair, or have concerns about a home or business you currently own, Plumber Arlington Texas is available to talk.

Pipe Replacement Options:

Material Positives Negatives Lifespan
Galvanized Steel ·      Not toxic ·      Corrosion issues

·      Technical skills needed to install

40-50 years
Copper ·      Slow corrosion

·      Long lifespan

·      High cost

·      Technical skills needed to install

50-70+ years
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)


·      Corrosion resistant

·      Long lifespan

·      Affordable

·      Easy to install

·      Used as a waste pipe, not as a water supply pipe.

·      Brittle with age if used outdoors

50-100+ years
Cross-linked Polyethylene (PEX)


·      Cheaper than copper

·      Easy to install

·      Limited lifespan

·      Not for external use

·      No sun exposure

Too New to Calc.
Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride (CPVC)


·      Long lifespan

·      Affordable

·      Easy to install

·      Not for external use

·      Brittle with age

50+ years

Replace Galvanized Pipe With PEX

Another option that will save you some money is to disconnect the old galvanized pipe, and leave it in place whenever feasible. Then PEX pipes will be used to run new supply lines (PEX is a new plumbing material that offers strength and durability at a more affordable price). 

The new pipes can be rerouted in a more efficient way, minimizing the amount of cutting into walls, etc. and speeding up the process. So, your best bet is to replace galvanized pipes with PEX.

The waste water pipes will be replaced with PVC pipes. These are a very cost effective material for your drain pipes. So replacing galvanized pipes with PVC is the way to go.

The pipes underneath your slab foundation can sometimes be replaced using trenchless sewer line repair

Unfortunately, galvanized piping only lasts so long, and the only way to deal with it is to remove and replace it. Or, as it is typically called, “repiping.” It is a big project, and it isn’t cheap, but it is necessary. 

Concerned About Your Galvanized Pipe Replacement?

If you have concerns about the plumbing pipes in your home or business, we will be glad to come out to assess the problem.  As licensed master plumbers, we have the experience and know how to give you an accurate estimate on any plumbing project.

Give us a call today to hear more about the variety of options available to you. Let’s get those old, unhealthy pipes replaced so you don’t have to worry anymore.

Call 817-200-4703 for help replacing galvanized pipes.

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