What Can Your Pipes Tell You?

Plumbing problems usually appear out of the blue, often at the worst possible times. No one ever wants to see a costly repair bill, but it can sometimes seem like your pipes have a sixth sense for when an unexpected visit from the plumber will do the most damage to your wallet. Homeowners are often caught off guard by burst pipes and clogged drains, but easy-to-miss warning signs are typically present before any failure. Getting to know your home's plumbing can help you to recognize danger before your basement floor is soaked and you're holding an expensive emergency repair bill at two in the morning.

What Type Of Pipes Does Your Home Have?

The first step to learning about your home's plumbing is learning about the pipes that it uses. Plumbing in your home consists of two types of pipes: supply lines and drain lines. As you might expect, supply lines carry hot and cold water to fixtures while drain lines carry wastewater away from your home. During installation, your home's plumber selected pipe materials based on the role of each line and your overall budget.

In older homes, copper pipes were a common choice for most supply lines. Copper remains popular because PVC is not suitable for high temperatures, and so it does not work well for hot water supply lines. Some newer homes use PEX (polyethylene cross-linked) tubing for supply lines instead, however. This flexible pipe is relatively cheap and easy to install, while still being suitable for hot water usage. PEX is easy to recognize since it is color-coded in blue (or cold water) and red (for hot water).

Finally, both newer and older homes will commonly use PVC for drain lines. PVC pipe is cheap, easy to work with, long-lasting, and well-suited for drainage. Very old homes may use galvanized steel for drain lines, but this is effectively unheard of in newer construction.

Recognizing Trouble

Once you can identify the type of pipes in your homes, you can learn to recognize problems. Trouble in PVC or PEX piping is rare, but that doesn't mean that these systems don't leak. While the pipe material itself is rugged and rarely fails, fittings and joints can develop leaks. When inspecting your home's plumbing, pay special attention to fittings where PEX pipes join with other materials, such as copper. This style of plumbing joint is especially common in older homes that have had sections of their plumbing upgraded.

For copper or steel piping, corrosion is your number one enemy. Signs of rust on the outside of pipes can be a warning that failure is imminent. Rusty water from your faucets can also be a sign that your pipes are corroding internally. While the source of corrosion should always be addressed, pipes that are severely rusted are usually unsalvageable and require replacement. If you notice these issues on your pipes, contact a plumber immediately for a thorough evaluation before disaster strikes.

For more information, reach out to a company like Right Solution Plumbing today.