There is no question that older homes offer a sense of charm and character, often lacking in a more modern house. However, buyers mustn’t be blinded by the enormous antique staircase and bold architectural features that set the home apart from new builds or even a house built just a decade ago. Because when you fall for that older charmer, you could also be falling into a money pit of problems related to ancient plumbing. Here are some of the potentially costly items you could buy along with those hardwood floors and solid wood doors.
Old Pipe Material
Of course, old homes have old pipes, most of the time. Unless you have proof that the house has been repiped, be prepared to encounter piping that is no longer up to U.S. building codes. The three most common and unfortunate finds include galvanized pipe coated with a layer of zinc, lead pipe, and lead in the solder used in copper plumbing lines and polybutylene pipe that has become very brittle with age. All of these materials could necessitate repiping the entire house to avoid potential health issues and costly water damage.
Over the years, the soil around any home will shift. And as it moves, any pipes installed underground will also move. When the center of the pipe settles lower than the ends, it is said to have bellied. This settling can result in a loss of pressure in a water line and added stress on the pipe. It is not uncommon to find that a bellied water line develops stress cracks and eventually leaks.
In sewer lines, a pipe belly creates a low section that will accumulate waste and sediment. Over time, these areas are more prone to clogs and leaks. So if you notice that all of the drains in your charming older home are slow to clear, the issue could be a bellied sewer line that is partially blocked by sewage.
Failed Sewer Lines
Older sewer lines did not offer the quality and durability of the modern wonders that we use in today’s construction. Instead, many older homes have clay pipes held together with gravity and large bells but are not sealed like a modern sewer line. The result is usually massive damage from tree root invasions. The tree roots happily grow into the pipe joints, searching for natural fertilizer and free water flowing through the sewer line. Unfortunately, as the roots grow, they created larger gaps in the pipe joints and more damage to the line as a whole. As a result, many older homes need a sewer line replacement with a modern pipe material.
Too Many DIY Repairs
Depending on the age of the home, there could have been multiple owners who believed that they were qualified to make some plumbing repairs. And it is anyone’s guess if that was true or false. But as you begin to find more issues in the plumbing system, you will quickly determine if these current issues are related to some sub-par homeowner repairs and attempts to save a few dollars on a plumbing repair.
The biggest drawback to older fixtures is that they tend to deliver plenty of small leaks. And while a drip or two is not a reason to worry, a house full of old fixtures is likely to create a hefty water bill. So be prepared to install new low-flow options for long-term cost savings.
When you discover your dreamy older home has some hidden plumbing issues, call (701) 402-6643. The Total Care Plumbing experts will help you get your older home’s plumbing back on track.