If you’re living in an older home, you may consider it an opportunity to fix things up and raise your home’s functionality and market value. And that’s a good idea. Many people, especially those who are skilled at home repair, have seen value in the idea of purchasing an old or run down property at a lower price and repairing the faulty aspects to suit their needs and standards.
One aspect of any home that should be near the top of your repair and maintenance list is the plumbing. If your plumbing is not working correctly or is performing sub-optimally, you’re setting yourself up for all kinds of problems.
There are many plumbing repairs that can be carried out by homeowners with little to no experience. However, before you attempt a DIY plumbing project, you should inform yourself about the risks of working with older systems and make sure you are prepared.
If you feel less than comfortable about any of these aspects of your project, or if you are uncertain as to how to proceed with any plumbing installation or repair project, we advise that you contact a plumbing installation professional.
Check Exposed Pipes for Signs of Trouble
At least once a year, you should examine all the exposed pipes in your home to determine whether they are holding up or whether repairs may be needed. This is a job you might also want a professional eye to help you out with from time to time, but there are certain trouble signs you’ll definitely be able to spot for yourself. Here are some things to look for:
- Discoloration. Look for entire pipes that are discolored, but also, keep an eye out for small areas of discoloration as they can give way to larger damage. This often, but not always, takes the form of rust.
- Flaking. If the outer material of a pipe has become flaky, it’s a sure sign that something you don’t want is going on underneath.
- Dimpling. It may look like a minor problem, but you want your pipes to retain perfect shape. Even a small dimple can be a sign of a large problem.
If your pipes show any of the above signs of damage, it’s time to replace the flawed section. You’ll need to decide whether that’s something you feel comfortable doing on your own or whether you want to involve a professional.
Examine your Connections
Where do most weak spots in the plumbing occur? Where two pipes connect. This is especially true in homes with older plumbing, and particularly if the home contains newer appliances that have been connected to the old piping the house was built with. These connections, which aren’t made to fit each other, are often the first place leaks develop.
Plumbers have several fixes for a connection that doesn’t fit perfectly, but if your pipes and your house are old, chances are good that the plumbing was handled by people you’ve never even met. It can be hard to trust the stability of your home to that. A good step for you to take, therefore, is to find the connections where all your appliances join up with the piping. You’re looking for connections that fit snugly. If they don’t, you may want to replace the sections of pipe with newer pieces that fit tightly.
Another way to discover a faulty connection is by looking for leaks, as this is one of the most common causes. Check the floor, or the ceiling of the room below, and look for discoloration or moisture that might indicate leaky pipes. A leak can give rise to significant damage to your home, so make sure you get it taken care of quickly.
Consider a Switch to Plastic
If your pipes are older, chances are they’re made of metal. Metal pipes are vulnerable to rust, corrosion, and clogging. They’re also more of a risk during the winter months, if you live somewhere cold. Both metal and plastic PVC pipes have the capacity to freeze, but a frozen PVC pipe won’t burst the way a copper pipe will. You may have cracks and leaks to deal with, but the damage won’t be as catastrophic.
If you’re removing metal pipes and installing plastic ones, you’ll probably have to cut the PVC pipe yourself using a hacksaw. If that’s not a job you feel comfortable with, call in a professional plumber to help you complete the job.
Before taking on any plumbing work, remember that it’s important to shut off the water valve that feeds that section of your house. Failing to do so could leave you sitting in a puddle, and that’s a big mess to clean up. If you’re not confident about your ability to tackle DIY plumbing jobs, don’t take a risk—call in a pro to help you out.