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How normal is it that my pipes are clunking during the night?

Why is my water be orange??

Is it safe if my water tastes like iron?

Do I need to replace my pipes?

Unless you’re a plumber, the pipes in your house can remain a mystery. The bad news is, you won’t always know when things are going wrong. The good news is, you don’t have to. That’s what plumbers are for.

Before you call the plumber, however, there are a few things you should know about your own pipes to determine when they need to be replaced.

  • How old they are. Are your pipes a hundred years old? While it’s commendable that they’re still running water, they may not be worth keeping. Very old pipes can even be made out of lead, which becomes a health hazard over time. Lead pipes should be replaced immediately, as should Polybutylene pipes. Polybutylene pipes were used as recently as 1990, but they’re prone to breakage, and they should be replaced if they’re present in your home.
  • You can check your pipes. Your pipes don’t have to remain quite as much of a mystery. You’ll find a quite a few crawl spaces throughout your home, where you’re able to inspect the pipes. Every year or so, take a look at your pipes and check for warning signs. Any leaks? Definitely call a plumber. Any flaking, discoloration, dimples, or stains can also be a sign of bad pipes. According to the experts at Next Level Pipelining, when you see warning signs like that, you should always call in a plumber to take a look.

If you realize that replacing some of your pipes is in the cards, there are a few ways to do that for less.

  • To start, you can only replace the exposed pipes. A lot of your plumbing is encased in plaster, and it will cost an arm and a leg to get replaced. (Plus, it will be messy.) There are some situations where you should tackle this cost anyway, as in the case of lead pipes. In some situations, however, you can delay the need to replace all of your plumbing by only replacing the exposed bits. Your plumber can easily replace the pipes that are exposed, and that should only cost a few thousand.
  • Another great trick is to replace your pipes when you renovate. Your pipes might still be in decent shape, but if they’re 80 years old, they’ll probably need to be replaced during your lifetime. If a few walls are already in shambles, now is the time to get those hidden pipes replaced with something lasting.
  • Last but certainly not least, you can consider PEX piping. While traditional pipes require demolitions and costly installation, PEX piping is more like a hose than a pipe. A skilled plumber can install it through your walls without breaking any or much plaster. It can be snaked down into place and received at the next opening. PEX piping has been used for a while now, it meets all building codes, and it’s so far been shown to be just as reliable (if not more so) for plumbing.

While it can be hard to know when to replace your pipes, watching for warning signs will help you know when to call a plumber. Your plumber may suggest you only replace the exposed pipes, or he or she may insist you need your entire system replaced. If you can’t afford a full remodel, look at the cost of PEX piping and see if that could work for your family. Of course, in the end, we’ll hope you don’t need to replace your pipes at all — just yet.