Published onApril 18th, 2022
What Is the Average Lifespan of Pipes? How You Can Make Yours Last Longer
One of the most important systems in your New York City property is your plumbing system. Failing to take care of your pipes can result in expensive repairs, lack of water for tenants, and even catastrophic water damage and rebuilding. Let’s take a look at the average lifespan of pipes and review how you can protect your plumbing components so you get the longest wear possible from them.
How Long Do Pipes Last?
Depends on the material and their care
The average lifespan of pipes is determined by two major factors: the material they’re made of and the care they are given. We’ll review maintenance tips below that help increase the longevity of your pipes. Here’s what you can expect based on the type of common plumbing component in your system:
- Copper pipes — 70-80 years
- Brass pipes — 80-100 years
- Galvanized steel pipes — 20-50 years
- Polyvinyl chloride (aka PVC) pipes — 25-40 years (older PVC) or 70+ years (newer PVC)
- Cast iron drain lines — 80-100 years
If you have any lead piping in your property, it must be removed for health reasons, even if it looks like it could last indefinitely.
Polybutylene piping was used quite a bit from the 1970s through the 1990s, although less in New York than in other parts of the country. This inexpensive, flexible gray pipe material corrodes from the inside out when exposed to chlorine, a common element used to treat drinking water. Therefore, you should replace any polybutylene piping right away.
We also usually recommend replacing galvanized piping, as it is more prone to rust and corrosion than was originally thought when it was first installed. This isn’t typically an emergency job, but it should be done soon.
How Do You Know If Your Pipes Are Wearing Out?
If you have pipes in your building that are close to the end of their lifespan, you may notice certain warning signs:
- Visible rust
- Corrosion that causes thin spots or tiny holes
- Growth of mold or mildew near pipes
- Leaks or noticeable cracks or holes
- Discolored or metallic tasting water
- Previous incident of frozen pipes
- Low water pressure
- Old age
- Noisy pipes
- Unusually high water bill
- Water ponding outside near building
- Unpleasant odors
Don’t wait until you have a broken pipe and consequent water damage to replace pipes on their way out. A reasonable expense up front will be far less than the cost of repairing a completely broken pipe, cleaning up water, and paying for tenants’ damaged belongings, not to mention increased property insurance rates.
How Can You Increase the Lifespan of Pipes?
Use quality materials
Always use the best quality plumbing supplies available. Yes, you pay more at first, but you reap the savings in the long term. At Sanitary Plumbing, we can help you select the best pipes for your property, so you shouldn’t have to replace pipes again in your lifetime. We also encourage property owners to get the best fittings and connectors they can.
Prevent freezing pipes
Freezing pipes are a huge problem in New York City in the winter. There are three prime ways to prevent frozen pipes:
- 1. Insulate vulnerable pipes in cold areas.
- 2. Insulate chilly rooms (little sun, wind exposure, etc.).
- 3. Instruct tenants and staff to never lower the thermostat below 55 degrees Fahrenheit in winter, even if no one is home or the unit is empty.
Know the signs of a freezing pipe and how to try thawing it on your own in case the tips above fail.
Use a filtration system
Avoid the accumulation of sediment, mineral scale, and other unwanted material by using a whole-building filtration system. Not only will it help your pipes, but it will also extend the life of valves, boiler parts, and water heaters.
Treat boiler water
Speaking of your boiler, you want to make sure your boiler water is treated to achieve the proper pH. Water that is too acidic can corrode pipes faster. Our partners at Calray Boilers can assist you with boiler water treatment.
Avoid excess water pressure
Water pressure that is too high exerts too much force on your pipes. This can cause undue wear and tear over time. A pressure regulator solves this problem. This device, installed where the municipal water source enters the property, reduces high pressure to a reasonable level while still giving tenants adequate pressure for activities like showering.
Clean out clogs manually
If you’re a New York City property owner or manager, you’ve probably had your share of clogged pipes. Whenever possible, it’s better to clean out clogs manually with a plunger or snake than to use corrosive liquid drain cleaner. If you don’t have the tools to do this, or if you feel you would rather have a professional do the job, Sanitary Plumbing is happy to come out and take care of it.
Remove tree roots and other infiltrators
Large plantings can intrude on pipes and drain lines, causing clogs and backups. Be sure to keep tree and shrub roots away from your pipes to prevent them from working their way inside or pushing the pipe out of place.
Do you have pipes that are near the end of their lifespan? Not sure if some of your pipes should be replaced before a disaster happens? Call Sanitary Plumbing today at 212-734-5000 or reach out online for a consultation. We do pipe assessments, repairs, and new installations, so you can relax knowing your plumbing system is in tip-top shape.