While galvanized piping may not be common in newly built homes, they were a staple of many homes built pre-1960s. The idea was to use a protective coating of zinc to stop your pipes from corrosion and rust, with the hopes that this would prolong the life of the pipes. While galvanized pipes were originally championed as an alternative to lead pipes, we stopped installing them at some point due to the realization that they were actually more likely to corrode and rust inside. If you think you may have galvanized piping in your home, here’s how you can tell for sure.
What Does Galvanized Piping Look Like?
New galvanized pipes actually looked somewhat similar to nickel pipes in terms of color. Over time, though, they begin to dull out and become lighter or darker depending on the environment in which they’re installed. It can be difficult to spot a galvanized pipe based on visuals alone though, as we’ve found that it’s common for many homeowners to paint over their pipes, making it difficult to tell just by looking at a pipe whether or not it’s galvanized.
How to Tell if You Have Them
Thankfully, there are ways to figure out whether you have galvanized piping or not. You’re going to need a flat head screwdriver and a magnet to do this test and it also depends on the material your piping is made of:
- Copper pipes will look similar to a copper penny once you scratch it with the screwdriver. A magnet won’t stick to it and they’re not galvanized.
- Plastic pipes aren’t going to be galvanized either. You can tell a pipe is plastic due to its ivory or white color and your magnet won’t stick to it.
- Galvanized steel will appear silver-gray and a sign that it’s galvanized is for a magnet to stick to it once scratched.
- Lead looks similarly dull silver-gray but the metal will likely feel softer and will be easy to scratch. Magnets won’t stick to them, though if you do suspect you have lead pipes, we recommend that you get those replaced as soon as possible.
Remember to check the pipes throughout your home, as it isn’t uncommon for homes to have different kinds of pipes in different parts of the house.
What’s the Cause for Concern with Galvanized Piping?
The zinc that these pipes are dipped in may contain lead or other impurities that you don’t want in your home’s pipes. It’s also possible that galvanized pipes were attached to older lead pipes that have since been removed, and even though those lead pipes are removed, potential corrosion could have trapped pieces of lead in your home.
We all know the health issues associated with lead, but galvanized pipes can also hurt your water pressure, discolor your water, or rust enough that you develop leaks in your home.
A RESIDENTIAL & COMMERCIAL PLUMBING COMPANY YOU CAN TRUST
Alpha Plumbing is a full-service plumbing and contracting company serving the Baltimore and Annapolis metro area with expertise in all aspects of plumbing. We’re family-owned and operated since 1991 from our office in Pasadena. We offer quality plumbing services at reasonable rates in a timely fashion. Our trucks are equipped with GPS systems to ensure we’re prompt and on time. No job is too large or too small! We maintain a fleet of well-stocked trucks and also own and operate our own backhoes for jobs requiring excavation.
For more information and to get a free no-obligation estimate, you can contact us on our website, send us an e-mail, or give us a call at (410) 255-5998.