Before the invention of today’s common plumbing pipes, one of the most common materials for piping was galvanized steel. While this material was once thought to be revolutionary, we have since found that it is ineffective and dangerous. Today, most pipes are made from copper and plastics, which tend to be better for a safe, lasting material. In homes built before the ’80s, there is the potential for pipes to be made with galvanized steel. Why should you care, and what should you do? Today we’ll walk you through some of the basics of galvanized steel pipes.
What Is Galvanized Steel?
Before the invention of galvanized steel pipes, most plumbing was done using lead pipes. Not only were these not healthy, but lead is a soft metal and pipes made from lead became deformed and ineffective quickly. As technology improved, the steel pipe was invented. At first, it was thought that this would help eliminate the risk of lead poisoning, but steel pipes were treated with a zinc coating to keep them from rusting that often contained small but significant amounts of lead. Over time the coating on these pipes began to corrode, and the pipes would leach lead, heavy metals, and other toxins. When combined with the fact that the corrosion leads to frequent breaks, leaks, clogs, and low water pressure it became clear that a new solution was needed. By the 80’s most buildings were constructed without galvanized steel pipes.
Does My Home Have Galvanized Steel Pipes?
While most newer construction does not use this problematic piping, there were still instances of its use well into the ’80s. In general, if your home is over 50 years old, there is a chance your pipes are galvanized. You can check the type of piping by using two easy methods; the first is to scratch exposed pipes with a screwdriver or similar tool. When you scratch, the original color of your pipe should shine through, if it is gray it is likely to be steel. Plastic will be plainly obvious while copper will have a tell-tale hue. You can also test your piping by attempting to stick a magnet to it. Steel pipes will hold a magnet while all other types will not.
What To Do With Galvanized Pipes?
Even if the visible pipes in your home are not galvanized steel, if your home is over a certain age it might be beneficial to hire a plumber for a thorough check. Because of the health risk, it is always better to be safe. If you did find the offending pipe type in your tests, replacing them as soon as possible is in your best interest. In some cases, you may only need to replace older sections if new plumbing had been added in. In others, you might need to repipe your entire home. While this is a major undertaking, a good plumber should be able to complete the job with minor disruption.
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.