Today we are talking about galvanized plumbing and the potential problems it poses for water heater replacement. First, a little history: Galvanized plumbing was popular up until the 1960s and was the main type of metal pipe used for plumbing in all different situations. Galvanized pipes have been dipped in a protective zinc coating. This was done to prevent the pipes from corroding and to replace the previously popular – but potentially dangerous – lead pipes. However, over the years it was discovered that the galvanized pipes also started corroding on the inside. This became a problem as the corrosion would eventually cause the water to have a much more difficult time passing through the pipes leading to potential low water flows.
Some other issues associated with corroded galvanized plumbing include discolored water and even leaking, especially from the joints and fittings. The corrosion can get so bad that the pipes can literally crumble if too much pressure is placed on them. So, if a person sees a leak and calls a plumber (or water heater company dependent on where the leak is located), any repair or work being done to the galvanized plumbing may cause the pipe to break and lead to even more plumbing problems. This is often why if the home has galvanized plumbing that is heavily corroded, it is often recommended that all of the pipes be replaced to avoid further issues.
One other problem caused by corroded galvanized plumbing occurs after plumbing work has been done. When we replace a water heater, we have to shut the water off. Once the water is turned off, all of the corrosion that was displaced by the water in the pipes then can fill up the pipe causing low water flow or even total water flow stoppage. Often, if we have just replaced a water heater and the person living there claims that they are having water flow issues, we will usually recommend that they remove the aerators at the faucet where they are having issues and clean it out. That will often solve the problem. However, if that doesn’t solve it, then you may be looking at having to replace the old galvanized plumbing with another type of pipe such as copper.
At the end of the day, we are seeing galvanized plumbing slowly being replaced and that’s a good thing, even though it is very costly to do so. When we come across galvanized plumbing at one of our installs, we will make sure and tell the owner or property manager just so they are aware of any potential problems that might occur. Depending on the current state of the plumbing, we won’t necessarily stop work, but, again, will always advise the owner before continuing so they know if any of the pipes break due to corrosion, then further work may be required. Regardless, give us a call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-510-839-0414 with any questions or concerns you might have about your water heater and any potential plumbing issues you may be having. We can help diagnose your problem and even set up a time to come out and take a look.