Galvanized plumbing was used extensively up until the 1950s. It has a long life expectancy of about 40-50 years.
Peterborough home inspections still reveal homes with galvanized plumbing. Despite its long life, galvanized plumbing today is an important issue to consider. This is due to the fact that it hasn’t been installed for such a long time and therefore any remaining galvanized plumbing has now reached the end of its typical life expectancy.
As it ages, this supply plumbing rusts. You may notice rusty water when first turning on the tap. It rusts from the inside out. Eventually, it will rust through the pipe and you will have a water leak. Galvanized plumbing can actually form tiny rust holes which seal themselves with more rust, over time. In the meantime, the pipe is at increased risk of leaking, as minor scratching of these areas can open up the rust holes and leak water.
Another symptom you may encounter is reduced water pressure. The rust builds up inside the piping, reducing the inside diameter of the pipe and thus reducing the water pressure. Hot water and horizontal galvanized supply plumbing tends to rust more quickly.
PLUMBING–This photo shows how galvanized pipe rusts from the inside.
Abandoned galvanized plumbing shows serious rusting from inside the pipe.
Your home inspector should report the presence of galvanized plumbing and recommend its replacement by a qualified plumber. The cost of replacing all the plumbing with copper or PEX, for example, can be substantial.