Most Common Plumbing Problems In Old Houses – London

November 18, 2020 8:04 am

There are many character properties built in different eras that grace neighborhoods in and around the UK and depict the very essence of Olde English architecture. Their appeal is still common amongst homebuyers due to their gabled roofs, rounded towers, large windows, and red brickwork.

Any property whether it be a period structure or something built at the start of the 1900s will have been constructed with materials available at the time! Wiring, light fittings, fuse boxes, etc would have been updated to conform with new regulations.

However, the pipework that’s concealed in the fabric of the building, is less likely to be given the same attention. ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ and why would you undertake such works if the plumbing is free of any obvious defects?

There could be plumbing issues lurking with aged pipework. Old pipework is usually galvanized (iron pipework with a zinc coating), which erodes and corrodes pipework over time, which is bad news for your plumbing. Galvanized pipework may pose a potential health hazard if not brought up to date and replaced with safer more modern pipework.

There are a variety of plumbing issues that arise within properties, all of which can be resolved with the right approach and expertise. Here are some of the most common issues with pipes found within older properties and what to do.

Galvanised Pipes in an Old Home

Internal corrosion will happen to any steel pipe carrying water in your plumbing system, over time. It is similar to a buildup of arterial cholesterol in humans. It won’t happen overnight, you will be pleased to know.

Properties built prior to the 1950s had galvanized and lead piping installed for plumbing purposes. Like anything, galvanized steel piping has a life expectancy, some say from 50 to 90 years (research shows variations in life span).

Low Water Pressure

Is usually an indicator that the internal bore of a steel pipe (in aged properties) is beginning to ‘fur’ up or become clogged. Check the flow of water from your taps if the pressure is slower than other outlets could suggest a buildup of internal corrosion (rust).

As the water exits the tap/s you may have noticed water discoloration, another sign of corrosion within the pipes? Old showerheads and fixtures could also show signs of corrosion. It could be time to consider repiping your property using serviceteam’s plumbing professionals.

Pipe ‘Bellies’

This pipe ‘sag’ is usually found in the underground sewer pipe. The ‘sag’ can slow the flow of waste away from a property. If after rodding/machine jetting (depending on how severe the blockage) and the blockage returns, even with proper waste management of nappies/wipes/sanitary ware, etc, it may suggest the underground piping has sagged? Underground pipework is a good way to keep pipes out of the way but the ground doesn’t always hold them securely.

The ground will move, over time, for a number of reasons distorting underground pipe runs. So, if you have removed a previous sewer blockage but it keeps returning (in the same place) could mean there is a ‘sag’ in the pipe run?

Ingress of tree roots

A property close to trees either in the street or back garden may find the roots have intruded into the sewer causing restrictions and the toilet ‘backing up’! Tree roots will penetrate cracks or fractures that have formed on the surface of a pipe.

Roots increase in size as the roots extend regardless of where access is gained. The roots will ‘catch’ the waste (or anything else flushed, that shouldn’t be) leading to blockages, leaks or even a burst pipe.
Routine inspection by a competent service provider makes good sense to determine tree root intrusion before it causes any extensive damage and/or costly expense.

Aged Pipe Work

It’s likely that any home built pre 1990’s might have plumbing pipes that do not conform to current Industrial construction standards, with the exception of those that have been upgraded.

Nevertheless, it is recommended you investigate aged pipes to see if any of the above are present i.e. slow water flow/discoloration

Lead Pipes

It’s the responsibility of the homeowner to replace lead pipes within the boundary of the property. It’s not a legal requirement but over time lead will ‘leach’ into your drinking water posing a potential health hazard.

Galvanized Pipes

Utilized for water lines in homes before the ’60s, galvanized pipes are made of iron and covered with a zinc coating. After a time, the zinc breaks down exposing the pipeline to corrosion which weakens it making susceptible to cracking and leaking.

If the piping is run externally it is easier and recommended that they are replaced with more up-to-date piping.

An expert plumber will have the right tools and skills to discover any issues that most property holders may miss.

For expert advice on the plumbing status of your property call serviceteam for advice and guidance

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