What’s the Typical Life Span of Pipes Used for Plumbing?
By Daniel Burke, 9:00 am on January 9, 2021
“Nothing lasts forever” is a cliché that contains a great deal of truth. Plumbing pipes sit behind walls, out of sight and out of mind—until they fail. Whether they suffer pinhole leaks or high-pressure gushers, pipes will eventually come to the end of their serviceable lives, and when they do, they can cause a significant amount of damage and have homeowners frantically Googling “residential plumbers near me.” Homeowners should have some basic knowledge about the life span of the two styles of plumbing pipes: supply lines and drain lines.
Supply lines deliver water to your fixtures and are more susceptible to failure because they’re under constant pressure. The pressure in supply lines also means they’re likely to cause greater damage when they fail. Another risk factor for supply lines is that the hot water lines are under high temperatures for most of their lives.
How long supply lines will last is determined by a number of factors, including temperature, water hardness, and pressure, but the primary factor is the material they’re made of. For brass pipes, expect a useful life of between 40 and 70 years. Copper pipes will last around 50 years, PVC will last closer to 75 years, and galvanized steel will last between 20 and 50 years on average. A newer style of water supply line, PEX tubing, is more DIY friendly, requiring less connections. PEX lasts around 40–50 years.
Lead pipes were installed in homes in the early 1900s. While lead pipes will stay intact for around 100 years, they’ve been known to leach lead into the water passing through them, making them unsafe for use. If you have any lead pipes in your home, they need to be removed.
Drain lines are used to remove water and waste from buildings. Primarily through the use of gravity, these lines connect the drains in your home to your city’s sewage system. Because they’re not under as much pressure as supply lines, drain lines are less likely to fail and typically cause less damage when they do.
There are two primary drain line materials: cast iron and PVC. The useful life of a cast iron drain line is between 75 and 100 years, while you can expect a PVC drain line to last indefinitely.
Why You Should Hire a Pro
With the risks to your health and home that exist when plumbing pipes fail, their repair is best left to professionals. It’s advisable to have a licensed plumber conduct periodic inspections of your home’s plumbing to ensure your system is safe and efficient. If you’re considering replacing or adding plumbing pipes, it’s highly recommended that you research local pros to do the job for you.
If you find yourself dealing with a problem related to the pipes in your home’s plumbing, call on the experts at Burke Contractors. Because we only contract with licensed and experienced plumbers, our Southern California clients receive nothing less than exceptional service delivered with outstanding professionalism. When they need high-quality residential plumbing services, San Diego residents trust us to connect them with the best professionals available. If you need plumbing services of any kind, call us right away at 858-208-7765.