To repipe or repair, that is the question...
Re-water-piping (repipe) normally involves replacing the entire interior hot and
cold water distribution system. This includes all of the main lines and branch lines
throughout the home or building, right up to each plumbing fixture.
A quality repipe job will include the main cut-off valve, individual fixture cut-offs
(stops) and supply tubes. TIP: This is also a good opportunity to replace any old
valves or faucets since they will need to be disconnected anyway.
Depending on the situation and composition, the outside water main feeding your
home may also need replacing during the process.
One thing is certain when doing such an extensive job, and that is to use a licensed,
bonded and insured plumbing contractor who specializes in repiping. Check credentials,
get 3 bids and note the following...
- Proper permits and inspections must occur for your protection and compliance.
- All repiping must meet code for proper materials, sizing and workmanship.
- Oftentimes portions of walls or ceilings will need be opened to accommodate plumbing,
so know up front who is responsible for closing and repairing, and to what extent.
- Know up front what kind of piping materials will be used.
- Know up front exactly how piping will be routed and secured and if any will be exposed.
- Understand exactly to what extent water piping will be replaced (some contractors
could take shortcuts to undercut bids and not go “all the way”, such
as including fixture supplies, stops, dishwasher feeds, etc.). Make sure you’re
getting your money’s worth so you won’t be fixing more leaks in the
Obtain detailed, written proposals to avoid any misunderstanding
and make sure everything above is covered. Compare apples to apples - the lowest
bid may not be your best value in the long run. Be sure to include a proposal from
Corona, the repiping specialists
and learn firsthand why we are different and how you will benefit.
A professionally repiped home will add value and peace of mind for many years to
come. A “cheap” job can end up being a nightmare. Getting it done right
the first time avoids hassles, headaches, mess and is more cost effective in the
How will I know if I need to repipe my home or business?
Here are some signs to watch for...
Poor water pressure or volume:
- Does your water just trickle out of your faucets?
- Do you get scalded in the shower whenever someone else flushes a toilet?
- When running the water, does the volume noticeably drop when someone else does the
- Does it seem to take way too long to fill up a sink, tub or toilet?
Contact us for a free evaluation and
estimate. This could be caused by old, galvanized steel water piping which is rusting
closed inside causing a major flow-restriction. This would be similar to a “hardening
of the arteries” restricting blood flow.
Does your water come out red and rusty looking, especially at first blast?
Review the above. This is likely the same galvanized piping which is rusting away.
Be aware of other side effects:
- Rust particles and minerals can also plug up and restrict your plumbing valves,
faucets, dishwashers, washing machines, shower heads and toilets.
- They can also cause staining of fixtures and finishes.
- These particles and minerals are also unhealthy for your body, especially when drinking.
Another reason for repiping is leaking or corroded pipes.
Sometimes this can be visible when piping is exposed such as around water heaters,
under framed houses or in basements. However, in the vast majority of cases pipes
are hidden under concrete slabs, buried underground and hidden in walls. In most
cases, homeowners are not aware of pipe condition until they experience a leak.
For more information on this, see our informative pages on
Slab Leak Repairs and Leak Detection.
In addition to the galvanized piping above, copper tubing is also prone to leaking.
This typically develops as a pinhole leak that grows bigger until noticed as a leak
when above ground, or discovered by hearing or a high water bill if underground.
During an initial leak, speak with the plumber to learn the cause and condition
of your pipes. Was there a particular reason for the leak, or does it appear that
your pipes are just old and rotting away?
Some homeowners will go ahead and repipe to avoid further damage to their home and
costly repairs. Others will wait until they’ve had another leak or two before
finally throwing in the towel.
Our recommendation is that if it appears to be inevitable, you should do it sooner
than later. In this manner the money that would be spent on repairs and subsequent
damage could be diverted to a permanent cure for the problem. Also, the price of
labor and materials will only continue to rise with inflation. You will have more
time to plan and shop around when not in an emergency situation.
Types of water piping
We’ve touched on this already. It’s primarily found in older hopes and
was used prior to copper taking over, beginning in the 1950’s and 60’s.
This is where the plumber used their monkey wrenches instead of soldering torches
because galvanized steel pipe and fitting are all threaded (sometimes referred to
as screw pipe). The cutting and threading of the longer pipe runs was a very arduous
task requiring a good amount of skill and the proper tools and machinery.
Although rarely used for inside water piping today, there are still some old water
mains feeding homes outside. If your water pressure is low in your home even though
your pipes are copper or plastic, it could be that you have one of these old water
Copper has been prevalent for the last several decades. Originally thought to last
the life of the structure, we have found out otherwise over time. A lot depends
on the corrosive minerals and acidity of the water and the rest primarily on the
wall-thickness of the tubing.
Copper comes in 3 wall-thicknesses, the thickest being type K copper. Due to its
high cost and difficulty in cutting and soldering, it is very rarely used in homes.
It’s typically used for special circumstances requiring more durability in
commercial and industrial applications.
Type L copper is very popular, being the “mid-wall” thickness and found
in a lot of homes. Finally is type M copper which was also used a lot for water
piping. This is the thinnest of the 3 grades, being almost as thin-walled as an
Since copper is expensive, plumbers typically use whatever grade copper is permitted
by code; in some parts of the country that would be type L and in others it would
be type M. As one can imagine, if the water supply source in a particular area is
highly corrosive, the thin-wall type M copper may only last a few years. In other
parts of the country with good quality water, the exact same copper tubing could
last as long as the structure...
Poly Vinyl Chloride is a popular type of white plastic pipe which is primarily used
outside for water mains and irrigation. It is very durable, non-corrosive and inexpensive
and uses special primer and glue (cement) to fuse the pipe and fittings together.
It’s also popular for swimming pool plumbing since it’s impervious to
The proper thickness must be used for domestic water use (schedule 40). Thinner-walled
PVC may be used for certain irrigation lines where not under high pressure. It should
not be used where exposed to the sun’s ultra violet rays. It is for cold water
use only - never to be used for hot water or for any water piping inside a home
or building. (Schedule 40 PVC Drainage piping is also used in homes and buildings.)
This is another type of plastic pipe which is specially formulated to also handle
hot water lines, although it is not allowed where exposed to sunlight. It is not
as thick-walled as PVC, comparing more to the outside diameter of copper tubing
and is yellowish-almond in color. It also uses its own specially formulated cement
and primer to fuse pipes and fittings together. Since it’s relatively inexpensive
and can carry hot water as well as cold, it can be used for water piping a home
in certain parts of the country, but not very often. This is due to its rigidity,
thin walls and brittle nature. This means more fittings are required to get around
where it needs to go and more labor to assemble. It also means being extra careful
around the pipes during and after installation to avoid breakage. For obvious reasons,
it is used more by do-it-yourselfers than plumbers and again, is not permitted in
Pex pipe (www.pexinfo.com):
PEX (or crosslinked polyethylene) has several advantages over metal
pipe (copper, iron, lead) or rigid plastic pipe (PVC, CPVC, ABS) systems. It’s
flexible, resistant to scale and chlorine, doesn't corrode or develop pinholes,
is faster to install than metal or rigid plastic, and has fewer connections and
fittings to impede flow.
Pex has become the piping of choice for plumbers in recent years for a variety of
- Flexibilty - Pex is super flexible and hard to kink. This means
it’s great for repipe jobs since it can be “fished around” through
difficult areas thus reducing fittings, labor and lateral damage.
- Fewer joints - Naturally, fewer joints equates to less flow restrictions,
less possibility for leaks and reduced installation costs.
- No glue, primer or cement - Plumbers and homeowners alike enjoy
the “odor-free” installations. The solvents used with other types of
materials can be very dangerous to inhale and work with, especially in confined,
poorly ventilated areas. This also eliminates solvents from getting inside the pipes
and water system. Instead, Pex uses heavy-duty insert fittings and special crimping
rings for assembly. A specially calibrated tool, or crimper, is used to make up
- Superior material - Pex is safe, corrosion resistant, thick walled
and resilient. No more rust, pinholes or leaks. It out-performs other materials
in assembly, durability and longevity. To learn more visit www.pexinfo.com.
For questions, expert advice, free consultation and the area’s best repiping
company, contact Corona Plumbing