Retrofitting Drain Pipes: When to do it | Day & Night

Old Plumbing System Pipes | Day & Night Air

It is relatively easy to tell if your roof, paint, or flooring are past their prime. They are easily visible and make it pretty apparent when they need replacing. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with your pipes. Much of your home’s plumbing is hidden in the walls or under the yard or foundation.

Everything has a useful life expectancy, and that includes your plumbing. If allowed to deteriorate, you’ll eventually experience leaks of water or possibly raw sewage into your home, causing hundreds or even thousands in damage and cleanup. Depending on the age of your house, your pipes may be harmful to your health. The good news is that there are some things you can look for to determine if you should consider old pipes retrofitting without cutting open the walls and floors. 

The Age of Your Pipes

The type of house plumbing you have can give you an idea of how long you can expect it to last. If you don’t have a home inspection report to go by, talk to one of our certified plumbers about assessing the plumbing on your Phoenix area home. The following guidelines can help you get an idea of the typical lifespan:

  • Supply pipes
    • Brass - 80-100 years
    • Copper - 70-80 years
    • Galvanized steel - 80-100 years
  • Drain lines
    • Cast iron - 80-100 years
    • PVC - 25-40 years

You don’t necessarily need to worry if they are older than the expected lifespan. Other factors can influence the useful life of your plumbing. Well-maintained plumbing may last much longer than others, even if it is the original plumbing. On the other hand, hard water can cause buildup that ages pipes more quickly.

Risky Materials

Two types of materials should be replaced immediately, regardless of age; if your Phoenix area home was built in the early 1900s, you might have lead pipes. The good news is that they can last up to 100 years. The bad news is that the lead can leach into your drinking water, posing a severe health risk. 

Polybutylene pipes were installed in approximately 6-10 million homes from 1978 until 1995. They were made from a low-cost plastic resin that was thought to be the next big thing for replacing costly copper pipes. Unfortunately, they are extremely prone to deterioration. They can flake and crack from oxidants like chlorine found in most water. 

Warning Signs

It doesn’t take a flooded room to tell that your pipes fail if you take the time to look. At least once a year, take the time to check all exposed pipes for the telltale signs of stress, deterioration, or failure. Check attics, basements, utility rooms, under cabinets, and crawl spaces. If you see any of the following, call our team at Day & Night Plumbing:

  • Discoloration
  • Stains
  • Dimpling
  • Pimples
  • Flaking
  • Corrosion

Look at the material around and under the pipes, as well. Do you notice bloating, peeling, sponginess, mold, or mildew? That could indicate you have a leak. Based on the age of your plumbing, a small leak may be an indicator of what is to come with the rest of the pipes. 

Notice the quality of the water that comes out of your faucets. Does the water look brown? Is there sediment or solid flecks in it? If your water is cloudy, discolored, or contains sediment, you may have rusted and deteriorated pipes that need replacing. 

Best Times For Pipe Retrofitting

When you call our team at Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing  to examine your plumbing system in Phoenix, you can count on us to advise whether you need to replace your pipes or not. We’ll work with you to determine what can be repaired, what should be replaced, and when. If repiping is in your future, planning when to retrofit plumbing can save you time and money.

Replace Only Exposed Pipe

If your budget requires that you replace your pipes in phases, or if you just aren’t ready to undergo a house-wide retrofitting, you can opt to replace only the accessible pipes. This way, you don’t have to tear out plaster, sheetrock, paneling, or other wall materials to access them. Even though it is still a significant undertaking, choosing to retrofit pipes that aren’t obscured by walls such as those in crawl spaces, attics, utility rooms, or basements is much easier and more straightforward for the plumber to reach. By eliminating the demolition required for hidden pipes, you reduce the overall labor costs and timeline. 

Replace Your Plumbing When You Renovate

If you have upcoming renovations planned, that can be the ideal time to have a thorough inspection of your previously hidden plumbing. Pipes that were obscured by walls, floors, tile, or other materials in bathrooms or kitchens may be easily assessed and replaced once they are revealed. If your plumber finds signs of wear, age, or deterioration, you don’t have the added expense of cutting into walls and restoring them, as those costs are already included in the renovation budget. Even if you don’t see any problems, consider the pipes’ overall age when deciding whether to take advantage of the exposed areas to replace your aging plumbing. 


If you must replace supply pipes inside walls and you don’t have a renovation planned, you may still have a cost-saving option in the form of material choice. Cross-linked polyethylene, PEX for short, is a type of flexible plastic hose that can limit the amount of demolition necessary in pipe retrofitting. The flexible pipe can be fed into the walls, similar to how electricians string wire behind existing walls. Its use is still relatively new in the US for replacing traditional copper or galvanized pipe.  

Currently, there is widespread acceptance of PEX for meeting building codes in most places. It has a 25-year warranty and is drastically cheaper than copper pipes. Compare the cost of copper pipes in a 1,500 square foot home at $8,000 to $10,000 with the same size house using PEX, and the price drops to between $4,000 to $6,000. Part of the cost savings is raw materials, and part is labor made unnecessary by the flexible material. 

Let Day & Night Help You Decide If It Is Time To Retrofit Your Pipes

For over 42 years, our friends and neighbors in the Valley have depended on us for quick response, excellent service, and honest input on their plumbing needs. We are well-known as a trusted resource for Phoenix-area homeowners, whether you are planning, maintaining, troubleshooting, or experiencing an emergency situation with your home. Our highly experienced team of tradespeople is not just licensed and certified, but they continue to participate in the latest training on emerging tools, materials, and techniques to provide the highest levels of service to our customers. 

If you have an existing home and need help determining the type of plumbing you have, schedule an appointment for our team to do an inspection. When you have some of the warning signs of impending trouble, schedule an appointment so that our team can come out and evaluate your pipes. Investing in preventive maintenance and repairs now can prevent costly damage in the future. For more information, contact us today or give us a call to schedule an appointment.


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