Sign up for Flo News &
Get 10% off your first order!

Stay up to date with the latest water & energy saving tips for your home,
get exclusive discounts and be the first to hear about new products.

{{mc.FormEntity.errorMessage}} Email must be valid
Thanks! You've successfully signed up.
Use this code to unlock 10% off your first order: flonews10

How to Maintain Your Old Pipes

Fix May 21, 2018
Not Available Image

Most homeowners understand the extra care that goes into owning an older home. It requires continual maintenance and upkeep — especially when it comes to the plumbing. If you’re looking to avoid tearing up the walls and floors and replumbing the whole house, here are a few steps you can take to extend the lifespan of those decades-old pipes.

1. Invest in a leak detection system

Individual water monitors are handy for sensing leaks near your washing machine or kitchen sink, but when it comes to full home protection you’ll want a comprehensive leak detection system like Flo. It’s ingenious how it works — by extracting and analyzing enormous amounts of data from your home’s plumbing system so it knows if your pipes are acting irregularly and can detect a leak. It’s the smartest way to keep a watchful eye on your old pipes.

2. Check for warning signs

If your home is more than fifty years old, check in with your pipes regularly. In addition to looking for obvious signs of water damage around your home (discoloration, water stains, warping) you’ll also want to check out any exposed pipes, such as main water lines in your basement or under your kitchen sink. Look for signs of corrosion, dimpling or flaking. If your water pressure is weaker than usual (again, Flo will automatically detect this for you) that’s a sign there could be some nasty buildup inside the pipes or a leak in the system. If your water runs a yellow-orange color after being away from the house for a period of time, or there’s a bad smell coming from your pipes, those are other clear indicators that something’s gone awry.

3. Clear your pipes regularly

Clogged pipes are a frequent problem in older homes, and while unclogging them will help extend their lifespan, there are a variety of ways to do this. Tenants in old buildings are no stranger to chemical drain cleaners like Drano or Liquid-Plumr. However, the high acidity levels can be harsh on old metal pipes and even hasten their deterioration.

For minor clogs we suggest using a homemade baking soda and vinegar mix or a store-bought enzyme treatment on all your sinks and showers about once a month. Afterward, rinse thoroughly with hot water. It will keep your pipes relatively clean and help prevent buildup.

If you have a serious clog in the house, an experienced plumber is your safest bet. Plenty of people snake their own drains (and in general, it’s never a bad idea to learn how to detach and clean your P-trap yourself), but if your pipes are very old galvanized steel, an improperly sized snake or auger can permanently damage them. Hydrojetting is another option, which sends a powerful stream of water through your pipes, but that’s a job for a professional plumber.

4. Be mindful of what you put down the drain

Don’t pour grease or oils down the drain — this goes for cooking grease in the kitchen sink as well as body oils in the shower. Use filters and screens over your drains to prevent particles from passing through and sticking to the inside of the pipe.

5. Just replace them

If your pipes are nuisance that require constant patching and repair, don’t prolong their suffering. If they’re made of lead (poisonous, although city water is almost always treated to avoid leaching) or polybutylene (very high rates of failure and degeneration) they should have already been replaced. In general, galvanized steel pipes last 20-50 years, brass lasts 40-70, copper lasts over 50, cast iron lasts 75-100, and PVC can last over a 100 years if it’s not exposed to direct sunlight. Use these numbers as benchmarks when assessing if your pipes need replacement, but as always, get a second opinion from an expert before embarking on a full home replumbing.

See More from Flo

How to Prep Your Home for the Summer Months
by Lindsay Cutler
July 9, 2018
Summer is already in full swing but there’s still plenty you can do to get your home prepared for the summer heat. If you’re looking to stay cool, save mone...
Where is Your Water Main and How Does it Work?
by Lindsay Cutler
May 15, 2018
Any talk of a home water main is enough to send some homeowners into a tailspin. Where is it located? How do you work it? Shouldn’t I call the plumber for thi...
5 Renovations That Add Significant Value to Your Home
by Flo
June 7, 2018
It’s a seller’s market for housing in the US. As new construction halts and costs rise for materials and labor, home buyers are looking to existing houses t...