I recently purchased a house which has had some of its galvanized water
pipe replaced with black pipe. I know that the work is new because
there are bar codes all over the pipe. I know that this is "not
good" but I would like to have some notion of how bad it is before I
decide whether or not to replace the pipe with galvanized.
a) Is this a code violation (if yes, why?)
b) What is the life expectancy of black pipe?
c) What is the life expectancy of galvanized pipe?
d) Are there any other factors?
Thank you for your time and energy,
The major thing you will have to contend with is rust....lots of it.
You'll get tired of the rusty water long before the pipe gives up the ghost.
Galv iron pipe in water service may last from 20 to 100 yrs, depending
on water conditions.
I would say that use of blk pipe was inexcusable.
: > Greetings,
: > I recently purchased a house which has had some of its
: > pipe replaced with black pipe. I know that the work is new
: > there are bar codes all over the pipe. I know that this is
: > good" but I would like to have some notion of how bad it is
: > decide whether or not to replace the pipe with galvanized.
: > a) Is this a code violation (if yes, why?)
: > b) What is the life expectancy of black pipe?
: > c) What is the life expectancy of galvanized pipe?
: > d) Are there any other factors?
: > Thank you for your time and energy,
: > William
: The major thing you will have to contend with is rust....lots
: You'll get tired of the rusty water long before the pipe gives
up the ghost.
: Galv iron pipe in water service may last from 20 to 100 yrs,
: on water conditions.
: I would say that use of blk pipe was inexcusable.
Probably a cheap effort to get around some other pipe that was in
such bad shape it would have affected the sale. My neighbor in
Chgo used black pipe once becuase it was cheap and he "liked" the
way it stopped leaking on its own if a fitting wasn't quite
Five years later he was losing pressure and the culprit turned
out to the the street ells; they were all filled with rust &
junks. Turn the water off to replace something and he'd have to
contend with rusty water and useless aerators for days at a time.
I doubt it's a health hazard, but if it isn't already, it sure
should be against codes. Black pipe's for gas, not water.
Yes it is a code violation an no one who knows anything about plumbing would
do such a thing. Black pipe is used for gas and *not* water because it
rusts. Black pipe is less expensive.
Which makes me think the previous owner must have done this or hired someone
who did not know what they were doing.
I don't think you're going to have the pipe rust away tomorrow or 5 years
from now even, but I imagine the water coming out of these pipes would be
nasty, especially if water was not run through the pipe for several days.
I wonder what *else* the previous homeowner did or had done? I would check
the house over real good, especially electrical wiring and natural gas
plumbing if you have it. Check venting for natural gas appliances and
fireplace chimney if you have that. Test your smoke detectors to be sure
And I would put it on your list to replace all the black pipe with
galvanized. Might want to install a water filter if it goes to a sink and or
run the water for awhile before using it for cooking or drinking water.
So far as life expectancy, they use black pipe for fire sprinkler systems
and these seem to last. But no one is drinking from these pipes. And when
draining or testing these sprinkler systems, the water is nasty. I wouldn't
" email@example.com" wrote in message
Black pipe is also used in old hot water/radiator systems. In both cases
water is added and left in the system. I think disolved oxygen is a
major cause of rust - if so the available oxygen reacts and the process
ends because new water is not added.
I would replace with copper or maybe plastic, not galvanized.
I don't mean to nit-pick and no offense intended.
I wouldn't use copper as it introduces more corrosion
between dissimilar metals.
Plastic solves that problem, but may introduce another.
If the house is older than roughly 1965, there is a good
chance that the cold water piping was used as an equipment ground
(switch/fixture boxes in kitchen/bath, for example).
Though such grounding means wouldn't be allowed today,
replacing existing piping carries the risk of inadvertently
breaking protective grounds.
If you replace the entire piping system with copper, the galvanic
action problem should not rear its head. If just replacing parts, it
could be a problem. If you replace black pipe with plastic, you can
use CPVC or PEX on hot or cold lines. Do not use PVC on in house piping
per International Residential Building Code P2904.5. PVC is allowed
for the service line from the street to the house. Note: Codes in your
area may vary, consult your local building inspector.
Others addressed the basic questions so I'll ask another--what is it
tied into and how old is the house/existing plumbing?
If they replaced _sections_ of existing galvanized because it was
failing, in all likelihood any other galvanized is also on the verge as
well if it hadn't been done already. I'd think it worth seriously
considering whether the full job shouldn't be done at the time of doing
the black replacement rather than just replacing the newer joints of
That would include the possible use of galvanized throughout including
things like the feeds to the showers, lavatories, etc., that could have
leaks develop "any day now" if they're the same age as the replaced.
Just my (cheerful) $0.02, ... :)
Good point! Also in some areas, "crud" will build up inside the pipes due
to the water for the area. This can reduce the water flow over time. So you
look inside a 3/4" pipe and there is 1/4" for the water to flow!
Also old hot water heaters can release crud into the hot water pipes,
clogging the valves. Sometimes the pipes can be "back flushed" to solve
First I would like to say thank you all very much.
It sounds like
a) if the water is not used I might have to run the faucet to flush the
b) although it is against code, there is no health danger
c) I will have to replace the black pipe early
I plan on leaving the black pipe until it start to fail and then
replacing the system with copper. In the meantime I will paint the
exterior of the pipe. I plan to paint the gas pipe yellow, the hot
water red, and the cold water blue. I am sure someone will tell me
that I should not wait but if the pipe actually takes 7 or 8 years to
fail I would rather have my money invested elsewhere in the meantime.
The value of the house will not increase by the cost of the work.
Answers to some questions:
a) The galvanized pipes are restricted but water pressure appears
b) The house was built in the late 1800's. I do not know when the
plumbing was last updated but there are lead drain pipes and lead
joints used for the water pipes so I imagine it is quite old.
Hope this helps,
If it takes 7 years to start leaking and it has already been there it
may only last 6 months. If you don't know how old the black pipe is, I
would not wait to replace it
If it springs a big leak, will the water damage walls, carpets,
furniture, floors, electric panesl, etc? Then don't wait. The threads
are the thinnest part of the pipe, if it fails there the pipe could
come apart and the leak will be VERY big. Could cause expensive
Don't wait any longer than you have to.
Did you have the home inspected before you bought it? If you did, did
the inspector pick up on that black iron piping?
Wouldn't suprise me if your answers were "yes" and "no" respectively.
There are a more dummies bearing the credentials of home inspectors than
there are knowledgeable persons doing a good job for what they are
charging trusting home buyers for.
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