A fixer-upper is a lot of fun and can be quite rewarding in a financial sense. If you're handy, you might be able to do a lot of the work yourself. Painting, installing new trim, and even tiling the floor are all tasks you can handle on your own with the right tools and perhaps after watching a few videos. But plumbing is a whole other story. Little tasks like replacing a toilet seat or unclogging a drain are manageable, but if the home needs all new pipes, it takes a lot more work. Leaks can cause serious destruction, and plumbing without a license is not legal in most areas. So, you'll want to hire a professional to repipe the fixer-upper. Here are some signs that pipes need replacement.
Water stains on the walls and ceilings.
Often, older homes have pipes made from galvanized steel. The steel initially resists rusting because it has been coated with zinc. However, after decades of use, the zinc may wear off, leaving the steel exposed to water so that it rusts. As with any rust, the material that comprises the pipes slowly becomes thinner. Eventually, a hole may form in the pipe, causing a slow and tiny leak. These leaks won't immediately cause water to gush anywhere, but they might cause staining and small water spots on walls and ceilings. Rust-colored streaks down the walls or brownish spots on the ceilings indicate small leaks. You'll need to have a professional look at the pipes to see if the leaks are caused by rust, deterioration, or a smaller issue.
Sediment in the water.
Try turning on the water at the tap after it has been left unused for a day or two. Is the water rust-colored, or do you notice some small debris in it? This indicates that the pipes are rusting, in which case, they need to be replaced.
Pay attention to whether it's just the hot water taps, or both the cold and hot water taps, that emit rusty water. If it's just the hot water tap, the rust might be from the hot water tank. Replacing the hot water heater is a smaller, less-costly project. If the water is still rusty with a new water tank in place, then repiping should be your next move.
Low water pressure.
Pay attention to the water pressure in the furthest rooms in your house in comparison to the water pressure in the rooms closest to the water main. If the pressure is much lower in the further rooms, this could indicate that there's a lot of mineral scale in the pipes. Not enough water can make it through! This is not necessarily an emergency, like a plumbing leak, but it is a situation you need to deal with since the mineral deposits will only worsen over time. There's no way to remove the deposits, so your plumber will need to repipe the home.
Creaking and crinkling pipes.
Your pipes should not make any noise when the water is running. If you hear cracking, crinkling, banging, or other noises when certain taps are turned on or after you flush the toilet, this could mean that there are mineral deposits in the pipes. As water rushes past the deposits, it puts extra pressure on the pipe walls and causes the pipes to rattle around, making these obnoxious noises. Replacing the pipes will grant you some peace and quiet!
If you have a fixer-upper, there's a good chance it will need new plumbing at some point in the future. Call a plumber if you notice any of the signs above.