The problem of replacing the water system is usually found in the so-called old construction. A dozen or so years ago the basic material in these installations were steel and cast iron.
Steel (and cast iron) pipes have very high mechanical strength, are characterized by resistance to high temperatures and relatively low thermal expansion. Although the disadvantage of these installations was quite a heavy weight and a susceptibility to corrosion, they were the cheapest and easily available at one time.
Currently, in many respects, they give way to other systems, from materials such as:
PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride),
PE polyethylene (PE-LD soft and PE-HD hard),
PE-X (cross-linked polyethylene),
layered pipes (combination of various materials and spacers, eg PEX-Al-PEX).
Properly made and operated steel and cast iron installations could be useful for decades. However, the practice shows that, apart from assembly errors, the quality of water is also often not suitable. This leads to corrosion and overgrowth of pipes with stones and rust, resulting in a reduction of the pipe cross-section and lowering the water pressure in the water system. In turn, corroded or “overgrown” approaches and sewer risers are most often the cause of leaks and obstructions leading to flooding.
Overview of plumbing installations
Every day we do not bother with a water supply installation. However, there are four moments when we should decide to review the installation:
purchase of a house or flat,
the planned renovation of a flat or a house,
noticeable drop in water pressure in the installation.
Buying an old apartment or house
When deciding to buy a used flat (house), we must evaluate it not only on the construction (building) side. It is equally important to determine the degree of wear of plumbing – especially if it is made in steel and cast iron. As far as the external assessment is quite easy to perform, it is best to ask a professional to assess the internal condition. He should check if the pipes have narrowed cross-sections , if so, to what extent they can be refined chemically or mechanically. If the assessment of the installation is negative, we should decide to replace it.
Similar rules should apply when planning a general renovation of a flat or house. If we are dealing with plumbing installations made of steel and cast iron (at present they are slightly outdated technologies), we must carefully assess their condition and possibly decide to replace it.
We will avoid later problems with the faulty installation after the refurbishment.
In the event of a failure, we are in a much worse situation than in the previous ones. When buying or planning a flat renovation, we have time to evaluate, plan the work and choose the contractor. If the failure results from the use of the installation, unfortunately, we should decide to replace it. The failure caused by assembly errors or inadvertent (eg unintentional damage to the pipe during drilling of holes) is not so expensive, although equally burdensome for the user.
Pressure drop in the water system
If we observe a significant drop in pressure during a long period of time, we need to consider the reasons for this. Most often this applies to steel pipes, where as a result of the action of hard water, a stone mixed with rust is formed. If the attempts to unblock the pipe are not successful (sometimes it’s worth a try!), It should be replaced.