Rusted galvanized pipes - how bad is it?

Sugaluv40March 8, 2011

My wife and I recently purchased an older (1950's) house. We knew it was going to be a project going in -- but to what extent we couldn't be sure.

I got the (city) water turned on today and ran the tub, shower, and faucets. I expected some rust from the old plumbing, but what I saw exceeded my expectations. After 5 full minutes running the tub and kitchen sink, both were still running extremely red/brown. I've worked with old houses before and usually it clears up after a few minutes, haven't seen this much buildup before. Pressure to both was still very strong.

I posted pictures of the kitchen sink and bathroom tub on my blog, see the link below.

Any advice? I'm all for trying not to replace the existing pipes, but if they're so far gone it is necessary, I'll get the work done (Copper, PEX, PVC?) as needed. Appreciate any opinions from the forum. Thank you in advance.

Here is a link that might be useful: Water Pictures - My Blog

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Sugaluv40

Well, stop the presses. Just ran the water again, and water came out clear. It had been a long time since the water had run there, guess the rust buildup was just pretty extensive and took a lot to clear it out.

I'm relieved a bit now, but I know obviously those pipes will need replacing at one point or another. Just a question of whether to do it now or hold off a while. Still welcome any input!

Thank you...

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 12:03AM
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nod702

A lot of the rusty water could have been coming from the water heater.Older water heaters are bad about rusting if not used for long periods.Usually the first thing i do is drain the water heater and then flush the lines.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 4:45AM
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Sugaluv40

Nod, yes, thank you, and I think you're right about the water heater. Before turning on the water for the 2nd time, I did drain the water heater, so I think this was definitely a big part of it.

Thanks for the suggestion.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 11:44AM
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brickeyee

The problem is not the color of the water but the closing off of the water lines from corrosion and scale.

The hot water lines are more vulnerable, but old galvanized COLD water line are often baldy clogged.

Turning on multiple faucets on the am,e line often show a significant drop in pressure from the corrosion and scale.

The only fix is replacing the lines.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 7:24PM
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baltomom_gw

We had terrible rust in the water when we moved into our new (old) house, and it disappeared when we replaced the hot water heater. We still have a few galvanized pipes in one bathroom, and whenever we turn on the hot water, rusty water gushes forth for a minute or two, and then it turns clear. I know we will have to replace those pipes one day, but I don't want to start ripping out plaster walls just yet. Our house was built in the 1930s. All the rest of our pipes have been replaced with copper.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 6:32PM
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brickeyee

"I know we will have to replace those pipes one day, but I don't want to start ripping out plaster walls just yet. Our house was built in the 1930s. All the rest of our pipes have been replaced with copper."

You can pull PEX with minimal wall damage, and f you have access form below even use type L copper, again with minimal wall damage.

plumbers are like electricians, most want to get in and out as quickly as possible since repair is NOT their problem.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 8:34AM
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gwilson2

Use Copper, the inside diameter is larger than the equivalent pex lines. If you run Pex, you can run 3/4 lines to your fixtures to keep good pressure to them. Make sure you use brass fittings for your pex pipe with copper crimp rings.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 12:32AM
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