Before I started writing, I worked for 6 plus years in the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC business. I was primarily an HVAC installer but also worked as a plumber and electrician. Now I'm a copywriter, focusing on home improvement content and guides.
What To Expect When Repiping A House (We Have The Answer)
Your home is comprised of many different components, all of which play an essential role in how it functions. One of the most critical parts of your home that often goes unnoticed is the plumbing system. The pipes that make up a plumbing system go bad and need to be repiped from time to time.
Repiping a home is a massive undertaking, and you should expect your world to be turned upside down. Repiping the plumbing system in your home is usually a whole-house project because your plumbing pipes are everywhere. If your entire house is being repiped, you should find somewhere to live while the project progresses.
Because of the size and scope of a repiping project, staying in your home while work is ongoing is challenging. Repiping includes work in the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room, and basement, as well as anywhere that the plumbers need to access. In this article, I’ll go into more detail about what to expect when repiping a house and what it entails.
Table of Contents
- What to Expect When Repiping a House
- Can I Live in My House While It’s Being Repiped?
- What are the Components of a Plumbing System?
- What Areas of the House Will be Affected?
- How to Know If My House Needs to be Repiped
- How Long Does a House Repiping Take?
- How Much Does A House Repiping Cost?
- Related Questions
- Final Thoughts
What to Expect When Repiping a House
Repiping a house is a massive undertaking, and your home will become a construction zone in a hurry. Repiping your plumbing system means accessing your existing pipes, examining them, and replacing the faulty ones. While some of the lines are exposed in unfinished parts of your basement or under cabinets, many of them won’t be.
Many of your plumbing pipes are behind walls covered in panel wood or drywall. Other plumbing pipes are in your attic or above the ceiling if you have a two-story home. The only way to access the hidden pipes is to tear away the ceiling and wall hiding them. This means that you’ll have drywall to replace, construction to repair, and a ton of cleaning to do.
Can I Live in My House While It’s Being Repiped?
Depending on who your plumbing contractor is, there’s a chance that you can stay in your home while it’s being repiped. If your house will allow it, there’s a chance that your repiping can be done one room at a time. While living in a home during a repiping project will be highly inconvenient, it is possible.
However, it’s important to note that doing things this way will take longer and probably cost more. Allowing your plumber full and unrestricted access to your home will speed things along and save you money.
What are the Components of a Plumbing System?
Your plumbing system is more than just the parts that you can see. It’s a massive system that stretches throughout your home and encompasses nearly every aspect of it.
Wherever you have running water in your home, there’s a water line that carries water from your water main to its destination. Your kitchen, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and outdoor spigots all have water lines running to them. Many of them have at least two and sometimes three pipes. One carries cold water, one carries hot water, and, where applicable, one carries soft water.
Your drain lines are responsible for keeping your house from flooding. Every sink, toilet, tub, and washer in your home has a drain line connected to it. Drain lines usually run with water lines behind walls and concealed places because they’re eyesores.
Vent pipes usually run vertically through your roof and are responsible for expelling sewage gases from within your home. There might only be one or two vent pipes sticking through your roof, but it branches off and attaches to wherever there is a drain in your house. Vent pipes are wide-reaching and often run through the attic of your home.
It isn’t required that you replace your plumbing fixtures when you repipe a home, but many people decide to. It only makes sense that while the plumbers are at your home and tearing it apart, they update your fixtures.
What Areas of the House Will be Affected?
In almost every case, your entire house will be affected by a plumbing repipe. You have pipes running inside, under, and above most of the rooms in your home. A plumber will need to have access to every one of them to check on their status.
The only areas that have a chance of not being affected are the bedrooms and living or dining room if there isn’t any plumbing above them. In two-story houses, it’s common practice for plumbing pipes to run above these rooms, which means that no room in your home will be spared.
How to Know If My House Needs to be Repiped
If you’re worried that your house needs to be repiped, here are some ways to know for sure.
Your House is More Than Fifty Years Old
The plumbing systems in most homes aren’t designed to last longer than 50 to 70 years at the most. Modern plumbing systems are meant to last a lifetime, but that wasn’t the case in houses built over half a century ago. Plumbing pipes and fixtures used before 1970 are now being found to be unreliable and often have leaks.
Having said that, just because your house is old doesn’t automatically mean it has plumbing problems. It simply means that it’s more likely to have them soon if it doesn’t already.
You Have Dripping or Running Water in Your House
If you’ve noticed dripping or running water in your home, then you likely need some repiping to be done. Dripping and running water can lead to water damage and mold if left unattended. Each of these things can lead to problems much more expensive than repiping your home.
Your house has Lead, Steel, or Galvanized Pipes.
The current material of your plumbing system is also a big indicator of whether or not you need to repipe your home. Materials such as lead, steel, and galvanized steel were great products 50 to 100 years ago, but the test of time is showing that they’re dangerous or unreliable. Lead is now linked to a number of health conditions and can even lead to death if it gets into your water.
Stell and galvanized pipes aren’t necessarily dangerous, but they’re prone to corrosion. When these pipes corrode, they do it from the inside out. This means that tiny pieces of the insides of your pipes are breaking off as water is running through them. These pieces present a health risk and also tend to clog your water lines.
Have It Professionally Inspected
If you have any of the above conditions with your plumbing system, you should have it inspected by a plumbing inspector. Having your home inspected is the only way to know for sure if your house needs to be repiped or not.
How Long Does a House Repiping Take?
Repiping a house can take anywhere from several days to several weeks. The process begins by having your home inspected and any damage assessed. If you and your plumbing contractor decide to move forward with a whole-house repiping, the project will take anywhere from two days to two weeks. It all depends on how big your house is and how much of the piping needs to be repaired or replaced.
Smaller houses with only one kitchen and one bathroom can be repiped in several days. Larger houses with multiple stories, bathrooms, plus a kitchen and laundry room take closer to two weeks.
How Much Does A House Repiping Cost?
Repiping a house not only takes a long time, but it also takes a chunk of money. On average, repiping a house can cost anywhere between $2,000 and $10,000. The total cost of your project depends on how long the work takes and what replacement parts you’re using. Here’s a breakdown of what different plumbing pipes currently cost.
The current pex piping cost is around $.50 per linear foot. This is the cheapest type of water pipe used in plumbing systems, but it’s also one of the best. Pex pipe is more flexible and malleable than other types of pipe, and it’s great for tight spaces. It’s the preferred water line pipe for most plumbers.
PVC pipe is at an all-time high in regards to cost. The current cost, depending on the diameter, is $2.50 per foot. Most of the plumbing pipes in your home will be anywhere from 1 1/2 inches to 3 inches in diameter. The larger the pipe, the more expensive it is.
Copper is also at an all-time high in regards to cost per foot. The current price is $3 per foot, which is one of the main reasons people opt to have pex pipe installed instead of copper. The copper pipe also takes longer to install than pex does, and it’s used less now than ever.
Do I need to repipe my whole house because of one or two leaks?
Wherever possible, plumbers will try to limit the amount of repiping and repairs that they have to do. If it’s possible to simply fix the leaks and move on with life, they will do that. A repair turns into a repipe when the plumber notices that the rest of your pipes are at risk of leaking or bursting. If that’s the case, they will advise you to do a whole house repipe.
Do I need to replace my plumbing fixtures as well?
If you’re happy with your current plumbing fixtures, there’s no reason why you have to replace them. Plumbing fixtures only need to be replaced if they’re damaged or if you want to update them.
Repiping a house is a serious project that will be all-consuming while ongoing. The key to a smooth repiping project is to hire the right plumber for the job. Experience, honesty, and integrity are things that a good plumber should have. If you want your project to go smoothly, you should take time to make sure you have the right people doing the work.
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