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My Old House: Do I Need to Replace My Vintage Plumbing?

When to Restore vs. When to Replace

Though incorporated in 1977, Rancho Cucamonga and the surrounding area have been a thriving community in the Inland Empire for over a century. Consequently, many of our residents live in homes constructed pre-1970. With the skyrocketing housing market, many new people are moving into the area and looking to remodel. Remodeling can be tricky when you have an older home, especially if your home was built mid-twentieth century.

Some mid-century homes are in great shape, while others need extensive work. How do you know what to replace or what to restore? This question becomes even more important when considering extensive projects, like repairing or replacing your home's plumbing system. While installing all new piping sounds like a good idea, it's not always necessary. Below we provide guidance on making this big decision.

What Is Repiping?

Repiping is a big job. It often involves extensive demolition to access the pipes that are being replaced. When repiping a whole house, this project can cost well over $10,000, depending on the size of your home. As a result, most people only replumb sections of their homes at a time. For example, if your home has old plumbing but doesn't need urgent repiping, you may choose only to repipe the kitchen or bathroom you are remodeling and not the entire house.

It's also important to remember that all home remodeling projects, including repiping, will require permits. Review our blog to learn more about remodeling plumbing permits.

What You Should Ask Yourself Before Repiping

Before moving forward with repiping, the first thing you should ask yourself is whether repiping is actually necessary. To answer this question, you should schedule a plumbing inspection with one of the experienced plumbers at All City Plumbing. During your inspection, our plumbers will review your entire plumbing system, taking note of any issues and the overall condition of your pipes. Your plumber will also discuss your remodeling goals and how your existing plumbing system impacts them.

Other things to consider when deciding whether or not to repipe your vintage home:

  • Do I have room in my budget for repiping?
  • Do I have room in my remodel timeline for repiping?
  • Will I need to lay new piping as well as replace existing lines?
  • Am I having any plumbing issues, such as frequent clogs, leaks, or discolored water?
  • Are my existing pipes made from a dangerous material, such as lead?

You will also want to consider what plumbing appliances you currently have, any new appliances you plan to install, and their requirements.

What About Homes That Are 100+ Years Old?

Though most homes in the area were built post-1950, there are still quite a few historic homes and homes built in the '20s, '30s, and '40s. These homes can be incredibly charming but pose some difficulties for remodeling, especially when it comes to their plumbing systems. Whether you are looking to overhaul and modernize your property completely or you want to restore your vintage home, you must take a good look at your plumbing system before beginning.

Most plumbing is designed to last for decades and, in some cases, can last for 80, 90, or even 100 years. However, most homes get remodeled every 20 years or so. Consequently, even if your home was originally constructed before 1950, your plumbing system is unlikely to be original to the house. This is why you shouldn't assume your home needs to be repiped and instead should speak with one of our plumbers first.

Do I Have Lead Pipes?

Though relatively uncommon in California, lead pipes or pipes installed with lead solder are occasionally found in older homes. If your home has lead pipes, they should be replaced by a professional plumber as they pose a serious health risk and can contaminate your drinking water. Schedule an inspection with All City Plumbing to determine if you have lead plumbing in your home.

Will I Need to Replace My Sewer Line Too?

Even though more modern homes typically utilize PVC piping for their sewer lines, even older materials, like cast iron or clay, can last a century. Because of this, while your older home may no longer have its original piping, there is a good chance it has its original sewer line. If your home has an old cast iron or clay sewer line, it may still be functional.

Before replacing your sewer line, schedule a video camera sewer line inspection with All City Plumbing. With a camera inspection, we can tell you, in real-time, the exact condition of your sewer line. We will also discuss how you can preserve your current line (such as through regular sewer line cleaning or hydrojetting) or guide you in replacing it if necessary.


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