Nothing lasts forever, including home drain pipes. Fortunately, most piping materials function well for decades. What’s important to note is that how long home drain pipes last has a lot to do with what they’re made of.
The following types of drain pipes are most commonly found in residential plumbing systems.
Galvanized Steel Pipes
Galvanized steel pipes are dipped in a protective zinc coating that helps prevent corrosion. These pipes were commonly used prior to the 1960s and can last between 80 and 100 years. Even though they were built to last, galvanized steel pipes will eventually begin to rust, making them less durable than other types. That’s why they’re not used as much today in plumbing installation projects.
Copper pipes are commonly used in plumbing systems and last approximately 70 to 80 years under the right conditions. Among other things, the longevity of copper drain pipes depends on the chemical breakdown of the water that’s being transferred through them. Copper pipes over 50 years old can be susceptible to corrosion and pinhole leaks if the water quality is harsh.
This is an affordable plastic tubing used for water supply lines because it doesn’t leach remnants of rust or corrosion into the water like other types of pipes (galvanized for example) are known to do. PEX has a potential lifespan of over 100 years.
Most residential properties had cast iron sewer pipes until about the mid to late 1980s before PVC came on the market. If unseen problems don’t occur (often due to overuse), cast iron can last for 75 years or more.
PVC drain pipes are known to last between 25to 40 years, however, with recent advancements, they could possibly last as long as 70 years or more. While PVC pipes don’t last as long as metal versions, they’re a good choice for homeowners because they don’t rust or corrode.
If your home is more than two or three decades old, there’s a good chance that your plumbing is outdated. Once home drain pipes reach their lifespan, things can go horribly wrong. Knowing what type of pipes you have in your home, and how long they’ve been there, can help a professional plumber perform the appropriate maintenance on your plumbing system.