Some older homes still have galvanized and brass piping which runs through the house distributing water to the kitchen and bathrooms.
Although the brass and galvanized pipe wall thickness is greater than the copper pipe and PEX tubing we use today, that older pipe had thread cut onto the ends so that it could be turned into fittings. The threading process thinned the pipe wall and today when we find brass or galvanized leaking pipes, it is generally at these threads.
Galvanized water piping has the unique problem of becoming clogged with scale that forms like a rock on the pipe wall and with time, closes down the diameter of the pipe and drastically diminishes the flow of water through the pipe. Sections of this piping can be replaced as it shows leaks or lack of flow but generally if there is a problem in one area it is an indication of a larger problem and a re-pipe may be required.
Today we use L type copper pipe or Plumb PEX plastic tubing to run new or repair water lines. Copper tubing is not without leaking issues and as the piping gets older it is more prone to leaking.
Pin hole leaks can occur in the pipe or in the fitting wall or at a threaded or soldered joint. Copper piping with leaks could be from thinner walled pipe initially used in the construction of the house, faulty pipe with an area of thinner wall, or old pipe where the pipe wall has become eroded from years of water running through it.
As essential as water is to our survival it can be destructive, and not always easy to harness. Our water is acidic and full of minerals that both eats at the soft metals (brass and copper) that we use to contain it and builds up scale that fouls all components of a plumbing system.
Pipe leaks also occur when a pipe freezes, the frozen water expands and will separate fittings and split pipes.
The human factor can also contribute to leaking pipes. Homeowners, contractors, and handymen can accidentally cut through, or puncture a water or heating line causing a leak. You should know that a nail through a pipe when hanging a picture or installing trim may not leak immediately, but years later when the nail rusts away, look out.
Rest assured, we can repair all of these leaks by simply replacing a fitting or a small section of pipe or completing a full re-pipe of the water piping in your home.
Soil, Drain, and Vent Piping:
Materials used in yester year were made from cast iron, galvanized steel, and copper.
Today we still use cast iron, in certain circumstances, and schedule #40 PVC plastic pipe and fittings. Galvanized piping is no longer used for drain piping because scale and debris too easily builds up on the pipe walls and clogs the drain flow, and the threaded portion of the pipe is thin walled and can wear through and leak or even break away from the pipe it is connected to. Copper pipe is no longer used because it is too expensive and it also could wear through and leak.
The PVC plastic pipe and fittings that we use today in new homes, remodeling projects, and to replace leaking galvanized, cast iron, and copper lines has an extremely smooth interior pipe wall so scaling and buildup on the pipe walls causing clogs is less likely. Joints at fittings have to be primed clean and glued with product specifically made for the PVC. With properly pitched pipe, properly supported, and installed with properly primed and glued fittings, the PVC piping is virtually without leaking problems. As with water piping above, there is the human factor and PVC pipe and fittings can be subject to accidental cut or puncture.
Cast iron piping and fittings can still be used when making a repair between sections of existing cast iron or on projects where soil piping will be buried under a slab. Cast iron may also be used as the riser piping to a bathroom where the pipe would run in a wall in the living space of the home. The cast iron piping is quieter in the wall than PVC when water is falling through it to the lowest runoff point.
Our repair work on soil, waste, and vent piping usually involves pipe wall or fittings which have failed and are leaking. Our technicians can make a good determination as to whether a small piece of the faulty piping needs to be replaced or if a larger re-pipe might be necessary.
A completely blocked pipe might be another reason to replace a piece of soil or drain piping. Even PVC piping can become so blocked that replacement of the piping is more economical than trying to clear the line. Sometimes the pitch of the pipe is not enough and replacing it with properly pitched pipe will cure chronic blockages.
Our work might also involve strategically installing clean-out fittings for pipe snake access where they were not installed with the original piping.
Natural and propane gas piping:
Whether you smell gas in your home or just want peace of mind that your gas piping system is secure, we can place the piping under a pressure leak test.
When we perform a pressure leak test we turn off the gas to the piping as well as the isolation gas valves at the gas use appliances. We pump air into the piping, lock off the piping at 4.5 psi, and use a highly sensitive gauge to make sure that the pressure does not drop. No drop on pressure means no leaks, if the pressure drops even the smallest amount then there is a leak and the investigation begins.
We use a bubbling gas and air leak detector solution which we apply to the pipe joints, when there is a leak the solution creates a stream of bubbles. To repair a gas piping leak we have to take the piping apart usually from one end of the run or branch to the leaking joint or fitting, apply new and improved thread sealing compound and then put the piping back together.
Above is an example of aged galvanized piping that can corrode, this should be addressed immediately.
Most of the gas leaks we find in homes are at the old tee handle valves which have stem seals that dry out and leak or in older piping where thread sealant has hardened and cracked. Once a leaking gas piping system has been detected it must be fixed so that it’s leak tight or the gas must remain turned off. There is too much liability in turning a known leaking gas piping system back on, no matter how small the leak. Any addition or re-piping of the gas piping system requires a plumbing permit and inspection by the local plumbing or building inspector.
If National Grid detects a leak on your household gas piping they will turn off the gas to your home and lock the valve. They will require that a plumber repair all gas leaks and place the gas piping under a pressure test to be witnessed by the local municipality. Only with a written “passed pressure leak test” will they open the gas service to the house. If you heat your home with gas, a leak found in the winter could be a big inconvenience. It is best to be proactive and have your gas piping tested once the heating season is over.