The vast majority of early home water systems around the world have traditionally used lead piping. After the risks of lead poisoning were discovered, builders began to transition to galvanized steel piping for domestic and commercial water systems.
Galvanized steel is extremely durable and much safer than lead. However, galvanized steel is not without its shortcomings, which is a major reason why it is no longer used in modern homes.
What Is Galvanized Pipe?
Galvanized pipe is steel pipe that has been dipped in molten zinc, a process that is known as galvanizing. This coating is designed to prevent rust and corrosion from forming on the pipe. Galvanized piping was extremely common in houses built before 1960, but some homebuilders continued to use it until roughly the 1990s.
Galvanized pipes were originally used as a safer alternative to lead piping; but as time went on, it was discovered that galvanized piping would corrode inside after decades of water exposure. While rust is not typically harmful, many pipes were galvanized with impure zinc that contained lead. That lead could leach into your water supply over time.
Why Do They Need to Be Replaced?
Galvanized pipes need to be replaced due to concerns of corrosion and clogging. The rust and metal fragments that are produced as a result of natural degradation of your pipes can end up in your water supply and cause some serious health effects.
Pipes will also become narrower over time and result in a reduced water supply, making simple tasks like taking a shower or filling a washing machine problematic. Severely corroded galvanized pipes can even burst, resulting in severe water damage. The best way to avoid these frustrating and potentially costly problems is to have your galvanized pipes replaced as soon as possible.