Old copper pipes can cause major water damage

Articles on housing, plumbing repairs, energy, renovation and single-family homes, produced by Hausoturva.

Old copper pipes can cause major water damage

Articles on housing, plumbing repairs, energy, renovation and single-family homes, produced by Hausoturva.

In the past decades, copper plumbing pipes have been the most common material used for plumbing. Along with gold and silver, copper is one of the first metals used by man. The first copper water pipes were used in Egypt thousands of years ago. In the Nordic countries, copper tubes were first used in installations in the 1940s and their quality was considered durable, long-lasting and easy to maintain. The generalisation to plumbing and heating systems occurred in the 1970s. Later, recycled copper pipes made in Eastern Europe were used for old water pipes, which were cheap to buy. The quality of these pipes has not been consistent. Later, contaminants were also found in the pipes, causing weak points in the pipe and thus affecting its durability. A tube made of recycled copper often reacts differently with water than a tube made of pure copper. If, as a homeowner, you’re not entirely sure how old your plumbing is or what kind of pipe it’s made of, it’s worth having it surveyed and inspected by a professional. A pipe survey will give you an expert opinion on the condition and durability of the pipework.

Corrosion destroys copper tap water pipes

The durability of copper pipes is affected by many factors. Durability is affected by factors such as installation method and location, water quality, pressure fluctuations, mooring, water flow and water quality. Often, however, the copper pipe is broken by corrosion. When a copper service water pipe is put into service, an oxide layer forms on the inner surface due to oxidation. The purpose of the oxide layer is to protect the copper pipe from direct contact with water. If this oxidation reaction is disturbed, the surface of the pipe is at risk of corrosion. Foreign substances in water are particularly harmful. For example, in private houses using groundwater, there is a high risk of silica, or silicate, being present in the water. As water rises from the soil into the pipe system, the silicate in the water is allowed to build up on the inner surface of the pipes, leaving an oxide layer between the water and the pipe. Water utilities are aware of the problem and are trying to clean the water from silicate by various means. One way is to pass the water through a limestone filter. However, it should be noted that small amounts of silicate often get through, causing the pipes to be corroded by water rising into the pipes. Water from your own well always contains silicate. Combined with the deteriorated copper material, chemicals in the water threaten the durability of the piping. Even a small pinpoint corrosion on the inner surface of a pipe can cause water damage when water is released under pressure into the pipe system. This is why poor quality copper pipes are often the cause of major water damage to properties.

When should I replace my water pipes?

In general, signs of deterioration can already be seen visually in old piping. These include variations in the colour of the pipework and visible leaks in the fittings. The technical characteristics also indicate the condition and functionality of the piping system. Water pressure indicates the movement of water in the pipeline. If the water pressure in the pipework is poor, there may be extensive deposits of sediment in the pipework, as in the picture in this blog, taken recently at our client’s site. Sediment significantly reduces the water pressure and at the same time corrodes the surface of the pipe. Pipeline support also plays a big role. Inadequate bracing puts significant stress on fittings and piping. If the piping is old and not braced in accordance with current guidelines, pressure surges in the pipes can, in the worst case, cause the pipe to burst or the fitting to come loose. In some areas, houses are exposed to different types of vibrations. A construction site or train tracks cause vibrations, which make the pipeline “live”, i.e. move. On earthworks sites, vibrations from extraction and blasting operations can travel long distances and put additional stress on already weak pipelines. Homeowners should therefore pay particular attention to the plumbing if the structures are exposed to strong external disturbances. The technical lifetime of water pipes and equipment should be checked and recorded in the house’s maintenance logbook. The maintenance log makes it easy to keep track of when it’s time to contact a specialist. A plumbing survey allows the homeowner to quickly and easily find out the condition of the plumbing system. The survey will find out, among other things, when it is worthwhile to replace the water pipes and what the cost of renovating the house’s water pipes will be.

Winter threatens ageing plumbing

Temperature fluctuations always put a strain on the piping. Cold air is particularly damaging to pipework in areas where temperatures are low and pipes are not properly insulated from the cold. If there is water in the pipe and it freezes, there is a high risk that the pipe will break when it thaws. This also makes it easy for weak joints to snap out of place. It is important to maintain a basic level of heating in all spaces where the water pipes run through the structure. In severe frosts, it is important to ensure that the water in the pipes is allowed to flow to prevent freezing. Water points in the basement of a house are often used only infrequently. It is recommended that the outdoor tap, which is generally not used in winter, be emptied of water well in advance of winter. This measure prevents external stress and pipe breakage due to weather variations and temperature differences.

Plumbing repairs are the most important renovation in a detached house.

Plumbing repairs in private houses are basic renovations that a responsible homeowner should have professionally carried out at the latest when the technical service life of the house is reached. The technical lifetime of copper service water pipes is 30 years. Plumbing renovations in private houses, especially water supply renovations, can be completed by a professional in just a few days, without demolishing the structure. The most common Finnish single-family house is by far the frontline house, of which hundreds of thousands were built around Finland in the post-war period. The houses were built on plots of land that were given to soldiers who served on the front after the war. Many of the houses were built by the men themselves. They were built at a time when everything was in short supply and the quality of building materials varied. Originally, many houses had no bathrooms or toilets. Later, as living standards rose, bathrooms began to be built. In these cases, the houses were piped themselves and toilets might be built in an old wardrobe, for example. Plumbing pipes were almost always installed inside the walls, which is why leaks often go unnoticed or are discovered too late. To keep your precious home in good condition and maintain its value, it’s a good idea to have your plumbing renovation done in time. After the renovation, the piping is installed to run along the surface of the walls, making it easy to inspect the piping and react immediately to any leaks.

In buying and selling situations, plumbing repairs are an important part of the value of a property. A buyer is often more interested in a property where the plumbing repairs have been carried out on time. If the property is sold without renovating the plumbing, the seller should clarify their own responsibilities and the buyer should avoid common pitfalls.

Water damage can wreak havoc in a wooden house

In a wooden house, water damage is not something to be trifled with. For example, if water can seep from the kitchen cupboard under the floor, it can soak into the insulation and, in the worst case, cause mould or other unhealthy human growth. The situation is particularly bad if the kitchen has been renovated in previous decades and water can get into the artificial materials. Some previously common plastic materials react with water and wetting to form toxic materials that rise into the air as they dry. There is a risk of serious indoor air problems. Problems can easily lead to sensitisation of the respiratory system of residents, with serious health consequences. A healthy and dry house is essential for healthy indoor air. That’s why it’s important to do the renovation and prevent damage in time.

Does insurance cover water damage in a detached house?

If the damage is deemed to have been caused by the owner’s neglect of the house’s pipes, the insurance company will not pay the full amount. The damage to property resulting from water damage is often considered to be self-inflicted in such cases. As a responsible homeowner, you should be vigilant about the condition of your house and your insurance. When water damage occurs, leaking water easily drains to the lowest floor, causing a lot of damage both inside and outside the structure. Often, water damage also destroys precious objects and memories that cannot be replaced in any way.

Plumbing repairs are a common cause

Comfort of living and the condition of private houses are issues that unite all people, as the housing stock in our society is ageing. Renovating houses preserves the value of the whole region. This will keep them safe, ecological and in every way pleasant to live in. How nice and relieving it is to tell your neighbours and experts that the plumbing in your house is in order and the renovations are up to date.

Articles published by Hausoturva

Taloturva publishes useful information on housing, living and especially on single-family housing.

Taloturva is the number one provider of plumbing repairs for detached houses in Finland, and we can have your house repaired in 3 days, and you don’t have to move out.

We also carry out free drainage surveys in private houses, because we want to prevent water damage in Finland. Do you know the condition of the plumbing in your house?

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