Why were galvanized pipes so bad?
Actually, they weren’t bad.
Nickel coated steel pipes had a lot of great things going for them:
- they were strong
- they lasted a fair amount of time
- they did not contain lead
- they were cheap
They were a fantastic product in their time, but that time has come and gone. If you own a house (whether you live in it, rent it, or are flipping a house) you need to know two things:
- Does your house have galvanized pipes?
- How old are they?
If you cannot answer these two questions, you could be setting yourself for a huge expense, and it will likely come sooner rather than later.
What is a galvanized pipe?
Galvanized pipes are not made of some sort of weird material called galvan.
What they really are, as it says above, is steel pipes coated with nickel, that’s all.
Steel is subject to corrosion, but coating the steel in nickel (galvanizing it) guards against corrosion, halts rust, prevents the rust from forming, at lease for a time.
How long? This depends on many factors, but suffice it to say, it is not forever. It is a coating and said coating will wear.
More about Galvanization
Cars rust, especially in areas where it snows, and the government salts the roads. Vehicle makers do a degree of rust prevention before painting cars, and usually, they coat the areas susceptible to corrosion with nickel. They galvanize it, in other words, then they apply a primer, then paint. Even then, some cars will still rust. It’s not that much different for steel pipes coated in nickel.
But my galvanized pipes look pristine!
Galvanized pipes, on the whole, have a lifespan of 50 years. That is a benchmark that insurance companies use pretty consistently from one to another. You can almost set a clock on this lifespan, right about 50 years they can start leaking, bursting, even if they look brand spanking new on the outside. This is because galvanized pipes corrode from the inside out. You cannot see it coming.