How old water pipes matter, and what should I expect. in the Sacramento, Ca areas.

Old Water Pipes

old galvanized pipe photo.webp
Average Life Expectancy for Plumbing Pipes

If your home was built before 1975, your plumbing pipes are in excess of 45 years old and may be suffering from corrosion, undetected pinhole leaks and longitudinal cracks that have yet to be discovered. Needless to say, when your water pipes start aging and leaking, even if it’s just a drip or two every few seconds, it can lead to expensive mold and water damage. You may think that a home inspectors assessment would also include your plumbing pipes, but they often do not.


The average life expectancy for plumbing pipes is between 20 and 50 years, depending on the type of material used, the installation and the water composition. Given the average life expectancy for most types of plumbing pipes, you may need a preventive maintenance plumbing pipe inspection between the 30 and 40-year mark of your building.

  • Brass – Brass water supply lines tend to last between 40 and 70 years.

  • Copper – Copper water supply lines can last upwards of 60 years.

  • CPVC – CPVC tends to last about 50 years before needing to be replaced.

  • Galvanized Steel – Galvanized water lines corrode quickly between 30 and 40 years.

  • PEX – PEX piping has an average lifespan of around 40 years.

  • PVC – PVC when buried underground can be expected to last 50 years.


Home Assessment Benefits and Limitations

As your home ages, you may be thinking about scheduling your residential building assessment that inspects the building’s structural integrity. You would think that one of the systems to be inspected would be your homes potable water lines, but this type of inspection is often not included in a structural building assessment because this assessment only cover what can visually be seen. They do not typically involve destructive testing that includes opening walls.

Instead, these inspections check the structural integrity of items that can be seen easily with the naked eye, and those systems typically include the roofing system, exterior and load bearing walls, the framing, floors, foundation and electrical system. Unless an obvious flaw in another system, like your plumbing system, is apparent, it will not be inspected during your homes assessment.