The lifespan of pipes in a house depends on the type of piping, according. Here’s a breakdown of how long pipes last, depending on the material:
- Plastic pipes (PVC, CPVC, etc.): Indefinitely
- Copper pipes: 50+ years
- Brass pipes: 40-70 years
- Galvanized steel pipes: 20-50 years
The best way to replace old pipes in your house is to hire a licensed plumber to do the fix. You and the plumber can start the assessment by figuring out when your pipes were installed and if they’re in poor condition. If the plumbing in your home needs to be replaced, the plumber may need to remove drywall or ceiling materials to access the pipes and perform the job.
Installing piping in your home will likely cost between $450 and $1,000 per fixture. However, it’s important to always get cost estimates from plumbers so you can properly budget for this project. Several factors will drive the cost to install new plumbing in your home.
For example, the size of the house and the number of fixtures will impact costs. And the type of pipe material also has a significant impact, with copper piping being the most expensive. Piping located in difficult-to-reach areas also drives up the cost, as does wall repair and add-ons like water softeners.
Learn more by reading our piping installation cost guide.
How often your plumbing needs to be replaced depends on several factors, but the primary one is the type of piping installed in your house. Different materials (copper, steel, plastic, etc.) have different lifespans. How well you treat your piping also affects how often it needs to be replaced.
Here are additional signs you may need to replace your piping:
- Your pipes need constant repairs and attention
- There are signs of water decay, discoloration and leaks
- Your drains lines endured damage from tree roots or severe weather
- You’re remodeling your home
When in doubt, always ask a plumber for their expert opinion.
The best type of pipe for plumbing depends on your needs and concerns. For example:
- PVC lasts indefinitely and is easy to install.
- PEX is easy to install and isn’t subject to corrosion.
- Copper is durable and slightly more expensive.
Talk to your plumber about all your options, which may include other types of pipes (CPVC, polyethylene, ABS, polybutylene, etc.)
Depending on the service you need (unclogging a drain, fixing a pipe, installing new pipes, etc.), plumbers charge anywhere from $45-$165 per hour. Plumbers often operate on a fixed rate model, too. Some won’t charge hourly rates because the variables involved in their work makes it less practical to do so.
Plumbers will scope out the work, calculate the cost of parts, and roll it together with other fees to give you an estimate for the job. They may even offer standard flat rates for things like installing a toilet or a sink. Reach out to plumbers near you to get an accurate cost estimate for your project or repair.
A plumber will need to enter your home to fix plumbing issues like dripping faucets, clogged sinks or toilets and leaky pipes. They might not need to come into your home if the faulty appliance is located outdoors or in the garage. Before you begin the project, contact plumbers near you to find out they will need to enter your home.
What’s the best way to set up a consultation or an appointment with a plumber during the COVID-19 pandemic?
If possible, it’s best to set up a virtual consultation or phone call with a plumber near during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can send a message to a professional plumber near you and ask if they are available to video chat or have a phone call. Use that time to discuss the work that needs to be done. Make sure to ask any questions you have about the project. And lastly, ask the plumber how they handle payments and whether they have any specific safety precautions in place to comply with social distancing.
Contact plumbers near you beforehand to see if they can complete the project without entering your home — for example, by entering the garage to fix a broken water heater. If the plumber needs to enter your house to do the job, you should proceed only if both parties feel comfortable with the project. Consider taking extra steps such as waving instead of shaking hands, staying 6 feet apart, using digital payments and sanitizing common areas.
Generally, plumbers are often considered essential service providers. Essential service providers vary from state to state and city to city, however. For the most accurate information, check your official state or city government website to see whether a plumber is considered an essential service in your area.
Read CISA’s publication on identifying critical workers to find out more information on a national level. Some, but not all, jurisdictions follow CISA’s definitions of critical infrastructure.