How much does pipe installation cost?
On average nationwide, pipe installation costs $450 and $1,000 per fixture (a bathtub, sink, or toilet). How much you pay will depend on the amount of pipe you need, which can cost anywhere between $0.25 and $10 per square foot. The average cost for pipe installation is $6.25 a foot for copper pipe and $0.90 a foot for PEX pipe.
A repipe or new pipe installation project is priced based on the number of fixtures and the amount of pipe needed to connect them to the water lines. The price covers labor and materials, and varies according to several factors, like the size and age of the home, the type of pipe installed, the location of the pipe, the costs of removing the old pipe, and the cost of closing up walls after the new pipe's in place.
Repiping or piping a home is no DIY project. You'll need to hire a plumbing company to remove old pipe and install the new, because it's complicated work that requires expertise. Before you hire a contractor to install or reinstall pipes in your home, estimate your potential price with a breakdown of common cost factors and know what to expect in the installation process.
What's in this cost guide?
There are several reasons you might need new plumbing pipes. Old water pipes can wear out and spring a leak, causing thousands of dollars of damage to your home.
Old pipes can also affect the quality and safety of your tap water. Galvanized pipe, made of steel coated in zinc, can corrode over the years as the zinc wears off, exposing the steel to water. This leads to rusty colored, bad tasting water and blockages that can reduce water pressure. Eventually the corrosion will cause pinhole leaks, which add up to a slow-moving disaster for your home.
Old pipes made of polybutene (PB), which were the darling of the homebuilding industry from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s, fail at a rate so high as to inspire a billion dollar class action lawsuit against PB pipe's maker and a product recall.
Lead pipes, banned from new construction for more than 30 years, are still around in old construction and can make your tap water dangerous to drink. If you're dealing with any of these issues with your existing pipes as a homeowner, you may want to consider repiping your house.
You also might need new pipes as part of a remodel or an addition to your house. For example, if you're adding a new toilet in a room that doesn't already have any plumbing.
Several factors impact the cost of piping or repiping your house including the size of your house, hourly rates of your contractor, pipe location, and cost of materials.
Size of the house and number of stories
A home with more square footage will cost more to repipe than a one with a smaller footprint. A bigger home will have more bathrooms, so it will have more tubs, toilets, and sinks. As we'll get into later, number of fixtures will increase the price, especially for a whole-house pipe installation.
The water lines will have to run longer distances in a bigger house, too, meaning you'll have to buy more material to account for the linear pipe feet. A second or third story increases costs for pipe installation, because a wall must be knocked down to run pipes vertically.
If you're repiping your house, remember, before the new pipe is installed, the old pipe must come out. A larger house will have more old pipe to pull out, which, again increases the labor costs.
Type of pipe
There are three types of materials used in water piping. The type of pipe you use affects the material costs for pipe installation.
|Pipe material||Estimated cost per square foot|
|PEX||$0.40 - $2|
|Copper||$2.50 - $10|
|CPVP||$0.50 - $0.60|
PEX is flexible plastic pipe, also called cross-linked polyethylene. It's the most popular and affordable type of pipe, running between $0.40 to $2 per linear foot, plus labor.
PEX cost less than metal pipe because it's easier to install. PEX is flexible and can be snaked behind drywall and bent and curved around corners, which means your plumber doesn't have to knock out (and then repair) a wall to install new pipes. That's a huge savings.
Another perk is that PEX won't burst when it freezes, it's resistant to corrosion, and it retains heat well, which can lower your utility bills. PEX can be used for both hot and cold water lines, but it cannot be used outdoors (i.e. running waste water from your house to the sewer) because UV light will break down the plastic.
There are a couple of cons, though. PEX has only been in use for a decade or so, so it hasn't had time to prove its long-term durability or safety. Rodents can also chew through it, which would be a costly problem to fix with a rodent infestation.
Copper pipe is the most traditional plumbing pipe because it's so durable and reliable. However, copper is pricey, running between $2.50 and $10 per linear foot, plus labor -- that's five times as much as PEX.
The upside is that copper can last for decades and many brands of copper pipe come with a 50-year warranty. It's naturally resistant to bacteria, meaning your water will stay cleaner, and it's resilient. Copper pipe is UV and rust-resistant, so it can be used inside and out. If you live in where earthquakes are a possibility, copper pipe is elastic enough to withstand a quake, sparing your home potentially disastrous water damage.
CPVC or chlorinated polyvinyl chloride, is a type of rigid plastic pipe that has been in use since the 1960s. At $0.50 to $1 per linear foot, plus labor, it's an affordable alternative to copper pipe. It doesn't have the long lifespan of copper and usually needs to be replaced after 20 to 25 years.
Number of fixtures that need piping
Pipe installation projects are bid by the fixture – tub, sink, or toilet – with prices running between $450 and $1,000 or more. The exact cost depends on whether the plumber is doing a rough in (which means they only do the piping, and don't supply or hook up the actual fixture) or not.
It's cheaper to replace or install pipes in a basement or crawlspace because they're exposed. Pipes that run inside walls or ceilings are more expensive for a professional plumber to replace because the wall may need to be opened up and then repaired in order to remove the old pipe and install the new pipe.
As just mentioned, a plumber may need to open up or even move a wall or ceiling to do a pipe installation. That means your contractor will need to repair the walls after they're done.
Some plumbing companies repair the walls after a pipe installation themselves, while others partner with drywall companies and other experts for the work and include the cost in their overall bid. The average cost for drywall repair is $260 - $450, nationwide.
Add-ons, like a water softener
Some places have water that's hard, which means it contains a high concentration of minerals (like calcium and magnesium) that clog or corrode pipes over time. In these places, you may need water softening device hooked to your plumbing system to remove the minerals and make your pipes last longer.
Water softener installation can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. For example, Stasis Water Systems in Chandler, Arizona charges $870 to install a clack digital softener for a townhome, but $1,500 for a 7,000 square foot home.
Whether you're installing a complete water system in a new house, or repiping as part of a remodel or fixing a plumbing problem, a professional plumber will generally follow this process:
- Get a permit. A licensed plumber will get a permit from your city or town to work on your pipes. Most areas require a permit to do an extensive pipe installation and ensure it meets building codes.
- Pipe or repipe the house. A professional plumber will pull out the old pipe and replace it with new piping. This takes one to three days, depending on the size of your home. Depending on where the pipes are and the type of piping, the plumber may open up walls, ceilings, even floors, to reach the pipe.
- Inspection. The city will send an inspector to inspect the pipe installation to make sure the work is done correctly. The inspection takes a couple of hours. Don't skip this step. It's for your safety, and most insurance companies won't pay a claim for damage done when by a pipeline installed with no permit (i.e., illegally).
- Repairing walls. The plumber or a drywall expert with the company will patch the holes made in walls to install the new pipe. This can take one to two days, depending on the size of your home and the location of the pipes.
How can you hire a pipe installation professional?
Before you hire a pipe or repipe specialist to help with this plumbing project, be sure to:
Look for a qualified professional: Find a licensed, qualified professional plumbing company with experience in installing pipes.
Look at past projects: Make sure the contractor or plumber you hire has experience installing pipes.
Get multiple free estimates: Knowing a general range for pipe installation costs will give you the confidence to hire a pro who's not over- or under-charging. Make sure the estimate is specific and details project costs in the quote.
Dealing with pipe problems can be a large, headache-inducing undertaking, but with the right professional plumber at your side, it doesn't have to. Find a plumber specializing in pipe installation near you.