Some plumbing problems cost next to nothing to fix. Sink doesn’t drain? A plunger and three seconds of your time could be all that it needs. Toilet doesn’t flush? Before you start pricing new ones, make sure it doesn’t just need a part that costs less than $4. Water coming out of your faucet too fast? The fix could set you back a mere 50 cents!
Naturally, many plumbing problems do cost real money to fix. If that weren’t true, then there would be no plumber in Sioux Falls – let alone several. Sure, you may be able to squeeze a few more good months out of a severely beaten down water heater, toilet or faucet. But after a point, it just makes more sense to put the old thing out of its misery and invest in a replacement.
When should you repair plumbing? And when should you replace it? There are far too many potential plumbing issues to give you a complete answer guide. Instead, we’ll tell you what you should consider, from a broader perspective, before deciding whether to repair or replace.
Is It Obsolete?
Much of the time, people decide to replace perfectly functional plumbing fixtures. A toilet may flush like clockwork, but if it’s an avocado-green holdout from the ’70s, or some other similarly hideously outdated style, then it cannot survive a bathroom remodel. In other words, if it’s ugly and you hate it, then there’s just no fixing that.
Sometimes plumbing is obsolete for safety reasons. For example, plumbing that was installed before 1986 often contains lead. It was once common practice to use lead for plumbing pipes. Heck, the word “plumbing” itself is derived from the Latin word for lead: plumbum. But now that we’re all a little more enlightened and health conscious, you should seriously consider replacing plumbing if it’s both defective and full of toxic heavy metal.
Is It on Its Last Legs?
If your plumbing is brand new – or relatively newish – then you’re almost certainly better off repairing it instead of replacing it. But just like any other manmade thing, plumbing has a lifespan. A residential plumbing system’s lifespan depends heavily on what its pipes are made of:
- Galvanized steel – 20 to 50 years
- PEX – 40 to 50 years
- Lead – 40 to 50 years
- Copper – 50 to 70 years
- CPVC – 50 to 75 years
- PVC – 100+ years
A water heater’s average lifespan depends on its fuel source. If it’s gas, expect it to last 8 to 12 years. If it’s electric, 10 to 15 years. Water softeners also usually last for 10 to 15 years. With normal levels of usage, dishwashers and clothes washers both last around a decade. If any of these appliances start exhibiting problems toward the tail ends of their lifespans, replacing them right away is a great way to avoid inconvenient breakdowns and costly repairs.
Unless you were your home’s first occupant (or you built it yourself), then you may not know how old its plumbing and fixtures are. If you have any doubt, call a plumber. They may not be able to determine its age, either, but they’ll do something even better: judge how much longer it can last based on its condition, and advise whether repair or replacement represents the more cost-effective course of action.
How Often Does It Annoy You?
Or, to phrase it a different way, how often does it give you problems? If a certain pipe clogs or leaks all the time, then you’ve probably already sworn at it enough. It’s better to bite the bullet now and pay for a replacement before continual wear and tear forces the pipe to fail altogether.
Likewise, if you’re constantly dealing with a water heater that no longer reliably heats water (or goes too far in the other direction, by overheating), a water softener that similarly fails to live up to its name, or a toilet that clogs like it’s some kind of machine that was specifically designed to clog, then avoiding future headaches is well worth the cost of replacement.
As with any other investment, the repair vs. replace debate boils down to a cost-benefit analysis. Once you’re paying for annual repairs – on anything – replacement usually makes greater sense from an economic standpoint.
Still not sure whether repair or replacement is the better way to go? Then you’ve already found the best Sioux Falls plumber to help you make up your mind. Contact PrairieSons today for all your residential and commercial plumbing and HVAC needs!