Galvanized pipe problems: An insurance guy's story.
When I first heard that Galvanized Pipes were a problem for homeowners insurers. I was Furious. After all, MY HOME had Galvanized Pipes. That was in 2010 and I'd had no problems for the past 30 years! So I was convinced that the insurers were making a “mountain out of a mole hill”. My personal lines insurance staff had just informed me that one of our insurers would no longer accept new homeowners policies with Galvanized Pipes.
What I didn't know at the time was that our insurers were experiencing water leak claims due to aging pipes. In fact I now know that galvanized pipes work pretty well for between 20 to 50 years depending on the circumstances. A soft water system (like the one I have) for example will speed up the rusting process, particularly on the hot water lines. But eventually all galvanized pipes will finally wear out. And when they begin to leak because they're rusted out, the pipes really are shot. Some symptoms of galvanized pipe problems are low water pressure, flecks of metal in your aerators, and visible rust color when turning on seldom used faucets.
Fast forward 3 years. April of 2013, my wife and I were driving away from our home and got an emergency call from our alarm company saying our home was on FIRE! I did an immediate U-turn and high-tailed it back to the house, heart pounding, adrenalin flowing. driving faster than the speed limit. We got home in 20 minutes looking for smoke all the while as we drove up. Nothing. We rush into the house looking around for any source of ignition. Nothing. Up the stairs into the attic. Nothing. Back and forth finding nothing until my wife sees a 25 Cent size spot of water on the carpet in the living room.
Where did that come from? We looked up to see our alarm system's smoke detector immediately above the spot. It turned out that a pin hole water leak had run into the alarm device setting it off. First thoughts: "No fire. Great! No big problem. I'll worry about the little water leak later." After all how much could it cost?
The plumber came out the next day and cut a hole in the living room ceiling to find the leak. Sure enough the leak was nearby. They offered to splice a patch onto the pipe. I said, ··No let's replace that entire pipe." So they cut a few more holes about 10 feet in either direction. We could now see both the hot and cold water lines more clearly. Every foot or so on the Galvanized Pipe there was a white spot on the bottom of the pipe. Each spot was where the water was rusting through the pipe, eroding a spot and about to cause a water leak. l quickly realized that we needed to replace all of the Galvanized Pipes unless I wanted to fight ongoing water leaks for the next 10 years. I decided to have them rip all of the galvanized pipe out of the house and replace it.