Categories: Plumbing Repair

5 Plumbing Problems Commonly Found in Old Houses

Older houses carry a lot of charm, personality, and history, making them a relic of their time. The ones that continue standing today were built according to the specifications of their period, built with materials that are now expensive. These houses are also typically a more affordable option, making them an appealing choice for young people wanting to buy their first home.

However, older homes need more care and attention since they typically hide numerous problems behind their crown molding. Although some of these issues are minor and easily fixed, some are time bombs that can severely damage the home. For this reason, it’s crucial to check old homes for their plumbing system, as aged pipes can lead to numerous health hazards and expensive water damage. Here are some plumbing problems commonly found in older houses:

1. Pipes Made of Outdated Material

Homes built before the 1990s may feature pipes from materials that are now prohibited in U.S. building codes. These materials include lead, galvanized pipes, and polybutylene. Lead is one of the oldest metals used in piping due to its ideal qualities, like its malleability and durability. It was also used as an additive in the solder used to connect copper pipe fittings. However, the metal is incredibly toxic since it causes joint and gastrointestinal pain, fatigue, irritability, and memory loss. 

Galvanized pipes were most commonly used in homes built before the 1960s. These were made of iron and featured a layer of zinc, which erodes and exposes the pipe to corrosion and breakage. Old galvanized pipes eventually become incredibly brittle that they must be broken apart to replace them.

Lastly, polybutylene was initially marketed as the “pipe of the future” in the 1970s, replacing copper lines. However, oxidants in public water systems induced a chemical reaction with the plastic in the material, causing it to crack, flake, and become brittle. If you have an older home, it is crucial to reach out to a professional plumber to inspect your system and replace it entirely if made of these materials.

2. Pipe Bellies

Pipes are situated underground or in a concrete slab, which means they are eventually affected by the gradual shifting and moving of a house. If the lines start sloping downwards, they form a “belly,” thereby limiting water flow. It then creates pools where sediment or waste gather, resulting in stoppages or leaks. 

3. Old Fixtures and Line Connections

As implied in the age of older homes, they feature fixtures, supply line connections, and faucets that are likely far past or near the end of their lifespan. Wear and tear and corrosion often result in broken knobs, leaks, and restricted water flow, making it difficult to use water in the house. You may be mere seconds away from disaster by continuing to rely on these failing pipes, so it’s best to have them inspected and replaced by a professional plumber right away.

4. Damaged Sewer Lines

Most people don’t think about damaged sewer lines until they fail, leak sewage into the ground, or fill your home with the foul smell of wastewater. Sewer lines were heavily used before modern appliances, like dishwashers and garbage disposals, channeled more water through them, increasing their failure rates. Tree roots can also damage sewer lines, so it’s worth inspecting your sewer lines to see if they need a replacement.

5. Incorrectly Done Repairs

Lastly, an old home may have had some incorrectly done repairs that eventually worsened a plumbing problem. Some of these homes have DIY maintenance done by the homeowner or a handyman instead of a professional plumber and range in severity, from minor issues like unsecured pipes to serious ones, like unsafe water heaters. 


Old houses are certainly not without their appeal, bearing magnetic features of a time long gone. However, they also have unique problems that are crucial to ensure your total comfort and convenience. By hiring a professional plumber to inspect your pipes, you can have them make the necessary repairs and replacements to prevent severe and expensive problems from occurring.

Candu Plumbing & Rooter is a team of professional plumbers in Oak Park offering various services, such as emergency plumbing, drain cleaning, water leak repairs, and many more. Call us today at (855) 522-2638 for any plumbing issues you have!

Jeremy Parker

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