The Cost of Re-Piping a House
Does your home suffer from low water pressure? If your shower is a trickle rather than a torrent, this may be a sign that you need to replace the plumbing pipes. What does this mean and how much will it cost you?
Causes of Low Water Pressure
Low water pressure is caused by one of 2 factors:
- Corrosion. Rust and corrosion in your pipes eventually lead to holes and leaks, which mean the full volume of water will not get through.
- Scale buildup. A heavy accumulation of lime scale deposits on the inside of your pipes will block the flow of water.
Professionally Re-piping Your Home
If you have a serious water pressure issue, contact a reliable plumber to assess the problem and if necessary, give you an estimate on the cost to re-pipe your home (that is, replace all the existing plumbing pipes). This is not a DIY project. You’ll need a professional plumber to evaluate your plumbing needs -- based on your location and home structure -- and explain the pros and cons of each type of piping to you.
Typically, the cost to re-pipe a home with 1-2.5 bathrooms ranges between $1,500 and $15,000, depending on the size of the house and type of pipe you are installing. Each plumbing fixture -- sink, bath, shower, toilet, etc. -- adds to the overall cost.
Additionally, labor costs will increase depending on how many stories your home has and the ease with which the plumber can get at the pipes. Depending on the size of your home and the location of the pipes, the re-piping process can take 1 to 5 days.
If the plumber makes holes in the walls or ceilings in order to access your plumbing pipes, you may have to hire a house painter to cover up those spots.
PEX vs. Copper Plumbing Pipes
There are two main types of pipes used for residential plumbing: PEX piping and copper piping. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.
PEX, which is a flexible plastic, has become the most popular piping in the US. Besides being easy to install, its flexibility helps prevent burst pipes, and it has an easy shutoff valve should repairs be necessary. It resists corrosion and retains heat better than copper, thereby conserving energy. The downside, however, is that PEX piping cannot be used outdoors because of UV sensitivity, it cannot be recycled, and it allows for the possibility of water contamination.
Copper is a popular alternative to PEX piping but it is more expensive. The advantages of copper piping are that it’s bacteria-resistant, recyclable, and not UV sensitive. Its disadvantages, however, are that copper pipes can corrode, can sometimes give water a metallic taste, and can burst in temperatures below freezing.
In places like Milwaukee, which have cold, frosty winters, pipe bursts are a major factor when considering which type of piping to install. If you live in such a climate, you should learn how to thaw frozen pipes.
PEX prices typically run from $0.40 to $2 a foot, while copper piping runs between $2 and $10 per foot.
Updated April 30, 2018.
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