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Switching Materials: Removing Old Threaded Pipe


Threaded steel supply pipe

Once you have worked with threaded pipe, you will understand why it is so rarely used now for new water pipes.  Cutting, threading, and assembling steel pipe requires muscle and specialized equipment.  When you are trying to take old pipe apart, you will swear it is welded together.

If your home was built before World War II, its supply pipes are likely made of threaded steel.  This doesn’t mean you have to use the same pipe for improvements or repairs.  Special fittings enable you to break into a line and add copper or plastic.

If your water pressure is adequate and you find little rust trapped in your aerators, there is no need to replace threaded steel pipe with copper or plastic.  If water pressure is low, aerators fill up with rust, and leaks develop, it is a good idea to change.  Replace long, horizontal lines first.  Avoid cutting holes into walls unless it is absolutely necessary.  PEX pipe is easiest to run in walls.  Don’t use galvanized pipe for gas lines.

Black threaded pipe

Black threaded pipe, which lacks the zinc coating of galvanized pipe, is intended for gas lines only and is still commonly used.  Don’t use black pipe for water lines; it rusts quickly.  Some codes don’t allow the use of galvanized pipe for gas lines.

Boosting water pressure

In an old house, galvanized pipes that are clogged with rust result in poor water pressure.  If the problem is limited to one fixture, replace a few of the pipes that lead up to it.  If the problem runs throughout the house, call in a professional Fort Worth plumber who specializes in unclogging galvanized pipe.  A process can be used that causes rust and corrosion to fall away from the inside of the pipe.  The process can take months to complete, will clog faucets, and may reveal leaks as the gunk is removed.  In the end, however, water will flow through the pipes as if they were new.

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