Brown Water Blues? Replace Those Rusted Galvanized Pipes With CPVC Pipe

If you notice that your faucet water is a light tan or brown color, or you have shower heads and faucet aerators that are constantly becoming clogged, it is likely that your galvanized supply pipes are rusting from the inside out.

Many older homes have supply pipes that are made of galvanized steel, and constant exposure to pressurized water inside the pipes eventually causes rust, corrosion, and possible pipe failure. 

You can replace those old galvanized pipes with chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC) pipe, which is a type of plastic pipe that is easy to install and eliminates the threat of rusting and corrosion. This is not to be confused with PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pipe, which is only suitable for drains, not supply lines.

What do you need to replace your galvanized pipe with CPVC pipe?

  • CPVC pipe. The total length requirement needed will be equal to the total length of the galvanized pipe that will be replaced. If you are replacing residential supply lines, you will likely need 1/2" diameter pipe. You can buy it in various lengths, but 8 or 10 foot lengths are the most practical for most uses in the home.
  • Small PVC pipe cutter. This is a hand tool designed to cut PVC and CPVC pipe, and provided a cleaner cut than using a hacksaw or another cutting tool. A small pipe cutter is adequate for this type of job.
  • Transition fittings and CPVC fittings. These fittings have a threaded male end for connecting to a galvanized pipe fitting and a smooth end for connecting to a length of CPVC pipe. When you remove a length of galvanized pipe that you wish to replace, you will connect the threaded end of this fitting in its place. Couplings and elbows, which are used to join lengths of pipe together or change the direction of a line, are smooth on both ends.
  • PVC cleaner and cement. Instead of using a threaded connection, CPVC pipe and fittings are connected with a strong cement that forms a strong bond within seconds of application. PVC cleaner must first be used on both sides of the connection, to remove any oil or other contaminants and to help the cement bond to the surfaces that are being connected.
  • Both the cleaner and the cement require adequate ventilation when they are applied, so actions such as connecting transition fittings or couplings should be performed outside if possible. A respirator may be required for extensive indoor use of these products.
  • PVC hanger straps. These will be used to secure the pipes to walls and ceilings. They are necessary because plastic pipe is more flexible than steel pipe, and the supply line will bend without support.
  • Teflon tape. You will use this on all threaded connections, such as with transition fittings. Wrap teflon tape in a clockwise direction around the male threads of a transition fitting before connecting it to a female galvanized fitting.
  • Pipe wrenches. You will need two pipe wrenches to disconnect the old galvanized pipe. One wrench will hold the fitting to which the pipe is connected in place, while the other wrench will be used to turn the pipe until it is removed.

Remember to turn off the water supply and open all available faucets before you begin, but even then you are likely to get drenched with dirty water. However, the increase in water pressure and the purity of your faucet water will be an adequate reward for your hard work. If you'd rather have a professional do this, visit Absolute Plumbing & Drain Cleaning Services Inc.