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Things You Should Know about Galvanized Pipes

Apr. 22, 2021
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Galvanized pipes are a common problem due to the age of homes on the north side of Chicago. Below is a list of the most frequently asked questions we receive about galvanized pipe. Next, the galvanized pipe supplier will introduce things You Should Know about galvanized pipes.

What is galvanized pipe?

Galvanized pipes are steel pipes dipped in a protective zinc coating to prevent corrosion and rusting. Galvanised pipes were usually installed in houses built before 1960. When it was invented, galvanised pipes were a replacement for lead pipes in water supply lines. Today, however, we have learned that decades of exposure to water will cause galvanised pipes to corrode and rust.

What does galvanised pipe look like?

When first installed, galvanised pipes have a nickel-like appearance. But as they age, galvanised pipes can become darker, brighter or duller, depending on their environment. We have also seen houses with plumbing painted on them, so at first glance it may be difficult to tell the difference.


How do I know if I have galvanised pipes?

If you can't tell by looking at the pipes, a quick test can be carried out to determine if they are galvanised. Simply grab a flathead screwdriver and a strong magnet. First locate your pipe, then scrape the outside of the pipe with the screwdriver. Compare your results with

Copper

The scratched area looks like copper.

The magnet does not stick to it.

Galvanized Pipes

Plastic

The scratched area will appear ivory or white.

Magnet will not stick to it

Galvanised steel

The scratched area will have a silvery grey colour.

A strong magnet will stick to it. 


Lead

The scratched area will be a dull silvery grey and the metal will usually be soft and easily scratched. A magnet will not stick to it. The lead pipe is easily bent and may be deformed. If you have lead pipes, we recommend replacing them if possible.

Ensure that the pipe is scuff tested in several areas. It is not uncommon to have more than one type of pipe on a water transmission line.

Does galvanised pipe contain lead?

Galvanised pipes installed on transmission lines between 1880 and 1960 were immersed in molten, naturally occurring zinc. The naturally occurring zinc is impure, so these pipes were dipped in zinc that also contained lead and other impurities. The zinc coating extends the life of the pipe, but adds small amounts of lead and other substances that can be harmful to residents.

In addition, if your galvanised pipes are ever connected to lead pipes (including service lines), there are further reasons for concern. Corrosion within the galvanised steel pipe may trap a small amount of lead. Even if the lead pipe was removed several years ago, galvanised steel pipes can still periodically release trapped lead into the water stream. It was not until 1986 that Chicago stopped using lead pipes as service lines, and an estimated 400,000 lead service lines are still in use in Chicago alone.

The only way to ensure that lead does not move from pipes to taps in a given house is to completely replace galvanised pipes and any lead service lines.

If you would like to replace your galvanised pipes, service line or find out more information about your options, we will be happy to help you. Welcome to contact us.


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