Living in an older home has its advantages if you love a house with character. Unfortunately, it can also come with its share of problems, particularly if your home still has its original plumbing. You know the adage about ?an ounce of prevention,? and this is true when it comes to taking some steps to protect your pipes and other plumbing fixtures.?

Take a look at some simple things you can do to prevent plumbing problems in older homes.



Conquer Clogs Before They Start

When you move into an older home, you can?t be sure of how well the previous owners (and the ones before them) cared for the pipes. You should still make every effort to keep various materials out of your drains, however.?

Particularly if you have a septic system, it?s important to avoid putting food scraps and cooking grease down the sinks. Carefully scrape plates and collect grease in a can to throw away later.?

The only things that should be flushed down the toilets are the obvious substances.? Don?t flush paper towels, tissues, paper napkins, feminine hygiene products, kitty litter, or anything else. If you do have a clog in your toilet, there are ways you can try to fix it yourself.

If your drains are slow, you can try plunging or pouring hot water down them. It?s best to avoid chemical drain cleaners, especially if you don?t know what kind of pipes you have. If simple DIY methods don?t work, call a plumber to take care of it so you don?t accidentally damage old pipes.


Replace Old Pipes If You See These Signs

Old homes might come with lovely original hardwood flooring and character-filled plaster walls. They often include original plumbing, which can cause problems as the years roll by. Here are some signs that you might need to have your pipes replaced sooner rather than later:

  • Orange-tinged water. If your old home?s pipes are made of metal, they can corrode. Often, this will begin to turn your water a bit orange. If you suspect corrosion, check inside of your toilet tanks, as it might show up there first.
  • Water damage on walls or floors. Some old homes were plumbed with polybutylene pipes. These are notorious for failing and leaking. If you see areas of water damage, hear a dripping sound in the walls, or notice soft or damp spots, address this immediately. If you know that you have polybutylene pipes, you might consider getting them replaced right away to prevent these issues.
  • Persistent slow draining or clogs. In some older homes, the pipe leading to the sewer line can begin to sag, creating what is called a pipe belly. This should be addressed when you notice it. If you don?t have the pipe replaced, it could lead to a backup of sewage into your home.?


Address Problems With Tree Roots?

If you have trees on or near your property, tree roots can grow into your pipes. This is often a problem in older homes that have clay pipes, but it can happen to any type of plumbing materials. Frequent clogs or trouble draining are the two main signs of this issue.

Don?t plant trees with extensive root systems near your pipes. If you have a septic system, avoid planting in or near the drain field. Talk to your plumber or a septic company to find out where the drain field is.

If there are already roots around your pipes, there are DIY solutions involving rock salt, but this should only be attempted if a plumber has seen your pipes and recommends it. Otherwise, you risk doing more harm than good. Call in a professional to inspect and assess the situation before you try at-home solutions.



You can prevent plumbing problems in old homes by watching for signs that your pipes need help and working to keep them as healthy as possible. Contact Freedle Plumbing with any questions or to schedule an inspection.