Repiping: How to replace plumbing in an old house?

Austin Palmer

If you’ve ever lived in an old house, you know they’re full of character—and plumbing that sometimes seems as ancient as the pyramids! Repiping isn’t just about preventing leaks; it’s about making your home safer and more efficient. Let’s dive into how you can tackle this monumental task, whether you plan to DIY or call in the pros.

Understanding Your Plumbing System

Before you start swinging a wrench, it’s crucial to know what you’re dealing with. Old houses often feature a mix of materials, some of which might be outdated or even hazardous.

Types of Pipes Found in Old Houses

  • Galvanized Steel: Common in homes built before the 1960s, these pipes are tough but prone to corrosion and clogging over time.
  • Cast Iron: Especially found in sewer lines, cast iron is durable but heavy and can crack.
  • Copper: Used for decades due to its longevity and resistance to corrosion.

Knowing what materials you have can dictate how you replace them and what you replace them with.

Identifying the Scope of Replacement

It’s like being a detective in your own home. Tap on walls to locate pipes, check under floors, and inspect areas for visible signs of deterioration. Remember, sometimes it’s not about replacing everything but fixing what’s necessary.

Preparing for Repiping

Like any big project, the right tools and planning can make all the difference between a nightmare and a smooth operation.

Tools and Materials Needed for Repiping

Get ready with pipe cutters, wrenches, fittings, and new pipes. Choosing materials like PEX or updated copper can be a game-changer due to their durability and ease of installation.

Planning Your Repiping Approach

Map out your existing plumbing and decide the best route for new pipes. It’s a good idea to consult local building codes and perhaps secure permits if you’re making significant changes.

Step-by-Step Guide to Repiping

Accessing the Pipes

You might need to remove some drywall or lift floorboards to get to the pipes. It’s like a surgical operation—precision is key to avoid unnecessary damage.

Removing Old Pipes

Once you’ve exposed the old pipes, removing them can be straightforward but laborious. For galvanized pipes, this might involve some muscle, as they can be heavy and unwieldy.

Installing New Pipes

  • Measuring and Cutting: Measure twice, cut once is the golden rule here.
  • Fitting: Secure the new pipes with the right fittings, ensuring they’re snug and leak-free.

Testing the System

Turn the water back on and check for leaks at every joint. It’s better to catch issues now than after you’ve patched the walls back up!

Addressing Common Challenges for Repiping

Dealing with Limited Space

In tight spots, flexible materials like PEX piping can be a lifesaver. They bend around corners and require fewer connections, which means fewer chances for leaks.

Preserving the Integrity of the House

Be mindful of the structure and aesthetics. For instance, running new pipes inside closets or behind cabinets can keep your home’s charm intact.

Hiring a Professional vs. DIY

When to Call a Professional for Repiping

If you find yourself staring down a maze of pipes unsure of where to start, it might be time to call in a pro. Major installations or anything involving gas or main sewer lines should also be handled by a licensed plumber.

Benefits of Professional Involvement

Hiring someone from Vaquero Plumbing, for instance, means the job will be done efficiently and up to code. Plus, there’s something to be said for peace of mind, which is often worth every penny!


Replacing plumbing in an old house can be daunting, but with the right tools, preparation, and knowledge, it’s entirely doable. Whether you go it alone or hire a professional, updating your plumbing is a solid investment in your home’s health and your own comfort. Need advice or help? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Vaquero Plumbing. We’re here to make sure your plumbing is in tip-top shape!

So, roll up your sleeves (or pick up the phone!) and get ready to give your old home the modern touch it deserves without losing any of the charm. Happy plumbing!