You just bought an older home, a fixer upper, as some call it. But you know that older homes can have issues in a number of areas — wiring, heating, foundation, roof, and, last but not least, plumbing.

What are the problems you are likely to face in a home with older plumbing? Here are a few things to look for:

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  1. Materials no longer in use.

Homes of different ages have different materials used for pipes. Generally, homes that were built from the 1960s and later use PVC pipes. They are made of hard white plastic.

But some older homes made more than 50-plus years ago may have pipes made of other materials, such as galvanized iron, brass or polybutylene.

The galvanized iron pipes are actually made of steel with a zinc coating. With age, however, the zinc wears out, and that leads to problems with the pipes. Wear and tear could contaminate the water with various materials, including lead.  Pipes can clog and even leak more easily. Water pressure can drop, as well.

Like the galvanized iron, brass pipes can become corroded over time. Brass pipes can last a long time but their useful life is in large part determined by how corrosive the water is. Lime can also be a problem when you have brass pipes, causing them to become clogged.

  1. Outdated drains, vents and valves.

Just like piping, these things have changed, as well. Some older homes lack a vent system, which helps with drainage. Older homes rely on gravity for the drains to function. But, as the structures settle with age, the drains may not work as well, leading to odors and poor drainage.

If your home is so old that it does not have vents, or the vents are small ones, this also could affect how well your pipes drain and could lead to a buildup of toxic gasses.

If you are having drainage problems, you may have to replace the entire system. Modern systems use cast iron, copper and plastic for drains and vents.

Valves might also be a problem in older homes. Shutoff valves and gate valves can become loose, causing leaks. If valves are not working properly, it also becomes difficult to shut off water to your home if you need to. These types of valves are located at toilets and sinks, along with a main shutoff valve for the house.

With all of these things, your best bet is to get a licensed plumber in to inspect your pipes, drains, vents and valves to see if they need to be replaced. Plumbing Dynamics is here to help new Dallas-area homeowners. Contact us at 214-929-3431 or send us an e-mail message.