In the years before copper tubing, galvanized pipe was widely used for water distribution inside homes. The belief was that galvanized pipe did not rust like traditional black-iron pipe. However, galvanized pipe does rust -- from the inside out. This will cause low water pressure and rusty water in a faucet. Low water pressure can be caused by several factors including a clogged showerhead, a partially closed valve or a faulty faucet washer. But if the problem combines rust and low water pressure and is isolated to your shower, there are most likely galvanized pipes feeding your shower faucet.
Galvanized Pipe Restricts Flow
Galvanized pipe cannot be repaired. Instead, galvanized water pipes that are restricting flow and causing rusty water should be replaced with either copper or PEX tubing. This type of work has the potential to be difficult and may require the services of a plumbing professional. When removing galvanized pipes, the first step is to turn off the main water valve. Turn on the shower faucet and another faucet in the house, preferably on a lower level, to drain water from the pipes.
Remove Galvanized Pipe
Cut and remove the pipe beyond the galvanized pipe feeding the shower. You don’t want to leave any galvanized pipes or fittings because even a small piece of corroded pipe can restrict water flow. If the showerhead and faucet are new, the pipes in the walls may have been converted to copper or PEX when these items were installed. If not, the wall behind the shower will need to be cut, providing access to remove galvanized pipe leading to the faucet.
Install New Pipe
After removing all galvanized pipe from the water lines, install new copper or PEX water pipe. PEX may be preferable because it is easier to work with and requires less fittings than copper, reducing labor and installation time. PEX tubing is also less expensive than copper.
Test and Enjoy
After replacing the galvanized pipe, turn off all faucets and then turn on the water main. Check the new pipes for leaks. Turn on the shower faucet and enjoy rust-free, unrestricted water pressure.
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