If the plumbing in your house is several decades old, you'll face a lot of challenges when you need to make repairs. Minerals in the water cause old pipes to corrode and this can cause valves to freeze shut. A job of changing a faucet that would be simple in newer plumbing becomes a difficult task that could be beyond DIY repairs. Here are some problems you might face:
Locked Up Valves
When you have a dripping faucet, one way to stop the leaking is to turn off the valve under the sink. While it isn't a permanent form of repair, it will stop the dripping when the faucet isn't being used so you don't waste water. When your plumbing is old, and the valves haven't been turned in years, there's a good chance the valves will be frozen in the open position. Forcing the valves closed could break them off or cause the shut-off valve to leak, which would further compound your problem. You can try mineral removing cleansers in case the valve is locked up due to mineral buildup around the valve stem. You can also try heating the valve with a blow dryer to loosen it, but using force is not a good idea. You may need to call in a plumbing contractor to repair the faucet and replace the valves so they function properly.
Galvanized pipes that are several decades old are at the end of their life. The insides of your plumbing pipes could be corroded and on the verge of failure. Applying pressure by cutting off the pipes to add new fixtures could lead to crumbling and destruction of the pipe that makes it impossible to repair. When you attempt DIY repairs and they result in a damaged pipe, you'll need to leave the water shut off at the main valve if there is no inside shut off valve to isolate the damaged pipe. If your home is at risk of having deteriorating plumbing, then you should be cautious about attempting DIY repairs so you don't create a situation that leaves you unable to use water. Calling in a plumber to check the condition of your pipes first is the best idea.
It's possible old plumbing pipes are buried under the slab of your home. They could be underground or between walls. That makes it impossible to find leaks in old pipes that have corroded. A pipe could have a tiny leak or a major one and if the pipe is buried, you'll be at a loss to locate the source of the problem. Even if the leak can be seen seeping up through the ground or the foundation of your home, you may not be able to get to the pipe to make repairs if repairs are even possible. A plumber can use equipment to locate water leaks even if they are buried under your foundation. He or she has the skills and knowledge to make the appropriate repairs. If the pipes are in good shape otherwise, the pipe may be dug up and repaired. If the pipe is too corroded, your home may need new pipes installed. This may need to be done by a licensed contractor to comply with local codes.
An old house with old plumbing can be a cause of constant headaches. Repiping your home and updating valves and fixtures makes it much easier to keep up with DIY plumbing repairs in the future.