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  • Writer's pictureZack Jurkowski

Why We Change Plumbing During Renovations (Even If It's Not Leaking)

It's a common misconception that, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. This is especially true when it comes to home renovations and plumbing work. People often think that they should only change their plumbing if there is an actual problem, like a leaky pipe.

However, this isn't always the best course of action. In this blog post, we will explain why we often change plumbing during renovations, even if there are no visible problems with it.

"It Works" ≠ "It Works Properly"

There are a few reasons why we may want to change plumbing during renovations, even if it appears to be working fine. Even in newer homes, there are occasionally circumstances with the plumbing that are less than perfect and can be improved.

A great example is a project we recently worked on. The home was built in 2015 by a formidable builder. When we went to update the bathroom, we noticed that there was a screw missing in one of the pieces of pipe strapping (the material that holds the pipe in place to keep it from sagging).

The pipe had developed a sag in the middle of the run, which led to an accumulation of water and waste in the pipe. This issue was compounded by the fact that all this weight was in an unsupported section. This not only caused noticeably slow drainage and occasional blocks over the years, but it also created a small failure in an adjacent fitting. The failed fitting had caused a minor slow leak that led to a bit of mold growth behind the wall without anyone noticing.

Proactive Work Costs Less Than Reactive Work

In older places, the plumbing system is usually suboptimal or has existing issues. We often see galvanized water lines that are filled to capacity with rust, which leads to weak water pressure and potential clogging of fixtures like faucets. We also see cast iron or galvanized steel drain pipes that, aside from being extremely heavy compared to newer materials, are often clogged.

Every component of a home has an expiration date. A great example is a roof. Typically, the installation is guaranteed for 10 years, the roof material is guaranteed for 20-30. This doesn't mean the roof will leak in 11 years, nor in 21 or 31 years. It may last 25 or 40 years under the right conditions and with a bit of luck. However, if you've experienced severe water damage from a roof failure, you'll agree that it's wise to replace something before it fails.

Protect Your Investment

Renovations are for the long haul. The last thing we would ever wish on someone is to go through all the work of a renovation, just to have a leak a year later. Imagine investing $35,000 into your dream bathroom without changing the plumbing behind your new shower, and having that shower leak a year later.

In short, it would be a nightmare. We've assisted in repairing brand new renovations that fail due to failure in plumbing or waterproofing. It's a heartbreaking situation.

How Contractors Look At It

As independent contractors, plumbers, like the general contractors and electricians responsible for your renovation, are staking more than the cost of your job. They are staking their reputation on your job. If they complete the work and it fails, it would be a PR nightmare, which would hurt their future chances at winning contracts.

Reputable contractors often have a one year guarantee on workmanship, and are not willing to stake their livelihood on someone else's work, or 25 year old plumbing. This is another reason it is often recommended to change the existing plumbing. Trying to save it is pennywise, but pound-foolish.

If you're planning on renovating your home, always remember to factor in the potential cost of changing your plumbing, even if it appears to be working fine. It's better to be safe than sorry, and you'll be glad you made the change when everything is said and done.


Montreal Contractors is a qualified company, holding an active bonded license as a General Contractor and Specialized Contractor with the Régie du Bâtiment du Québec (RBQ License: 5767-5480-01), ASP Health & Safety Certification and a $2M liability policy. Our employees have all passed background checks, are registered with CNESST and have their ASP Health and Safety certification.

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