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Published on September 17th, 2018 | by Sponsored Content


To Repair or Replace an Old Pipe?

We often think that once something is built, it’ll last forever. Being a developed nation, the US has had its share of facelifts and renovations in the years since development. One of the biggest issues that’s currently being faced is the country’s failing water infrastructure. However, with over a decade under our belts of crumbling water mains making headlines, not much has been done to help the situation.

The country’s aging water infrastructure is a serious problem, with mains bursting under busy streets in New York City, creating area floods, craters, and rupturing gas lines. Reports have been published by the American Water Works Association urging action, as these mains are reaching their expiration date and need attention.


Furthermore, the problem doesn’t just lie in physical breakage and damage, but in costs. The ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) reported that leaks cost seven billion gallons of water a day, which amounts to nearly $3 billion a year. This doesn’t even begin to address the problem of water shortages and how preservation of this resource is of utmost importance.

So, when it comes down to it, the question remains – to repair to replace an old pipe? When is it appropriate to repair them and when is the right time to replace them? Currently, the debate is because of strained budgets, and the high cost associated with replacing pipes. However, repairs have the potential of costing more in the long run than replacements do, so answering this repair over replace question is not a simple task.

There are three factors to consider when mulling over the right decision:

  1. Eventually, repairs will begin to outweigh replacements, as part costs, labour and the expense involved in closing up the work area are all to be taken into consideration. If this same section of pipe is revisited for repairs repeatedly, that’s a pretty good indication that a replacement is more economically sound.
  2. Customer complaints are a big dictator of what steps to take, as problems arising in their area or neighbourhood will not be quietly met. Customers will expect a dependable and working solution, and one that minimizes interruption.
  3. As for the last factor to keep in check, it’s data. Record keeping is required to make informed decisions when it comes to involving thousands upon thousands of dollars. With diligent data records, we can examine repair data, notice trends, and make decisions that will provide the best possible outcome.

Some other questions to ask to get a more detailed answer are:

  • Is the pipe made of outdated materials? If this answers as a yes, then you have your overall answer. Replacement is the only way forward here, as outdated materials are not just completely inefficient, but they also are highly prone to breaks.
  • Additionally, pipes that were installed in earlier decades like the 80s or earlier, might contain lead components, which are hazardous as they can poison your water.
  • How often have leaks been an issue? This question will help you gain a better understanding, as we touched on above. If you have one leak every few years, a repair is probably okay. Several leaks a year though, means it’s a cause for concern and should probably be repaired, saving you time, money, and frustration. A way of detecting possible leaks before they happen is with acoustic leak detection, a more accurate way of determining whether or not your pipes are sturdy enough to last, or if they need complete replacement.

Another helpful determining factor is whether an issue affects just the one pipe, or if its location is within a network of failing pipes, ones that could crumble in a domino effect. If there is concern for more than one pipe, the entire area might be under an improvement plan for replacement, cutting costs and effort in the long run. This is generally the most cost-effective way of dealing with the problem, as well as the least invasive. Once the pipes have been replaced in a conglomerated area, the need for frequent interruptions will cease, allowing for happier nearby residents and businesses, as well as less labour and closures costs.


As with anything, everything eventually comes down to budget and the leverage available to utilize funds. Does the plan in place make financial sense, and is there a budget available for it? Pitching with a strong case and examples will help decision-makers see the need and the allocation of money in a wise and long-term way.

This post was supported by Echologics.

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