Home Improvement

How much does it cost to install or replace plumbing?

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Your house needs new plumbing. You have a large project on your hands, whether it’s due to toxic lead pipes, problem-prone polybutylene pipes or a separate issue entirely, and you’ll want to know the cost to replumb your house.

The good news is that you have options, even if the average cost to repipe a house is more than you can comfortably fork over out of pocket. There are financing options you can lean on to make sure the cost to plumb your house doesn’t infringe on your budget or that vacation you’ve been planning.

Before you start considering the finance options, though, it’s important to know what to expect when it comes to the cost to plumb a house.

Average cost to plumb a home

All you need is some simple math if you want a true ballpark estimate as to the cost of the project. Multiply your home’s square footage by $4.50, which experts say is the national average for installing new plumbing or taking on major plumbing upgrades.

That’s only relevant if you need to fully replumb your house, though. Perhaps you only need to replace a section of plumbing. In that case, the cost to repipe a house comes down to determining exactly how much plumbing you need to replace and how hard the section of plumbing is to access. In most cases, replacing a section of piping will run you about $1,000.

Ultimately, the cost to plumb a house depends on factors unique to the home itself and its existing plumbing, if it has any.

Factors that impact the cost of plumbing a home

Several factors will affect the cost of your plumbing project, including whether the project is a replumb or new construction. Other factors, like the materials you plan to use and the complexity of the issue.

  • Labor costs: The cost of labor will have a significant impact on what your plumbing project ends up costing you. The more hands needed on the project, the more the price tag will be.
  • Size of the home or project: The size of the project will directly affect how much it will cost you. The cost to replumb an entire structure will be significantly more than smaller fixes, and the size of the house will also help determine the price. The more square footage that needs to be worked on, the more the project will cost you.
  • New build vs. replumbing: The price of plumbing a new build will differ from what it costs to repipe a house. It will, in general, cost less to install the same length of the same plumbing material in a new build because things like drywall and insulation won’t be in the way. When you have to repipe a house, you have to get through those obstacles to access the plumbing, which takes more time and work. Don’t cut corners on the plumbing if you’re building a new home. You’ll want it to last decades before any replacements or repairs are required.
  • Type of material: Pipes made of brass, copper and galvanized steel are known to have a longer life but they will cost more upfront. These types of pipes are also rigid, so installing them is a time consuming process. If you want to lower the cost of repiping your house, there is an alternative. Ask your plumber about cross-linked polyethylene tubing, or PEX, which is a flexible, plastic-based tubing that can fill in sections of plumbing. It’s cheaper on the front end and can be installed more quickly than other types of pipes because it’s easier to feed into your walls, which also helps keep labor costs down. That said, PEX has only been widely used for about a decade, so the jury is still out on how long it will hold up.

How to know it’s time to replumb your house

The best way to know your pipes need some love is to look at the exposed pipes in your attic, basement and utility spaces. If you see any signs of corrosion, including discoloration or dimpling, it’s time to call a plumber to assess the situation.

You can also determine the health of your plumbing by watching for water leaks. Find your water meter and jot down what the meter is reading at. Wait for two hours while making sure that no water is being used at your house during that time before checking the meter again. If the reading isn’t exactly the same, you’ve likely got a leak somewhere.

If you notice any yellow or brown discoloration, call a plumber. It could be a sign of rusty pipes. It will be worth the hassle. Left untended, problematic pipes can burst, and water damage isn’t cheap.

How to plan for plumbing installation

If the plumbing project is on a new build, you’re in luck. The only thing you’ll need to worry about is the cost to plumb the house.

If you’re replumbing a home you’re living in, there is more than just the cost of the plumbing job to consider. You will need to prepare for the work and the impact it will have on your daily life.

For example, if you need the plumbing replaced throughout your home, get ready to live in a construction zone. Your plumber will work to minimize the invasiveness of the project, but it’s going to mean living with holes in walls and construction dust. You can prepare for the project by moving valuables and electronics and covering furniture.

The plumbing project will also likely mean that the water at your house will be shut off for at least a couple of days. Ask your plumber about the timeline and how long you’ll be without water. You may want to make a hotel reservation.

Tips to save on plumbing

Plumbing projects aren’t cheap, but there are ways you can keep the cost down while replumbing your house. For example:

  • Be proactive.Don’t wait until you have a full-blown plumbing disaster on your hands. A plumber who is called to an emergency is going to be more expensive than a plumber on a scheduled job. Check your pipes regularly so you can stay ahead of significant issues.
  • Set your plumber up for success. The material cost of plumbing a house is relatively fixed, but you can take steps to limit the number of labor hours to keep your overall costs down. Make sure furniture is cleared away from any areas your plumber will need to access and check that the lighting is adequate in each area. Keep pets and kids out of the way, too.
  • Consider your piping options. PEX piping is cheaper than metal piping options, both upfront and to install. If you’re concerned about the cost of your project, consider this alternative.

Plumbing financing options

Most plumbing projects are an investment and can cause financial stress. The cost to plumb your house doesn’t have to come out of your savings or your vacation fund, though, and it doesn’t mean you have to rack up credit card debt, either. There are other ways to finance a major plumbing repair, including:

Personal loans

A personal loan is exactly what it sounds like — a loan you borrow from a bank or lender that can be used for your wants or needs. In this case it can cover the cost to replumb your house.

Securing a personal loan is a bit more work than simply swiping your card, though. Your credit and income will come into consideration, as will any other qualifying factors your bank has set, so your finances will need to be in order for you to take advantage of this type of financing.

Still, the hoops could be worth jumping through, considering that credit cards have an average interest rate of over 17% while personal loans can run at as low as a 6% interest rate. The better your credit, the lower the interest rate you’ll qualify for.

Personal loans are also often approved in a short time frame. You can usually get personal loan financing quickly if you need to deal with your plumbing problems right away.

Home equity loan

If you own a home, the equity you’ve built up can actually help cover the cost to plumb it. You borrow against your home’s equity with a home equity loan, and your home serves as collateral, which means you’ll likely score a lower interest rate if you go this route rather than a personal loan.

If your plumbing project is a major expense, a home equity loan might be a better option than a personal loan. Most personal loans have a relatively short term, which means you’ll have to pay them off sooner with higher monthly payments. A home equity loan, on the other hand, offers a longer term and brings down your monthly cost.

Home equity line of credit

If you plan to complete your plumbing project in stages and want to pay for it as you go, you might want to consider a home equity line of credit, or HELOC.

A HELOC is another way to borrow against the equity in your house, but it works more like a credit card than a lump-sum loan. With a HELOC, your lender will give you a line of credit that’s equal to a percentage of the equity you[‘ve built up in your home. You can use as much or as little as you need, and you can borrow from it as you go, making HELOCs an ideal option if you’re unsure what it will cost to repipe your house upfront.

New plumbing is costly, but it doesn’t have to be a punch to the financial gut if you’re smart about educating yourself and exploring your financing options. With a little research, you can get the plumbing you need — and the money to pay for it.