Home Improvement

How much does it cost to install or replace plumbing?

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The plumbing system is one of the most important parts of your home. While the costs to install or replace plumbing vary greatly and depend on many factors, you can expect to pay anywhere from a couple hundred to several thousand dollars.

If you don’t have the cash to cover plumbing costs out-of-pocket, you may still be able to use financing options to make it easier and more affordable to maintain your plumbing system. Before you start considering financing, it’s a good idea to understand the costs to plumb a house.

Calculating the average cost to plumb a home

All you need is some simple math if you want a 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.

If you only need to replace a section of plumbing, 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. Replacing a section of piping will likely run between $356 and $1,869.

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. Some of these factors include:

  • Labor costs: The cost of labor will have a significant impact on what your plumbing project costs overall. The more hands needed on the project, the more the price tag will be. The cost will also be higher for more complex jobs that need more expert workers.
  • 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, 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 last.

How to know it’s time to replumb your house

The best way to know your pipes need attention 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, 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. Wait for two hours while making sure that no water is used at your house during that time before checking the meter again. If the reading is not the same, you probably have 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, the only thing you’ll need to worry about is the cost to plumb the house. If you’re replumbing a home you live 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, you will live in a construction zone for a while. 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 may be ways you can keep the cost down while replumbing your house:

  • Be proactive. Don’t wait until you have a 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.

Cost estimates for plumbing projects

Every plumbing project is unique. Therefore, you’ll pay a different price to replace a water heater than to repair a sump pump. In addition to the type of plumbing work you need done, the plumber or company you choose and your geographic location will impact what you’ll pay. Here’s a brief overview of the average costs of some of the most common plumbing projects.

Project Average cost
Water heater install $1,082
Water heater repair $588
Septic tank cleaning $408
Sump pump repair $508
Water main install $1,569
Toilet repair $240
Shower install $5,573
Sewer inspection $698
Toilet install $372
Sink install $398
Drain line breakage repair $696

 

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.

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 be considered, 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 have in it can 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.

Written by
Kacie Goff
Personal Finance Contributor
Kacie Goff is a personal finance and insurance writer with over seven years of experience covering personal and commercial coverage options. She writes for Bankrate, The Simple Dollar, NextAdvisor, Varo Money, Coverage, Best Credit Cards and more. She's covered a broad range of policy types — including less-talked-about coverages like wrap insurance and E&O — and she specializes in auto, homeowners and life insurance.
Edited by
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