If a foundation is the heart of your home, drain pipes are more than likely the arteries. Drains and water pipes direct water throughout a home and keep water-dependent areas like the kitchens and bathrooms up and running. Malfunctioning drain pipes disrupt daily activities like cooking, cleaning and daily hygiene practices, and if left unchecked, these problems can quickly get out of hand and become more costly and damaging. Because of the amount of work drains and pipes do, leaks are to be expected, and at times, rerouting pipes is the ideal repair solution.
How, When and Where to Reroute Pipes
Ideally, a professional plumber should take on the task of rerouting pipes. However, if that isn't an option, the first thing to remember is that PEX should be your go-to piping material because it's less expensive and has more flexibility with fewer connection fittings, which will minimize the potential for gaps and leaks. Rerouting pipes requires cutting into the pipes and capping off or repositioning the pipes in a new area.
Rerouting pipes is often the go-to, more painless solution in the event of a slab leak. A slab leak is a breach in the concrete slab of a home that causes water or moisture to seep through. Addressing the leak in the slab often requires digging into the ground with a jackhammer, an invasive and expensive repair option that may require full replacement of the pipes underground. Rerouting the pipes is a good alternative to this.
Where to reroute pipes depends largely on code, but most rerouting jobs direct pipes above ground through the attic. Walls, baseboard boxes, closets and ceilings are also viable places to route pipes with the proper insulation. Rerouting can also be accomplished by digging tunnels or trenches under the house to access pipes, as opposed to tearing up the flooring and support of the home.
In addition to being less invasive, rerouting pipes is a more cost effective solution than digging into a home's concrete slab. Because of the extensive disruption of floorboards and concrete, a full upheaval of a home's foundation and a full replacement of pipes can cost up to $15,000. By contrast, rerouting pipes, especially shorter ones, can cost as little as $200 and can go up to $5,000.
It's important to remember that while rerouting pipes can prevent an unnecessary and costly series of repairs, it is not the be-all, end-all solution for in-home plumbing troubles. If your pipe is too old, a simple reroute can make the rest of your pipes susceptible to breaches and leaks as well. Additionally, it is important to know if your slab leak is an isolated incident or a symptom of the need for a full plumbing overhaul in your home. Ultimately, keeping up with the state of your home and making sure you fix anything as soon as there is a problem will eliminate the need for more expensive, disruptive changes down the line.