Things to look out for in older properties

By Brett Hawkins [email protected]

Brett Hawkins is the Managing Director of GMT 24:7, the first Home Emergency Response Service in the Algarve, delivering a rapid response to any household emergency, 24:7.

Older properties can often have more charm and character than their modern, newer alternatives, but they are not without their potential problems, and really should be carefully considered.

It is always sound advice to instruct an independent qualified engineer/surveyor to carry out a thorough search on the property before you decide to buy. 

One aspect in particular that should always be a consideration is the plumbing, whether the property still has its old original iron pipe work. 

Unlike the majority of properties in the UK, where the pipe work is easily accessible under the floorboards or in the roof space, properties here in Portugal are traditionally constructed with all pipe work set in to the concrete floors, or as an integral part of the walls.  This makes any reparation works to existing old iron pipes a nightmare, often resulting in complete floor sections having to be broken up just to locate the source of the leak. 

This can prove to be very costly, having to deal with all the disruption, demolition and redecoration that is necessary to return the property to its former habitable state. 

And it is impossible to guarantee that it will stop there. Once older properties begin to show their age with one leak, there will often be more to face in the future. 

Without doubt the most viable solution in these circumstances is to condemn the original iron pipe work, bite the bullet and invest in the modern alternative, PEX tubing (pictured below). 

PEX tubing is the standard material that is used in all new build properties here in Portugal. It is made from cross-linked high density polyethylene polymer (HDPE), and is scientifically proven to be the most advanced material within the construction industry today. 

With careful planning and attention to detail, the PEX system can be relatively pain-free to install, and it’s a job that only needs to be tackled once.

This results in less disruption and demolition work in the long term as compared to the regular maintenance and fixing of leaks that will inevitably be required with the dilapidated existing iron pipe work. 

Whilst the PEX system is traditionally set into the walls, and it doesn’t come with any guarantee that there won’t be any leaks in the future, it is an extremely versatile system.

If installed correctly, by an experienced tradesman, in the event of a leak there is no need to break-up any floor sections or expose any pipe work which might have been set in the wall.

The system is simply drained, the affected pipe can be removed and replaced without any disruption or demolition. 

An investment in a new PEX system might be more expensive than repairing one leak in the short term, but it will save you a great deal of disruption and money in the long term. 

For peace of mind and to find out more on any of the details contained within this article, consult a reputable experienced firm, such as GMT 24:7. 

Brett Hawkins from GMT 24:7 can be contacted on

Tel +351 282 098 600 or email [email protected] For more information about GMT 24:7, please visit