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Home Inspection...What do I actually need to fix?

I'm wondering which plumbing issues on the 1896 house I'm purchasing need to be taken care of right away (and which are not necessarily issues). Some background on the house: it's on the far northern California coast, where freezing pipes are not an issue (nor is excessive heat - the summer highs are in the 70s). It's a Victorian on a post/pier foundation, with a roomy crawlspace beneath, so repairing pipes shouldn't be too hard -- right?? Here are the inspector's notes in blue, with my questions in red:

Main Line:
Galvanized. Appears serviceable. Looks like a valve from the city side is leaking. However the meter is not running because of this leak. I'll call city about this, but should I be concerned about lead from the main line?

Supply Lines:
Plastic. There is very poor support for supply lines. CPVC lines viewed at exterior, but underneath the house they turn to PVC, which should not be used under houses. A contractor said that PVC is fine here since there's no chance of them freezing. Also, how does one go about supporting the supply lines??

Fuel Lines:
Galvanized and black pipe. Appears serviceable. What is "black pipe"?

Waste Lines:
Cast Iron and Plastic. P-trap for washing machine standpipe is under floor. Supposed to be above. Also, no vent viewed for same trap which can allow the trap to be siphoned dry. This allows sewer gases to come back up through the drain.[COLOR=red]How difficult will this be to fix? Black ABS vents exposed to sun on north side of house should be painted with white latex paint to deter sun damage.[/COLOR]

Water Heater:
Temperature-pressure relief valve drain line is too small and is crimped in places. Vent cap for water heater is too close to kitchen window and and could get into house through stove hood fan vent. The crimped pipe sounds bad, but it's outdoors and accessible -- easy to fix?? Is the vent cap thing just being overly safety conscious? What could happen other than fogging up the window?

Thanks in advance for any opinions!!

Re: Home Inspection...What do I actually need to fix?

in regards to supporting the pipes. im guessing he means they arent strapped sufficiently enough which keeps teh pipes from shaking and rattling making them noisy. you can get rolls of mteal strap material in any hardware store, simply cut lengths that you can screw one end to a joist then bring it down the pipe wrap it around then back up to the joist with another screw

black pipe- more than likely he means cast iron pipe

definitley get the p-trap installed, the last thing you want is sewer gas coming up into your house

as for vent outside teh kitchen window. there are specific regulations on how close to windows and air exchanger intakes that a ventilation line can be so that any gases or fumes dont come into the building. this may be a simply case of adding to teh existing line, it may need to be complelely redone

your best bet call a plumbing contractor and a ventilation contractor, have them come out and look at things and get their two cents

Re: Home Inspection...What do I actually need to fix?

First, congrats for the purchase of this house.

Main line/supply lines: repipe entire house as soon as you can. I would use only copper type L. Expensive, do you know why? because it's worth it. The supports for the pipes are hangers to keep the pipes from sagging. You can get those hangers at any plumbing supply place.

Gas line: black pipe, sometimes green, is used for gas, so you know it's not water.

Waste lines: not very difficult to repair. Get bids from 3 plumbers. A vent is a must.

Water heater: T&P drain has to be 3/4" copper, not crimped, and down to the ground outside of the house. So replace it. The vent carries CO2, and you don't want that entering your window, it has to be away from windows and doors, secured to the exterior wall, above the roof line.

Get estimates, work a package deal with a good plumber and enjoy the house.

Re: Home Inspection...What do I actually need to fix?

Black pipe is black painted steel pipe used for natural gas lines. Galvanized pipe cannot be used for gas in my fair city.

My 2 cents-

Repair the immediate things that pose a danger. After that, make a long range plan for what you want to remodel in this house. While this plan will change over time, make one anyway. As you start and continue to remodel, you can upgrade everything as you go along; plumbing, electrical, insulation, hvac, a/v. When replacing plumbing for example, think where the new pipes will be run and stub out for them when remodeling the current room. Leave notes, label things, take lots of digital pictures.

This type of plan will add some sense of continuity to your house's development. The plan can also be handed over to the next owner if something happens where you can't continue. Its always nice to follow a contractor who thought about the next guy coming along to work.

Re: Home Inspection...What do I actually need to fix?

Regarding black pipes for gas, Houston, they are first choice in California and preferred by inspectors and contractors. But galvanized for gas is not a code violation in most cities.

As more and more homes a repiping with copper, galvanized water pipes are disappearing from view. You know what, I love them - they keep us in business...

Re: Home Inspection...What do I actually need to fix?

My fair city just adopted the 2006 plumbing code this past December. (yes you read that right)Maybe they changed some things.

Re: Home Inspection...What do I actually need to fix?

If your city supply valve is leaking, it needs to be replaced or , if its a valve with packing, repacked. Your galvanized feed line will eventually rust out. I had to replace mine in our older house with K copper. That cost me about $1800.
Go to your DYI supplier and buy hanger for your plastic lines. They should be of the like material as the line they are supporting. If they were metal, use the same kind or wrap them in tape where they contact the hanger. No dissimilar metals.
Black pipe is for your natural gas but where is this "galvanized" line listed under fuel lines?
Its sounds like your washer drain was originally a floor drain. Get a professional to look at that one.
The line from your T&P valve should be 3/4" , the same as the outlet from that valve. Our code calls for it to be within 6" of the floor. The inspector was worried about fumes getting into your house from the vent.

Re: Home Inspection...What do I actually need to fix?

This is too late for the OP who was closing on his house . . . these are what I was charged for isolated calls by plumbers in No. Calif. and No. Virginia during past year (2010-11).

(1) Disconnect unused whole house water softener from inlet service pipe in garage; cap ends of pipe. $159 , time , 20 minutes plus travel.

(2) 1965 tub cold water faucet -- ordered & installed new value stem (stop was leaking) - $179, time unknown (wasn't home), travel included.

(3) Replaced 2 laundry supply valves that connected to clothes washer -- $369, time unknown, travel included.

Don't expect any "professional" to visit and actually do work for less than $100.

Re: Home Inspection...What do I actually need to fix?


The USA is pricing itself out of the market.

Re: Home Inspection...What do I actually need to fix?

Drifting a little off topic here.

Almost no professional, regardless of trade, will charge less than one hour's labor for a house call, even for a 30-second "I shoulda known it" fix. Many will also charge for travel. Expect after-hours calls to be charged at 1.5 times the regular rate, and holiday/weekend calls to be charged double or more. On certain holidays they may flat refuse. You may be taking them away from other paying jobs or their families.

If you call after hours or weekends, expect to pay the going hourly rate for time spent in travel (between being called and arriving) in addition to any per-mile charge. If you call early in the morning, you'll be paying the professional to take a shower and eat breakfast. (Once when a customer called me at 5:00 am on New Year's Day to fix a major computer problem, I did bill them for the time spent taking a shower and grabbing a bite to eat before I drove in to their office.)

That's why it's so important to know how to shut off electricity, gas, water, and HVAC appliances in your house: emergency calls can get VERY expensive very quickly. Being able to shut off these systems may allow you to call the professional during regular business hours saving you a lot of cash.

Re: Home Inspection...What do I actually need to fix?

Black Iron Pipe is just that, Iron Pipe that is NOT treated with a galvanized coating used for potable water systems. Either pipe is acceptable for Natural Gas, but Black Iron Pipe can NOT be used on potable or drinking water, since IT rusts easily. CPVC in my opinion is garbage and if NOT supported with Plastic strapping, pipe will vibrate and leak over time. If you consider re-piping using PEX with a Manifold System is most cost effective over Copper Tubing, which is still the best for potable water in my opinion...

Depending on the age of the Water Mains in your city - there may be lead "service lines" that bring water from Cast Iron Water Mains to the Water Meter - even if this is the case, running your faucet for a several seconds will flush any lead from the system that might be present. Remember that ANY brass faucet has some lead in IT too, so running the water several seconds before drinking from your faucet is a good idea...

There is no problem with a drain trap below the floor - not having proper venting is an issue on a pump fixture, which is what a washing machine is. You may have to use a plumber to fix this, since many times the trap has to be removed/replaced to add fittings necessary to vent properly...

Many older homes have T&P or Temperature and Pressure Relief Valves with 3/8" O.D. copper drain lines, which are easily crimped. Also, if you have a small diameter T&P drain line, IT is probably time to replace the T&P Valve too. T&P drain lines generally must be made of a metallic pipe - either copper or galvanized iron pipe and sized to the T&P outlet on the water heater - usually 3/4"...

The flue vent on a Gas Water Heater, if too close to a window and not above the Roof Line of your Home, can easily bring dangerous Carbon Monoxide Combustion Gases back into your home through the window if left open. Safety 1st Please...

I hope this helps...

Friendly Home Services Baton Rouge...


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