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Jamma
re-piping 1930s house
Jamma

My home was built in 1938 with a 1960 addition on the back. Recently the water bills have been increasing and I suspect a water leak. Unfortunately, the crawl space under the 1930s part of the house is only about a foot, where all the old galvanized water pipes are. The 1960 addition is on a concrete slab. My plumber is suggesting to repipe the entire house from the attic and down the interior walls. The kitchen and laundry room offer the greatest challenge as the walls are double brick. There is an opening under the dishwasher from a previous water leak repair. My plumber thinks we should cut out a trough in the outside brick, put the pipes in there and cover over, which would be an obvious patch job. Any ideas?

dj1
Re: re-piping 1930s house
dj1

Your plumber's approach is sensible, and if his estimate is comfortable for you (get 2 more bids) - then go with him.

I don't know where your house is, but around here, pipes in the attic means lots of hot water without firing the water heater, in the summer months. My gas bill is low, low, low.

hollasboy
Re: re-piping 1930s house
hollasboy

Galvanized pipes can last a long, long time...but yours are already 77 years old. At some point, you will be forced to replace them, either because of all the leaks, or because you get tired of having to flush out the brown water every time you open a faucet, or tired of your faucets clogging with rust flakes.

A whole-house repiping is expensive, but not as expensive as hiring a plumber to crawl under your house to patch a leak 5 times a year over 10 years, which will eventually happen as your pipes rust out. It just comes down to cost and your plans for the property. If you're selling it in the next couple years, you're better off patching leaks as they occur and pass on the project to the next owner. If you want to stick around for a long time, you'll have to bite the bullet and replace those rusty pipes.

Of course, the plumbing cost and hassle is less if you couple the work with other renovation work, since the plumber will have better access and can make more holes, thus spending less time on the project. Having a crawl space is a huge help for these projects. My plumber spent a lot of time under my house when he repiped my house to eliminate all the galvanized.

Also, repiping gives you a chance to upgrade/resize pipes based on water pressure and demand for the whole house, which may have changed since the addition. You could end up with a better-designed plumbing system with adequate supply at all fixtures.

Finally, when my plumber started pulling those old pipes out of my crawl space, I was disgusted by the interior of those pipes (we found gunk in every color of the rainbow from bacteria eating on the metal), and I was also shocked at how close I was to a total plumbing blowout in numerous sections due to rust and thin pipe walls.

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