Update plumbing?

15 Replies

While opening up the walls in the kitchen in our recent purchase -- a home built in the 40's with galvanized pipes -- I uncovered a leak in the wall behind the tub in the master bath. I already need plumbing work in the second bathroom (a complete remodel), in the kitchen (moving the sink and dishwasher), in the laundry room (total new plumbing), and now the leak in the master bath. Should I just bite the bullet and update everything on the supply side? The water pressure is terrible and I suspect that the pipes are part of the problem.

I would say, since you are already redoing the plumbing in the entire house might as well finish it off and complete the whole project, it would be easier to do it now then to do it later when you have tenants complaining that they have no water because crud from the old supply lines broke loose and are ruining figures and plugging your new install. Plus, those problems always happen when you don't want them to. Remember Karma, she isn't very nice.

Yes, that's the thing to do. The waste lines too.  It will be a plus when you go to sell. 

I sometimes replace galvanized even when there are no leaks. 

Yes,  definitely replace if there a lre a few leaks and the walls are open anyway. 

Take a look at the drain plumbing too. I agree with @Art A., think about  replacing that too. 

That's the direction I was leaning. This is a buy and hold that's about 750 miles away; I definitely don't want plumbing problems later because I didn't do something now.

@Kent Verge  

I'm a buy and hold investor.  Spend the money to make it right.  It will potentially reduce headaches later.  

@Kent Verge  what is the replacement cost your looking? What are the specs of the house? 

I haven't talked to a plumber yet. This started as a pretty simple bathroom makeover, but after looking into some comps, we decided to take it up a notch and update the kitchen too. 

It seems like there's something hidden in every wall that adds to the plan...

What about the main line to the house? You mentioned low water pressure which is why I asked. In my city I can use an excavation guy rather than a plumber and do a main line for $600. If you are are doing a buy and hold I would repipe as well. PEX is wonderful.

I'll be sure to ask the plumber about PEX. I already considered going that way since it would make later maintenance much easier. The house is on water near the coast in Florida, so freezing won't be an issue.

Most plumbers I've met do not like PEX.  Personally I love it.  If I had to guess why they don't like it, it's becaues it cuts their time in a job down, which depending on their demand will cut their pay check down.

Definitely redo the plumbing. As a landlord I have grown to hate water! As the wife of a cowboy I am not allowed to say that out loud :).  We just redid all the plumbing on the supply side from the meter with PEX which included relocating the washer and hot water heater from the kitchen into a laundry room and it cost $3,000.  It was pier and beam, which I would assume would be cheaper than slab.  It was well worth it. We probably should have done the waste lines too. 

PEX is used all over in my area. I like it because if a freeze does occur, PEX has some room for expansion where other materials will burst.

Low water pressure is because of the mineral buildup in your galvanized water lines. They need to go.

I would.  If the marginal cost is already lowered by already having to do the rest of the other work and having holes in the walls and such, do it now.  Pex rules in my area for everything from new construction to rehab.  

Several of my houses are from the 50's with crawl spaces and original galvanized pipe.  I am upping my cap ex budget for those and as soon as troubles come my way, it is time to rip them out and replace with pex.  Thankfully, with crawl spaces, this should be about as easy as possible.  Supply and drains are totally different in my book and without issues, I won't touch one just because I am touching the other.  That is between you and your plumber.

I recently bought my first rental on a slab and had to replace the tub.  With any purchase, I always replace supply lines, shut off valves etc as most properties i buy are aged and in disrepair.  This house had copper lines throughout except for the last 4" of pipe stubbed out through the wall.  For some reason they used galvanized pipe.  This house was built in 1978 and I could see the build up in the galvanized pipe.  I paid the plumber to switch that out for a brass connection everywhere.  That only cost me another $150 in parts and labor.  Well worth it to no longer have galvanized pipe in that house.  No idea why they did that originally.  

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