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Re-piping

Anybody has recent experience with repiping the house? Mine is 40 years old and has original pipes. What's involved in repiping? What's the cost?
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September 12 2007 - US
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Replies (19)

Depends on the Building Code in your area and the type and method of construction of your house. Slab on grade is a PITA to repipe. Mine has a crawl space so it was relatively easy and all of the bathrooms/kitchen were close to one another.
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September 12 2007
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My house is only 1,200 sq. feet and everything is close... It has a crawl space as well.


sas912: How long it took to repipe your house? And what was the price tab?

Thanks!!!
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September 12 2007
Then you are lucky, they will just do the repiping from underneath. How much that would cost I have no idea, in Phoenix we to slab on grade or aqua pex overhead.
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September 12 2007
Old House,

I did not do it all at once although I did have all the supply lines (copper) replaced under the house at one time. Then I replaced the pipes in the walls to the kitchen and downstairs bath when I redid the kitchen and the pipes in the master bath when I redid that room. I am hoping to redo the other bathroom upstairs next year along with the bathroom and the kitchen in the apartment over the garage. I have about 3400 sf and all together the plumbing, including moving things around probably cost me about $7000 over the years. That included doing the waste lines as well except under ground.

If the supply lines are copper, make sure they really need to be replaced before doing the work. And if the waste lines are cast iron and PVC they really just need to see if there are ahy holes in the cast iron and make certain the connections to the PVC are tight (that usually involves replaced that wire clamp thing.
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September 13 2007
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My water pipes are galvanized steel and they run through the attic. I don't see any rust in the water, but the pressure is very low. Feels like the replacement is needed. Is there any advantage of running the pipes under the house vs. attic?

I know nothing of the waste lines, and haven't thought of replacing them at all. Thanks for bringing it up!
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September 13 2007
Those are most likely not your plumbing pipes but rather your vent stacks. Water pressure problem does not mean you need to re-pipe. You only repipe when you have leaks that are beyond repair or continue to occur.

Get a bunch of estimates and I mean a bunch. You just might have a supply leak in the water main and the pressure is low. Or, it could be a bunch of other things.

Call the water company first to find out why the pressure is low. Maybe they can save you the hassle of calling on plumbing vendors by diagnosing the pressure problem and telling you what it is. Also, it might be their fault and fix it for free.
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September 13 2007
Old House,

Pipes in the attic by definition are out of sight so when they do develope a problem your first notice is usually leaking into the house from the ceiling. If the pipes are under the house, then should they develop a leak, its generally not water coming into the house that alerts you to a problem so that is a huge advantage. Water pressure being low can mean either a blockage which seems odd in a "supply line" or a leak which in galvanized pipe is not uncommon - that is part of the reason many building departments require supply lines to be copper.

If the plans for your house are on file with your building department there might be a schematic showing you a map of how the plumbing lines run. Do all of your faucets suffer from low pressure? Or is it only a part of the house? If you put your ear next to the wall in that room where the pipes are does it sound like there is water running somewhere? Have you noticed an increase in your water bill? These are indicators that you have a leak on the supply side. If you think this is what the problem is, there are companies that for about $200 will come out and run a scope in the line and tell you where the leak is (or if you have multiple leaks.)

My philosophy is if I am going to make a repair, I only want to do it once so I want to do it right the first time and then not think of it again. Doesn't work for everyone, but it works for me. Use a licensed plumber to do the work, and get a permit for the work so that they will have to prove that the work was done properly. Good luck.
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September 13 2007
Profile picture for CORONA NICK
Plumbing repairs are sometimes a PITA..... fixing on leak doesnt necessarily mean that same pipe in an other area wont have a leak, so, repiping might be a peace of mind but will surely cost more.
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October 05 2007
Profile picture for mspooley
I bought a neglected 1938 Los angeles Bungalow, 988sqft.
Called a large plumbing co for an estimate to repipe, and the plumber who came out offered to do the house himself (under the table, on his own time) for $3500.
The co he worked for would have charged almost double had I hired them.

Excellent job, all copper. So glad I did that!
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October 09 2007
mspooley,

Glad it worked out for you but too often the guy working "off the clock" does a bad job, cuts corners, something goes wrong, or they get paid and never finish and the homeowner is out the money and then has to fix the substandard work done by the off-the-clock guy. There is a certain security in knowing you are hiring a company that is pulling a permit and that the work is going to be inspected. At least then if something goes wrong, you theoretically have recourse.
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October 09 2007
Profile picture for termoli
I also have old galvinized pipes...and they do get rust/clogged inside so the flow and pressure is limited...In older houses or in houses built with galvanized iron pipes, mineral deposits are unavoidable over time...
I heard this thing: a High Pressure Water Jetter.
These high pressure water jets break up clogs and debris leaving you with a clean pipe and no snake cables to tangle with.
HAS any1 tryd this out?
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October 10 2007
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We have a few rentals, 1928 through 1940 builds... one of the first things we do after purchase is replace the galvanized supply lines starting at the water meter. The difference in water flow is amazing. I don't know your geographic location but I can tell you the cost to replace the galvanized pipes in our units (in Ohio) started at $3000.00 (licensed plumber) to include pipes going to the second floor. This included some projected drywall & carpenter repairs. Keep in mind we have full basements to work with.

If you consider yourself handy, most of the copper pipe runs can be done yourself. Solder the joints, don't use compression fittings and have a licensed plumber inspect. The larger hardware stores usually have plumbing classes that will get you started and feeling more comfortable. You will save around 85%-90%.

We typically don't do much with the waist water pipes unless they are leaking or clogged. Clogged pipes are either snaked or replaced with PVC.
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October 12 2007
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I had a townhome (1100 sq ft) that was piped originally with PB pipes. The PB stands for Polybutylene (spelling?). This type of piping is notorious for failing and flooding the house and therefore it has been banned and is a MUST replace. I was trying to sell the house and had to have it repiped in order to sell. It costed us around $4,000 and involved the contractor to rip into the walls and ceilings as this piping was used from the water meter to every fixture in the house. The work was done after I moved out and before the new people moved in so I can not comment on the timeframe that it took to complete the job.
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October 18 2007
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You may only have calcium build up in the lines since you indicate no rust comes out. OR, you may just need to clean your areator screens and valves.

If I were you, before I did ANYTHING else, I would take off all areator screens and run water full blast to see if it clears your problem. Then check the aereators. If too hard to clean, then replace. If just a bit if sand, disassemble, rince backward, and use a straight pin to remove lodged pieces.

Also, remove hose/tube from toilet tank, run water full force into a bucket. If flowing smoothly but tank is still slow to fill, replace toilet valve in tank with Flowmaster. (Flowmaster can be cleaned by turning top to open, and running water).

If you have substantual calcium or iron oxide built up in your lines and the pipes are difficult to get to, you may consider having a company sandblast the pipes out, and if they were corroded, treated with epxoy on the enterior befor replacing valves and reconnecting... For example:

http://www.aceduraflo.com/
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November 06 2007
Why go with copper? Its expensive and is difficult for the average homeowner to work with due to the soldering involved. I have been replacing my waterlines in my rentals and rehabs with CPVC. Its about 1/3 the cost of copper and glues together. It also eliminated the opportunity for theft during a vacancy or while on vacation. Copper is bringing good money at the scrap yards and stolen pipes is a growing issue, at least in my area.

If you have galvanized pipes, get rid of them. They are problems waiting to happen due to their age. If you have older copper, you might want to test the water for lead. Lead was used in older solder.
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November 16 2007
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The PVC is not rated for as high a preasure. Some are also concerned the vinal may be toxic if ingested. In many areas, PVC does not meet the code for building interiors.

Copper is not that hard to learn to work with, especially with a little practice and a Map Gas torch with trigger start. It is easier than dealing with cutting and threading steel, and trying to get the threads sufficiently tight.

If the galvanized is not corroding, there is no reason to replace it. If there is calcium deposits restricting flow, they often can be cleaned out. Even if substantually corroding, they are often so thick that a leak is unlikely if treated soon enough.

The Epoxy coating will work for either copper that is too thin and has been damaged by excessive minerals, or for corroding galvanized steel. The reason for using the epoxy is having a substantual amount of pipe in walls, between floors, under slabs, or otherwise in inaccessible locations. If you have good crawl space, only one story, very little conduit in walls, replacement is better than epoxy treatment. But there are different solutions as different situations have different obsticles and needs.

But as stated before, it sounds like you can just clean the system with existing water supply by removing the aerators.

Still wondering why you have not responded to let us know if the problem is getting resolved or if there are further issues.
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November 17 2007
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Well... the time has come for me to repipe my house... Ive already had 2 slab leaks within a year from each other and Im not willing to wait for another... Ive called 2 companies for estimates, next week they will come and provide estimates... any good questions you guys think I should ask?
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November 29 2007
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Sorry everyone: I've started the discussion and got involved in my mortgage refinancing. One step at the time...
Will get back to re-piping in a couple of months I hope.
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November 30 2007
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Well, if anyone is still interested, I have re-piped with copper and am very happy I did.  The old pipes were clogged (I would say 80% in some places) and rusted beyond believe.  My water pressure is great: no problem using both showers at the same time while running the sprinklers.  I've paid $5K for repiping and another $7K to remodel one bathroom (just couldn't stop, I guess...)

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July 22 2008
 
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