Friday, June 29, 2007

Ugly Plumbing

Till the middle of the 50's, cast iron pipes for the supply lines were the norm. Copper piping was around, but didn't become standard until the 60's.

Guess what? Just as the arteries in our bodies gather stuff on their walls and eventually can clog up, the cast iron pipes and fittings eventully corrode, and they collect the minerals in our notoriously hard water.

The corrosion you see on the fitting joint in this picture actually started on the inside, and is slowly eating it's way thru the pipe. I took these at a home that was being advertised as "completely rehabbed". It did have new paint and carpet, though.

I wish I had a picture of a pipe that's totally clogged. But when we find very low volume of water flow to a fixture, it's usually what's going on. We learned the hard way in the first apartments that we owned on Stewart Ave and 11th, that if you try to connect new copper onto the old cast iron, (which we were doing everytime the CI sprung a leak, that the chemical reaction of the copper meeting the CI and the water minerals accellerated the process and things got worse even faster.

The point? Upgraded plumbing and removal of ALL the cast iron supply lines (clear to the meter at the street) is a major job. But it's one of the most important "bones of the house" jobs that's much more important than new carpet or fresh paint.

When buying in Vintage Vegas, it's one of the items that must be taken into account when determining a fair price for a home. Antiquated plumbing is a leak or flood waiting to happen at the worst or a serious inconvenience at best when it takes 20 minutes to fill a sink.

ALL homes should be inspected, and no home that still has cast iron supply lines should be bought without a plan and the available resources to upgrade the plumbing.

I met with a seller the other day from a 1940's house. The reason they wanted to sell was they couldn't take a shower anymore, and it took 30 minutes to fill the bathtub in their ONE BATH home. I turned down the listing because they still wanted "top dollar", wouldn't make the upgrades to prepare to sell, (they still had screw in fuses, too, by the way). wouldn't offer an allowance or adjust the price to reflect the antique systems.

It's important to know what you're buying. (or selling for that matter). Part of the fun of living in Vintage Vegas is having or making a "modernly livable" home. Ask about the plumbing, electric, windows, age of roof, heat/air, amount of insulation, etc etc. And be prepared to make the upgrades, or just buy one that's already been upgraded.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jack, I don't really understand the
pictures. That "goup" is a foam insulation and that plastic plumbing under the sink has to be fairly new. My husband was a plumber, a true copper man. Two years ago he replaced our entire water line and he did it in
this stuff called PEX that is supposed to outlast copper. Also, Nev Power just replaced the entire electric line to my house. There's a long story on that, the son of the previous owner next door caused
damage and they have now put in a whole new meter system but they did leave some things as they were.
I insisted on keeping my remote meter at the front of the house since the other meter is at the back of the acre. As you know, my goal is to try to keep everything
as original as possible. MJ