Saturday, December 20th, 2014

Copper pipes – The gold standard… right?

While researching ideas for today’s blog, we came across a homeowner Q&A forum on the Internet. Seemingly, an insurance agent advised the owner of a 1960’s-era home that in order to obtain homeowner’s insurance, the plumbing needed to be “updated”. For the record, Allied Reddi-Rooter is not aware of any such insurance requirements. But we are big believers in regular plumbing upgrades and maintenance. Here are a few thoughts.

Copper lasts forever, right?

Actually, no. Copper water pipes have amazing longevity but copper vent pipes in a bathroom installation typically only last about 40 years. Sewer gasses are corrosive and eat away at the copper vent stack over time. Here’s true story – we have a friend who owned a 2-story, 2 bathroom home built in 1964. The second floor toilets was directly overhead of the first-floor toilet; the two toilets shared a common copper vent pipe. One day in the late 1990’s, the husband was taking a rest on the first floor toilet and his wife flushed the upstairs toilet. Unknown to them, the vent had been leaking for some time, soaking the ceiling. That last flush did the trick — before he could make a run for it, the ceiling gave way, sending toilet water out in a gush, onto his head.

Yuuuck. That copper vent stack was promptly replaced with PVC.

According to http://www.improvingyourworld.com/home/how_to_update_your_plumbing_001066.html, “Many older homes have outdated plumbing. The pipes can erode and leak, and can cause major water damage and the need for expensive repairs later. So, updating your plumbing, and properly maintaining and checking our plumbing on a regular basis is an important part of keeping your home in good repair.”

Planning a Whole-House Plumbing Upgrade
If you are thinking your home could use a total plumbing makeover, consider having the work done in phases to keep it both affordable and manageable.

1. Work with a trustworthy plumber. A plumber will work with you inspect your existing pipes/fixtures/sewer lines and help you identify which tasks you might be able to handle and which are best suited to a professional.

2. Begin with the pipes/traps/sewer lines. These are the ‘big jobs’ in a plumbing upgrade. If you home has cast iron sewer stacks, galvanized lines, or older copper, it makes sense to have them evaluated. Over time, cast iron becomes brittle and can chip or crack. In Cincinnati, it’s not uncommon for cast iron stacks to have an asbestos coating – your plumber can advise you on whether asbestos mitigation is necessary.

3. Review your existing fixtures with a critical eye. For most homeowners, this is the fun part of the project. Dated fixtures add little to the value of your home and the big-box hardware stores have user-friendly displays that showcase new approaches, materials, and designs. Allied Reddi-Rooter is one of the few local plumbing companies that will happily install fixtures that you purchase elsewhere.

4. Gadgets abound! Have fun with your plumbing. “Instant hot” water dispensers, filtration systems, pot-filler faucets, water fountains, sprinkler systems, rainwater collection systems, and artfully designed sill faucets are but a few of the things that can dress up your home without breaking the budget. Updating your plumbing can give your home a newer feel, and save you from the headache of lots of future problems.

Water You Waiting For? If you have a home that desperately needs new plumbing, call Ray at Allied Reddi-Rooter. He can help scope your project, provide budget guidance, and have a plumber at your disposal. Call today: (513) – 396-5300.