Saturday, September 22, 2007

Galvanized pipes gotta go

What a week it's been. New furnace, new plumbing, roof repair, drywall.

And I didn't have to do a lick of it. :)

Nasty old pipes removed

If you have a house with old galvanized pipes (grey pipes in photo), you likely can run so many water-based things at one time. At my house, you flush after you shower if you want to bathe immediately because that filling toilet sucks up all the water coming upstairs.

It's kind of a rock-paper-scissors game: Bathroom faucet beats toilet. Toilet beats shower. Washing machine beats shower. Kitchen faucet beats shower.

People often think they have low water pressure, but plumbers have told me the problem typically is low volume.

Those old galvanized pipes corrode on the inside over time, slowly constricting the space to carry water. (see disgusting corrosion pictures)

The solution: Replace pipes with copper. Which is easy for me to say because my flip has an unfinished basement and a main-floor bathroom, giving plumbers easy access.

I thought it was worth the whole shebang to upgrade the pipes. I wanted to move the sink and dishwasher for a more sensible kitchen layout. There was some creative plumbing over the years that has given every contractor the giggles when they see it.

All home inspectors check the water supply, too (It's a fancy test: Turn on the bathroom sink and tub faucets and flush the toilet at the same time. If they all work at once, you've got good volume/pressure).

Copper= new water pipes, White=new PVC drain pipe, Silver=electrical conduit

Southside Plumbing did a great job of getting the new pipes snug to the ceiling in case the basement is finished someday. They're reliable and reasonably priced.

Other plumbing tips:
  • Check the size of the water supply pipe coming into the house. This should be near the shutoff valve. Call the city or your water utility to ask. Both of my houses have 1-inch pipe coming in, then half-inch pipe in the house, putting a good dent in the volume. The flip's pipes jumped a size with this week's upgrade.
  • Check your aerator if you're getting less water from your faucets. It's a little screen that gets clogged sometimes. How to check: Grab the tip of the faucet where the water comes out and unscrew it. Turn on the faucet. If you've got plenty of water with the aerator removed, clean it, or buy a new one. Take it with you to the store because there are a maddening array of choices. I put up with a trickle of water for handwashing after flushing the toilet, then figured out all I needed was a $2 aerator.

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