Sometimes in the plumbing profession, things go smoothly, and according to plan. Other times, or rather, MOST of the time, things always seem to go a little sideways. We recently got an email from one of our most frequent and best customers explaining a few minor plumbing jobs that needed to be done on a newly purchased property. On these older homes, it is always a good idea to take a look at them to see what we would be getting in to. The list seemed simple enough- new toilet seat, disconnect gas line to stove and add a shutoff valve, replace kitchen sink and faucet, and replace the bathtub faucet. All of these items were pretty simple on their own, and I had explained that it should be possible to stay within his budget. The next day I started the work and it wasn't until I headed downstairs that things got interesting. I noticed a few additional problems pretty quickly, such as a rusted-away tub drain and a few water lines that had been split. Even these few problems that were visible where not enough to cause too much concern. I promptly made my way through all of the problems that were noticeable. All of these issues are pretty common with older homes, especially with the old galvanized steel water lines and cast iron drains. When everything APPEARED ok, I slowly started to turn the water on, and this is when the fun began. Within seconds, a slow drip developed, right next to my head. The galvanized pipe was split on the seem on the top of the pipe. Water off, repair made- #1. When that was fixed, it was now time to try again. I slowly turned the water on, and a little bit further down the line, I see water pouring onto the floor. This time there was a crack in the threaded portion of the pipe. Water off, repair made- #2. This pattern continued for no less than 6 repairs before I eventually had to call it a day and plan on a round 2 the next day. By the time I was able to get the water on, 75% of the house had been replaced with pex water lines. On day number two I eventually decided to cut my (his) losses and simply start cutting most of the old water lines out. There were a few lines that remained in the walls that were copper, so those remained in tact, even though a few of the fittings had blown apart. What appears to have happened in this house is that it never got properly winterized and literally EVERYTHING froze, EVERYWHERE. Now that the water was on, I had a slight bit of optimism that I was almost going to be able to get out of there. Of course this was not the case because we are dealing with old plumbing. The toilet would not fill at all due to a completely corroded galvanized line serving it. I had to turn the water back off, and run a new line with a new shutoff valve to the toilet. After the toilet was working, I turned the water on at the dual lavatories and the faucets both worked great, to my surprise! What I was not surprised by though was the fact that the water did not go down the drain AT ALL. After pulling the p traps off both lavs and snaking the main drain serving them, I got all of the water to go where it was supposed to. I was even lucky enough to find a handful of hair ties, straws, toothbrushes, and toys along the way. If you are ever considering purchasing an older home for yourself, to flip or to rent out, keep your plumbing budget plenty high in case of unforeseen problems, which are almost always going to be there. Allow a professional plumber to take care of it for you, and save yourself days, weeks or even a lifetime of plumbing headaches.
All Area Plumbing
by Matthew Sherman,
Serving the Jenison
& Grand Rapids, Michigan area.
Licensed & Insured.
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