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HomeBuyer

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I have entered a contract to purchase a house and I’m in the inspections stage. I want to be sure I’m not taking on a big project so I’m getting all kinds of inspections and reading a lot and have lots of questions.

1) I am assuming that it was plumbed with galvanized pipes for water and cast iron for sewer. Is this a reasonable assumption?
2) I’ve read that galvanized pipes have a ‘lifespan’ of 50-70 years - which puts us at the end of that life span. How do you ascertain the ‘health’ of the water pipe?
3) Is replumbing of houses on a slab that have galvanized pipes something that is done very often?
4) Sewer lines - I was going to get a camera inspection and have seen (youtube) other kinds of test that watches the water level fall after 20 minutes... is it reasonable to also get the sewer lines in the slab of the house inspected with the camera - to look for cracks?

Realtor acts like I’m going overboard on inspections but I just don’t want any surprises.
Any advice or insights would be appreciated.
 

DIYorBust

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Cast iron drains, probably if it's original. I've also seen galvanized drains from smaller diameter areas. It's likely some updates have been made to PVC so check it out. Supply maybe galvanized, you should be able to tell from exposed areas if the plumbing is galvanized. It could be brass or copper, or something less common. If it has galvanized pipes, I would assume you're gonna have some trouble with them. It's possible they'll be fine, but it would be one of the less desireable inspection finds. A possible solution is to bypass sections that are problematic. The availability of PEX makes this easier and cheaper than it might have been in the past.

One way to test the health of the galvanized pipes is to identify faucets with low pressure. If the water comes at a trickle, or less than you'd expect, there's a good chance that line is rusted through. How accessible is the pipe that feeds that area becomes the next question. If it's behind tile, you could be looking at a big headache.

Replumbing under the slab would be expensive, but it may be possible to bypass those lines if needed. At the end of the day, it may be a question of how equipped you are to deal with issues that come up. If you're planning major work anyway, it doesn't matter much. If you're looking for something turnkey, that's another story.
 

Reach4

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1) I am assuming that it was plumbed with galvanized pipes for water and cast iron for sewer. Is this a reasonable assumption?
I don't think so. Could be copper water piping, some copper above ground for sewer, and clay pipe in the yard. A magnet won't stick to copper.

I don't know if they put clay under slabs, but that could even be the case. Tree roots penetrate clay joints.
 

Sylvan

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1) I am assuming that it was plumbed with galvanized pipes for water and cast iron for sewer. Is this a reasonable assumption?

Never assume and galvanized depending on the PH of the water can last decades

Jamaica Water supply ( Queens NY) when copper tubing was used the copper would not last as the water supply was corrosive but galvanized lasted 50+ years

Cast Iron is laid in cinder as a backfill will deteriorate a lot faster than piping laid on clean fill with no rocks under it


2) I’ve read that galvanized pipes have a ‘lifespan’ of 50-70 years - which puts us at the end of that life span. How do you ascertain the ‘health’ of the water pipe?

I read an engineers report at a deposition that stated the life expediency of piping is 40 years (give or take)

3) Is replumbing of houses on a slab that have galvanized pipes something that is done very often?

Look up Levit houses on long island as their copper heating system was the state of the art under-slab but there is a lot of failures over the past decades and the repipe was all placed above the slab in most cases


4) Sewer lines - I was going to get a camera inspection and have seen (youtube) other kinds of test that watches the water level fall after 20 minutes... is it reasonable to also get the sewer lines in the slab of the house inspected with the camera - to look for cracks?


Taking a video inspection is useless if the lines are not water Jetted first

The reason being the years of accumulation of soap scum and grease adhering to the inner piping will hidden defects and at best will only show back pitched lines and possible root infiltration

I water Jetted a kitchen line in an apartment building and the grease had actually prevented the 6" line from leaking.

As soon as I had cleared most of the line water started spewing in the lobby as the long sweep had a large split that was covered by a heavy layer of grease
 

Dj2

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This house is ready for water supply re-pipe. Not a terrible expense, which you could ask the seller to split the cost.
The sewer line should be cam inspected.
 

HomeBuyer

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This house is ready for water supply re-pipe. Not a terrible expense, which you could ask the seller to split the cost.
The sewer line should be cam inspected.

So you’d do it (re-pipe the supply) proactively? even if there was no evidence of leak in a ‘pressure test’?
 

Water Pro

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galvanized plumbing will likely add very significant amounts of iron to your tap water, requiring water treatment (which may result in significant expense). I'm assuming your on a well? get a comprehensive water test, including for iron. hardness, pH, total dissolved solids and coliform bacteria. all but coliform can be tested by a qualified water treatment dealer, usually at minimal cost. if a well is in use, it's recommended to test both raw water (at the pressure tank), as well as tap water. that way you can make a better determination of what contaminants the homes plumbing may be contributing. if a well is in use, a well inspection is also obviously imperative.
 

HomeBuyer

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MORE INFO:

The property has municipal water (since first plumbed in mid 50s)

Now I have Home inspection report
Water Piping : Copper and galvanized piping visible/appears serviceable
Waste lines: ABS Plastic visible/appears serviceable

Last month, in order to have reports ready for a buyer they called out a plumber to put camera into view sewer line.
The report says :
”used hydro to clean and clear line, ran line several times to make sure line was clear,
went to city main from clean out then used camera to check line but could not get past 1st bend
due to san-T on its side used as a 90 degree bend “old style” , went to city main from cleanout.
Tech tested and is flowing properly at this time”
 

Sylvan

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MORE INFO:

The property has municipal water (since first plumbed in mid 50s)

Now I have Home inspection report
Water Piping : Copper and galvanized piping visible/appears serviceable
Waste lines: ABS Plastic visible/appears serviceable

Last month, in order to have reports ready for a buyer they called out a plumber to put camera into view sewer line.
The report says :
”used hydro to clean and clear line, ran line several times to make sure line was clear,
went to city main from clean out then used camera to check line but could not get past 1st bend
due to san-T on its side used as a 90 degree bend “old style” , went to city main from cleanout.
Tech tested and is flowing properly at this time”


Seems the plumber is above average as they did the Jetting before the video which was the right thing to do as I stated above as it is only common decency to uncover defects hidden by grease etc.


Galvanized piping can last 20 - 100 years depending on the installation and water supply

We installed 3" galvanized in a pipe tunnel for the potable water system on Roosevelt Island (NY) in the early 1970s with provisions to prevent electrolytic action from taking place
 

HomeBuyer

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Seems the plumber is above average as they did the Jetting before the video which was the right thing to do as I stated above as it is only common decency to uncover defects hidden by grease etc.


Galvanized piping can last 20 - 100 years depending on the installation and water supply

We installed 3" galvanized in a pipe tunnel for the potable water system on Roosevelt Island (NY) in the early 1970s with provisions to prevent electrolytic action from taking place

Sylvan, the report says that they couldn't’ get past a certain “sanT” so couldn't get a pic of the pipe — WHY would they not try inserting camera from the street? The house is right on the street and I wouldn’t think that distance would be a problem? This was a Mr Rooter franchise that did the work. Is there a way that they could use a smaller camera?? (I don’t know anything about plumbing so these were the things that came to mind.)
 

HomeBuyer

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Galvanized piping can last 20 - 100 years depending on the installation and water supply

We installed 3" galvanized in a pipe tunnel for the potable water system on Roosevelt Island (NY) in the early 1970s with provisions to prevent electrolytic action from taking place[/QUOTE]

RE: corrosion on galvanized pipes...
varies with water and municipal water sources may be better for less corrosive effects?

what does “provisions to prevent electrolytic action from taking place” mean?
 

Jeff H Young

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Homebuyer, A lot of posts here. im not going through them all here are my thoughts around 35 years plumbing in so ca.
1950s homes are likely been repiped however that in itself means little often people just repipe partialy. If its a run down shack you might assume less things were done. look closley at the water lines where thy protude from wall between the valve and escutcheon what kind of pipe do you see? look at pipes at water heater same thing? hose bib, front ,rear whereever look at watermain where entering house. Note what is underground going from house to meter has often been changed even if house was never repiped. If house was built late 50s very late It may have always been copper (not common but not totaly rare either) .
Youve got the plumbers report we cant tell you why he couldnt or wouldnt do anything. maybe he is dumb? maybe you need to hire another plumber ? One thing to think about is I love old cars and houses but they arent NEW. abs pipe visible means just that it dosent mean or imply that the dwv system has been re piped either.
This home could be in great shape or not ,very hard to tell.
 

Sylvan

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Galvanized piping can last 20 - 100 years depending on the installation and water supply

We installed 3" galvanized in a pipe tunnel for the potable water system on Roosevelt Island (NY) in the early 1970s with provisions to prevent electrolytic action from taking place

RE: corrosion on galvanized pipes...
varies with water and municipal water sources may be better for less corrosive effects?

what does “provisions to prevent electrolytic action from taking place” mean?[/QUOTE]


There are dielectric nipples (insulated) and dielectric unions

Unfortunately too many installers will install a brass valve to a galvanized water line and not taking into consideration future failures
 

Reach4

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If you came back with a counter to lower the price, that could let another buyer buy at maybe the same as your contract, or even more? Is the house unlikely to attract other buyers?
 

Jeff H Young

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youve got a contract if your not happy attempt to negotiate concideration for your percieved condition. you can walk and he (seller can also say take it or leave it. Whether you are overboard or not , the realator wants to close a deal and thats it.
 
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