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Renovating house, replace all plumbing too???

2718 Views 11 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Huggins90
Hey guys,

My wife and I are renovating a 1930s house that is in much need of some love.

We have just stripped everything to the studs and ceiling joists (it was all wood lathe and plaster, not fun) and will be completely rewiring the house, new insulation, new decking and roofing, new ceiling joists because they were all sagging (2x4s spanned bueno) walls coming out, new walls going in, and new subfloor in kitchen and bathroom.

I am familiar with most construction/framing issues, however, plumbing i'm not so familiar with. all the drains are cast iron, and much of the water lines are steel as well. Should I replace as much of this as I can to avoid problems later?

How far down can you replace a drain line. I've heard horror stories of people digging up drain lines in the middle of winter because they are backed up. Is there a way to keep this from happening while the house is still in its renovation stages?

I don't want to unnecessarily repair things that don't need it, but I do want to avoid later problems. If it was your home for 10+ years, how far back would you take the water lines/drains and what would you go back with?

It's a vented crawlspace, in Southern Oklahoma, Insulate all the lines while we are down there? We don't have unlimited funds to spend on plumbing because there are some other unforseen things that are eating up the "miscellaneous" part of our renovation budget but water is pretty darn important so just make your recommendations and then we'll do our best. Thank in advance! You guys are great!
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Also, I've heard of scoping drain lines with a camera...worth the money? Or is cast iron pipe just worth replacing anyway...?
Replace it all while you can.
Cast and steel will always leak and close up on the inside 100% of the time over time.
Both rust from the inside out so they may look fine on the outside.
PVC for the drains and 3/4 main runs with 1/2" suppys.
I only use Pex for the supplys, fast to run, no soldering, less joints, will expand instead of bursting if it freezes.
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I agree---this is the cheapest time to update the old plumbing--

I'd suggest replacing everything you can---drains from the foundation to the roof vents--

water lines from the meter or pump tank to every fixture----

At that point you will have a new system that will be trouble free for many years.
QUOTE: Insulate all the lines while we are down there?

You can scratch that from the list and use those funds to rodent proof the crawl space. There are those ( including squirrels ) that can sense water in a line and will chew through to gain access.
Cast iron is a great product but it wears out over time. So I'd replace the drainage pipe You can save a little money by leaving the venting in place though. It usually lasts longer.
Water should be replaced with copper or PEX- PEX is more economical. Size the lines properly
As for the sewer outside- have it inspected with a camera. There are several possible types of pipe you may have- cast iron, clay, orangeburg or plastic. I've seen these lines replaced/repaired anywhere from $1000-$12,000 and it seemed to always be an emergency...
Hey, thanks for all the replies. This helps a lot. So I know when most people ask how much this is going to cost, we all say it depends. But just for a sheer ballpark number, any ideas...I mean if I do new water lines from the meter in PEX, replace drains and sewer with PVC, New PVC vent lines, all under a maneuverable crawlspace...Is this a 3,000 dollar job or 20,000? Very ballpark number here..It is a 1500 sq ft. house; 2 baths, 1 kitchen. 5 vents through the roof. House set back from the meter about 25 ft. I would say. Also, How in the world do you dig up old drain lines in a crawlspace? Or do you just run the new beside or above? Thanks again.
Are you talking parts for DIY? In order to even guess we would need the layout---number of openings and many more details.
Also, I've heard of scoping drain lines with a camera...worth the money?
It was definitely worth it for us when we recently bought our small 1920s bungalow.

The sellers claimed the drains worked fine, but when we had them scoped there were lots of tree roots and the houses drainline was broken where it connected to the city main.

We got the sellers to pay for a significant repair on the sewer.

In your case, knowing the condition of the drainline would be useful, IMO. There's no point in doing a bunch of plumbing upgrades in the house if your drainline can't handle it.

It cost me about $200 to have the camera sent down the line.
It's a lot cheaper than if they have to take the walls down.

You don't have to replace everything. You could leave the vents in place and connect the PVC drains to them (aside from cutting cast iron, pretty easy.) You don't necessarily have to replace the big pipes going underground, although a camera shot down the pipe would be nice. I guess it depends on whether you're going to do it, or if a plumber were going to do it, and how much discount he'd give you for doing those things. For example, if you just asked him to come in and replace a vent pipe through your roof, he might charge you X. If you asked him to replumb the rest of your house, he might only charge half of X for replacing the vent pipe since he's already there and has a big job.
You have to get your priorities straight. Granite counter tops are nice, but you can do without those. Take my word for it, what you can really do without is feces backing up into your house, or a pipe springing a leak in a wall, or an early morning house fire. Do the stuff that is unseen and necessary while you have access to it. You can always add the Cha Chee Later. Besides, once everybody finds out that Granite cracks, and stains, and stainless steel ain't so stainless, and shows fingerprints like a DeLorean they will all want Laminate and painted again. Freakin Sheep.

It amazes me to watch the whiny people they have on home renovation shows complaining when a structural flaw or a major plumbing or electrical problem is uncovered, Cutting their spending budget for Cha-Chee. Its like they dont want to fix it, just cover it back up. Makes me want to strangle them. :mad:
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Thanks for all the replies. Spent some time under the house today, and low and behold...drain lines were replaced already with PVC. WHEW!!! At least, some of it was. From the rear bathroom, through the kitchen and to the front bath is a new pvc drain line. It connects to the front bathroom's toilet stack. I have pictures below. Once it has reached this point, should I still have the rest scoped? Does it go down further into the ground then have a line come out to the main sewer? You can't tell but in the pics the drain line you see going into the main stack is pvc, just covered in oklahoma red dirt.


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