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07-24-2012 10:39 AM
We have a house (built in the 60's) that currently has galvanized pipes. The water pressure is not as strong as we would like, so we're thinking of replacing the pipes with copper. Does anyone have an idea how much this could potentially cost? The price range on the intenet is quite large, so wondering if anyone has done this recently.
Thanks in advance!
07-24-2012 10:53 AM
This really can vary quite a lot. If you have a slab foundation, the new piping has to run up through the attic, which can be a hassle. With a crawl space it is more manageable, though may houses of that era don't have much headroom down there. Running the main piping under the house goes fairly quickly, but doing things like showers, baths and sinks can be more time consuming ($$). If they have to take out tile to run pipes in the wall, that is more work.
One other alternative for this might be using PEX pipe (or a combination of PEX and copper). I don't have direct experience, but it is supposed to be significantly easier to use for a re-pipe job.
07-24-2012 02:17 PM
Don't forget code upgrades.
Pretty much touching the existing plumbing to this extent is going to require that you bring all of the old plumbing and accouterments up to current code. Depending on your situation, that could be a lot of money....or not.
You cant' get a definitive cost answer here anymore than you did on the internet. The only correct answer from a non-pro without all of the details of your situation is; "It depends".
Do yourself a favor and put the job out to bid. The answers you get there, will be quite definitive and appropriate to your particluar situation at your location.
07-24-2012 02:45 PM
i guess it depends on size and number of bathrooms. I changed out my galvanized plumbing in stages. Just changing the 1/2 pipe going up to the fixtures and tying into the galvanized main line can make a big difference.
You can probably get one fixture changed out for around $300
I did the shower that way and noticed a big differnce immediately
07-24-2012 04:08 PM - edited 07-24-2012 04:09 PM
I am doing this, replacing all steel pipes with copper, in a 3 bed.2.5 bath 1500 sq ft house. The quote I got was for about $6k. I should mention this house has a crawlspace
07-24-2012 09:58 PM
In all likelihood, your galvanized pipes have mineral build up in them, shrinking the inside diameter and restricting the water flow.
You must install pressure balancing valves on your bath tubs/showers. That's a code requirement (anti-scald). You may also have to put a vacuum break in your dishwasher (if one doesn't presently exist).
You can buy cheap valves (Aquasource from Home Cheapo) or a quality mixing valve from oh.... Symmons (Temptrol), Grohe, Hansgrohe...... That can add $100's of dollars to the equation. Don't worry about breaking up the shower tile. A good plumber will use what's called a "remodeling plate" to insert the new valve and hide any damage to your tile. Most name brand (aka Symmons) will have such an option available. A good guy can cut/remove a few tiles and you'll not be the wiser when he's all done. They also may go through the drywall from the back side if it's accessible.
While you're at it, make sure you install shutoff valves at all fixtures (toilet, sink, ice maker, etc). Specify a BALL valve rather than a gate valve. They're about $1 more each (fixture valves - 2x's $8 for hot and cold) and they a less likely to drip when you open or close them to service the valves, replace a fixture, or have to repair a leak. Ditto for your exterior faucets and laundry supply lines. You'll be happy you did.
Specify the heavier copper tubing (K or L). M is thin and can develop premature pinholes.... and it's noisier. This is where the contractors will rip you off.... the cheap guy will use the "M" and the more expensive guy should be using the heavier K or L tubing. The tubing is marked with the appropriate letter and is in different color ink.
Make sure the the unions are brass and the pipe straps are copper. You want to avoid a galvanic reaction between the metals (galvanized will eat copper) so do not let them connect galvanized directly to copper. Copper and brass bits are expensive and the cheap guys will do everything they can to cut costs. The plastic straps/supports will get brittle over time. They crack and your pipes will hammer.... or shudder when someone flushes a toilet and you're in the shower and the pressure drops.... or a valve closes quickly. Spend the extra couple hundred bucks.
Spend a little time educating yourself. You'll be glad you did.
07-24-2012 11:00 PM
good advice from El_katz. I have to watch my guy like a hawk sometimes I know more than he does because I've done my homework. I usually pay for the supplies myself to minimize the chance of cutting corners with the cheap stuff.
Best way is to learn to the point where you could do it yourself then call the plumber.
Then do it in stages if they do one part right call them back to do the next section.
07-26-2012 04:06 PM
Definitely go with PEX.. the material cost will be 1/4 that of Copper... and the labor significantly less. (advice from a home builder)
Is PEX being accepted in most jurisdictions now?