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  1. #1
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    Default Galvanized plumbing water supply lines

    Do you guys make any special recommendations when you run across 60 year old galvanized plumbing water supply lines. I saw some corrosion but no obvious leaks.

    I was thinking of saying something like , "galvanized plumbing lines may need to be replaced in the near future".

    Or is that an absurd thing to say?

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Galvanized plumbing water supply lines

    Quote Originally Posted by brianmiller View Post

    saying something like , "galvanized plumbing lines may need to be replaced in the near future".
    .
    Galvanized Piping :

    Potable Water Supply lines have Reach the End of their Dependable Service Lifespan and need Replacement.
    .

    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
    Billy J. Stephens HI Service Memphis TN.

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    Default Re: Galvanized plumbing water supply lines

    Budget for replacement in the short term and contact the municipality they may have an upgrade program in place which may be done free of charge.


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    Default Re: Galvanized plumbing water supply lines

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    Budget for replacement in the short term and contact the municipality they may have an upgrade program in place which may be done free of charge.

    "Budget for replacement" puts the cost onto the buyers.

    Why not help protect your buyers and simply state the galvanized lines are xx years old and xxxx(whatever evidence you see of their failure)xxxx are in need of replacement.

    That puts them on the table for replacement of negotiation instead of having your client have to BUY THE HOUSE KNOWING THEY will need to cover the cost in the not-to-distant-future.

    Why protect the seller?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Galvanized plumbing water supply lines

    Jerry

    I think my clients will take my report and come to their own conclusions as to which items they wish to negoiate. They can see that if they have to budget in the short term then hopefully they are astute enough to realize they should go to the vendor and seek an adjustment. Its also somewhat a none issue if the street mains and incoming water lines maybe scheduled for replacement anyway within a year or two fwiw.

    I think we are saying the same thing only differently. Again thats the way I do it and its never presented a problem that I am aware.

    Cheers,


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    Default Re: Galvanized plumbing water supply lines

    Raymond,

    It may not matter what your clients take what you say as, it may only matter what you say.

    "budget to replace" is not the same as "replace" and the client simply may not have the opportunity to include non-deficient items (you did not call them as deficient, therefore they are non-deficient) in the negotiations for "repairs of deficient items".

    Just a word of caution as words can make or break a report for the client and for the inspector.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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    Default Re: Galvanized plumbing water supply lines

    Okay Jerry, thank you.


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    Default Re: Galvanized plumbing water supply lines

    Quote Originally Posted by brianmiller View Post
    Do you guys make any special recommendations when you run across 60 year old galvanized plumbing water supply lines. I saw some corrosion but no obvious leaks.
    In my area, many insurance companies will not insure a house with galvanized plumbing. I treat that as a significant defect - Replace.


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    Default Re: Galvanized plumbing water supply lines

    John

    Have not had insurers turn down homes with incoming galvanized water lines, but have had insurers refusing to insure homes with galvanized piping.


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    Default Re: Galvanized plumbing water supply lines

    One question for you guys. Lets say I owned a home and repiped it in all new galvanized pipes 4 years ago and sold the home a year later. Now the new owner goes to sell the home 5 years down the road. He has no idea I put new galvanized pipes in the home. How would you know that they reached their lifespan, or are in need of replacing?

    I just came from a home that was built in 1962 even has the original water heater in it still Guy had a small leak on a water closet he had installed. While there he asked me about the condition of the water pipes. They all where galvanized. First I gave a once over and found a couple spots that need repair due to some corrosion at the threads of the fitting and pipe. Then I ran a static pressure test of the system, then I did a dynamic pressure test running all the fixtures at once to see if I am getting a standard pressure drop or if the pipes where corroded shut. The pressure was fine though out the home. I told him his pipes are just fine nothing wrong with them other than the couple joints that need attention.


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    Default Re: Galvanized plumbing water supply lines

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    In my area, many insurance companies will not insure a house with galvanized plumbing. I treat that as a significant defect - Replace.
    Wow, that is amazing that they will do that. I know a few towns around here that if you are going to change out the galvanized piping you need to remove every trace of it period. They do not want dielectric unions anywhere. That means you have to open all the walls and some subfloors to remove the old pipes and repipe in copper. Otherwise they rather you replace any defective galvanized pipe with galvanized pipe.


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    Default Re: Galvanized plumbing water supply lines

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Hasil View Post

    Wow, that is amazing that they will do that. I know a few towns around here that if you are going to change out the galvanized piping you need to remove every trace of it period. They do not want dielectric unions anywhere. That means you have to open all the walls and some subfloors to remove the old pipes and repipe in copper. Otherwise they rather you replace any defective galvanized pipe with galvanized pipe.
    .

    For Slab Installation
    .
    Would not cutting and abandoning the galvanized supply lines, installing Pex with a manifold in the attic, dropping the supply lines down to the fixtures be a viable option?

    Some walls would be required to be opened to provide the proper expansion loops and supports, but not whole runs.

    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
    Billy J. Stephens HI Service Memphis TN.

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    Default Re: Galvanized plumbing water supply lines

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Stephens View Post
    .

    For Slab Installation
    .
    Would not cutting and abandoning the galvanized supply lines, installing Pex with a manifold in the attic, dropping the supply lines down to the fixtures be a viable option?

    Some walls would be required to be opened to provide the proper expansion loops and supports, but not whole runs.
    Lots of cities and towns in my area do not allow pex.


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    Default Re: Galvanized plumbing water supply lines

    I come across galvanized pipes in about 30% of the homes I inspect. I don't have any type of standard wording I use. It just depends on the estimated age and appearance of pipes, water flow and pressure, and if I find sediment and corrosion at the bottom of sinks and tubs after ruining water. In my reports under plumbing materials I typically describe pipes as Galvanized Supply Pipes (old). If I find evidence that the pipes are nearing or past there life expectancy I mention that they are.


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    Default Re: Galvanized plumbing water supply lines

    Wow. We have a couple thousand houses here with threaded galvanized pipes, and I haven't heard of one of them failing yet. They were all built in 1948 - 1952. I'm sure they'll fail someday, but who knows when that will be. Our water is pretty benign here. I've also seen hundreds of water heaters in the 30 year and older range with no real problems. I imagine it's different around the country depending on your water chemistry.

    Any idea of the names of the companies that refuse to insure the galvanized? I'm curious if they do insure it here, but not there.

    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

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    Default Re: Galvanized plumbing water supply lines

    In 35 years every house I've seen that had Gal pipes in it
    had leaks at that time, or
    has had leaks in the past.
    Most have severly restricted water flow.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

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    Default Re: Galvanized plumbing water supply lines

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    In my area, many insurance companies will not insure a house with galvanized plumbing. I treat that as a significant defect - Replace.
    To be more specific, they will not insure a pre-1930 house or pre-1940 with galvanized piping. Younger than that, all the plumbing here is copper, then poly-B, now pex.
    I had a call recently from a buyer of an older home, all freshly reno'd with 200 A service and the only visible plumbing was copper or plastic. Because of the age, 1910, the insurer was turning him down because my report did not say specifically that there were no galvy pipes in the walls. He found insurance somewhere else.


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    Default Re: Galvanized plumbing water supply lines

    When I see older galvanized steel water supply piping, it's waving two big red liability flags:

    1) The potential for major water damage if it fails suddenly.

    2) The potential for major replacement expense if it fails "less suddenly".

    I do not plan on being on the hook for either repair or replacement.


    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

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    Default Re: Galvanized plumbing water supply lines

    I guess you never seen copper fail suddenly? I have. Also I have seen nails, and screws go through copper with ease, not galvanized.

    One of the big reasons they went away from galvanized water supply piping is it is labor to install it is very time consuming.


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    Default Re: Galvanized plumbing water supply lines

    I don't have anything against galvanized. I usually recommend replacement but won't if it's in good shape, which it rarely is.
    - how much cancer
    - how bad is the pressure
    - how old and cruddy do the pipes look

    www.aic-chicago.com
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  21. #21
    Mitchell Toelle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Galvanized plumbing water supply lines

    Quote Originally Posted by brianmiller View Post
    Do you guys make any special recommendations when you run across 60 year old galvanized plumbing water supply lines. I saw some corrosion but no obvious leaks.

    I was thinking of saying something like , "galvanized plumbing lines may need to be replaced in the near future".

    Or is that an absurd thing to say?
    With any water supply piping, no mater the material, your process of inspecting should be the same. Visually inspect for any concerns, test the pressure, test the function with multiple fixtures operating simultaneously. Watch for drops in water flow and for sediment or discoloration.

    Report on what you see. If there is significant drop in flow the piping is corroding inside and there is restriction. If there is sediment or discoloration it is a sign of wear and interior deterioration. If there are patches (clamped devices on the outside of galvanized material, usually stainless steel banding around a rubber sleeve), or sections that have been replaced in the past (especially on horizontals), this is a sign of failure and the system is going to need replacement sooner than later. Look for pin hole areas that may have sealed themselves back up and watch for evidence of past drips on insulation in the attic or soils in the crawlspace. Even past patched ceilings can be a telly.

    We have communities (and individual homes) in my area that were built in the mid 70's to early 80's where an inferior galvanized material was used (all of them using galvy material during this time). There were bad supplies of material I think from China. All these homes have had failure in both horizontal and vertical runs to varying significant degrees. I know when I look at a galvy home built within that era that there is going to be trouble.

    Take your time insecting and even more time in reporting every detail of what you are seening. You simply can't go wrong that way. Most of the time we get ourselves into trouble when we rush.


  22. #22
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    Default Re: Galvanized plumbing water supply lines

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Hasil View Post
    I guess you never seen copper fail suddenly? I have. Also I have seen nails, and screws go through copper with ease, not galvanized.

    One of the big reasons they went away from galvanized water supply piping is it is labor to install it is very time consuming.

    All valid points, but the fact remains that in many areas where you and I inspect galvanized water supply plumbing often dates from the 1920s-30s or even earlier - that's 80-90 years at this point - and it could be much older, galvanized pipe was been in use since at least 1860s.

    One the one hand, this demonstrates that the service life of galvanized piping in the Chicago area can - at least sometimes -considerably exceed the "expected" 45-70 years often cited.

    One the other hand, this means that a lot of the plumbing we encounter is well beyond it's expected service life - something of which I believe it's wise to advise my clients, both for their protection and my own.

    So galvanized in single family properties in "apparently good condition" makes it into the FYI section of my report.

    Condos and coops are a bit more complicated, the problem here is that insurance companies increasingly refuse to pay for water damage if galvanized has not been replace in a "timely" manner, see for example: Galvanized Pipe .

    IMO, the toughest case is galvanized hydronic piping in slabs: I'm aware of several suburban Chicago high-rise buildings from the 1940s and 1950s were failure of such piping has created massive disruption and expense, but generally we can't identify the materials in such systems when inspecting individual units.

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Galvanized plumbing water supply lines

    Galvanized water lines rust from the inside out and can become restricted over time. Galvanized water lines still present in homes is over 60 years old and beyond the end of their life expectation. When low water flow is noted at plumbing fixtures, some restriction may have occurred. No restriction was noted at the time of inspection. Monitor for leaking, particularly at joints and watch for pinhole leaking. Eventually, you will have to replace this piping.


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    Post Re: Galvanized plumbing water supply lines

    All potable piping will eventually fail. The critical issue is the condition of the piping. If there are signs of deterioration or failure, then it would seem incumbent on the inspector to state so, and indicate that repair or replacement may be in order. I have seen 70-year-old galvanized pipe in excellent condition, 10-year-old copper tubing riddled with pin-hole leaks at ells and joints, QUEST that has maintained joints as tight as the day they were installed, and brand new PEX that had so many leaks it was ridiculous. Our clients pay us to: 1.) tell them the condition and 2.) what that means to them, in our professional opinion. If there are signs of failure or immanent failure, repair or replacement is in order. The professional inspector should not be putting the interpretation of his report off on the client. The report should be properly worded and explained to the client, giving them an opportunity to ask questions. Ultimately, the client will determine how findings are handled in the sale process. The inspector who has given the client the information to make that decision responsibly and knowledgeably has done his job.


    Randall Aldering GHI BAOM MSM
    Housesmithe Inspection
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  25. #25
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    Smile Re: Galvanized plumbing water supply lines

    Observation: The home has an old galvanized steel water service pipe running from the street to the home.

    Analysis: Be advised that as a old galvanized steel water service pipe ages, internal calcification or mineral deposits reduce the interior pipe diameter and restrict water flow to the home. Old galvanized water pipes have an unpredictable remaining lifespan and should be considered as fully depreciated. In most communities, the cost of future replacement belongs to the homeowner.

    Recommendation: You should monitor the old service pipe for signs of corrosion, leakage and reduced water. As unpredictable significant expense age replacement may be needed in the future, you may be wise to seek a cost estimate now for your future budget


  26. #26
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    Default Re: Galvanized plumbing water supply lines

    I disagree with the majority of the posts on Galvanized water pipes. I have worked on plumbing in many older homes and many have galvanized pipes that work fine--I have not seen any catastrophic failures except where there is significant electrolysis. When galvanized and copper are mixed, the electrolysis causes corrosion and can cause premature failure of joints and HWT. However, when dialectic unions are installed, the electrolysis is minimized and the system works well.

    When there are problems (i.e. low water pressure), I recommend replacing just the horizontal piping. I recommend Pex instead of copper because the copper is too attractive to house-strippers if the house is left empty for any length of time.


  27. #27
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    Default Re: Galvanized plumbing water supply lines

    I used to do a lot of PCA work. This was before the money center banks quit making loans on commercial real estate back in July of 2007. For the companies I was working for galvanized water pipe was a big deal. Virtually all of them wanted me to schedule it for replacement in the "Replacement/Reserve" table on it 50-year anniversary. Leaks or no leaks. History or repairs or not. If not full replacement, they would advise me to schedule some amount for repairs over the life of the loan.

    To my home inspection clients I typically say something like this: "Note: The water supply pipe between the water meter and the main water shut-off valve appears to be galvanized steel. This is not considered a deficiency. Galvanized steel piping is still in use, however, it is not installed in modern construction. It oxidizes from the inside out, the oxidation (rust) reduces the interior diameter of the pipe, restricting the flow of water and it usually first leaks at threaded joints where the pipes are joined. It is common to see this type of pipe used in this way at older homes and failures are common. The EUL (Expected Useful Life) of galvanized water pipe is 50-years."

    Being in the southwest, I just almost never see it inside the house.


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