General house plumbing

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Old 10-25-13, 11:28 AM
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Question General house plumbing

1. How would you insulate hot water pipes if you have a finished basement?

2. How do you prevent the outside hose faucet from freezing & bursting in cold weather? Is it a good or bad idea to turn off the (indoor) valve supplying the outdoor faucet?

3. If brown stuff comes out of the faucet when you first turn it on (or water looks yellowish), is this an indicator of a dirty hot water tank? Or just bad galvanized pipes?

4. If dried up water on the kitchen faucets leaves a white chalky substance, is this hard water or the corrosion from galvanized pipes?

5. I've been looking into replacing galvanized pipes....which type do new homes come with now? Copper or CPVC (or something else)? Is it a must that you have to tear down drywall or rip up flooring to get to pipes if I was to do this myself?
 
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Old 10-25-13, 11:49 AM
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1. You can get pipe insulation - looks like long black foam tubes with a slit down the length - at any big box store. Easy to apply.

2. Shut off inside valve and the open outside valve so the water in the pipe drips out. Next spring just reverse the procedure.

3.Probably crud from the tank.

4. Sounds like hard water to me.

5. I would go with copper or PEX tubing. Since each job and house is different, it's hard to say how much demo would be required. PEX would probably require the least.

6. I'm not a plumber so these are just my thoughts.
 
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Old 10-25-13, 12:52 PM
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1. Insulating water pipes buried in the walls of a finished room is difficult since you need access to the pipes to install the insulation goldstar mentioned. If you can access the pipes in some areas you may be able to put the insulation over the pipe and shove it back into the areas you can't reach but you'll only be able to slide it in until it hits an obstruction like a stud or fitting.

2. What goldstar said and the absolute worst thing you can do is leave a hose hooked up to the spigot over winter.

3. If you get the crud every time you turn on the pipes I'd start saving up for a plumbing job. Fill a glass with the crud and set it aside so the junk settles. What does it look like? Does a magnet attract the junk?

4. Generally minerals in the water. Calcium is probably most common but it could be any number of minerals.

5. PEX all the way and I would not consider any other material. Not only is it the best material for the job but it is the easiest to retrofit as it's flexibility makes it much easier to snake through joists and around obstacles.

On my rental houses whenever a section of pipe needs repair I replace whatever I can easily reach with PEX. When a house is vacant and the plumbing needs upgrading I just bite the bullet and run new PEX everywhere and all the way to the fixture shutoffs, without copper stubs (which can corrode and become their own problem). In most new construction pipes for sinks runs out the back of cabinets but when retrofitting it's often easier to drill through the bottom of the cabinet to gain easier access to the floor's joist bay to run the piping. And, it sounds stupid but I've used a toy RC 4x4 truck with a string tied to the back. Drive it through joist bays from one access point to another then use the string to pull the PEX tubing. You may have to cut some holes but there are tricks to pull piping without totally ripping out walls.
 
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Old 10-26-13, 08:03 AM
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Ok, good info. I guess that means pipe insulation doesn't have to fully wrap a pipe with no gaps if I just can wrap it on parts that I can get to. What temperature is the insulation good up to (e.g., do I have to be careful with hot stuff).

The brown stuff does not come out every time I turn on the water. It seems it only does when I haven't used that faucet in a while, like the faucets by the laundry or basement bathroom. I will collect it. The water we drink does taste chalky but I didn't know if it's the white chalk or the brown chalk.

goldstar, if the brown stuff is from the tank, is there a way to drain the tank without making a mess? I cut off the cold water supply at the main valve, and then turned on the hot water at a sink hoping that would drain the tank, but it appears the hot water gets its pressure from the cold water as well.

I guess I will do some research on PEX.

One last question, when we turn on the water in the shower, there's a lot of pipe noise, almost like a "shhhh" noise. Is this a sign of corroded galvanized pipes?
 
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Old 10-26-13, 12:33 PM
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Pipe insulation should entirely cover the pipe for best results. Much of the pipe "insulation" readily available to homeowners is only slightly better than nothing as it has such thin walls. If you are looking at a total re-pipe in the next couple of years I would forego the insulation at this time. The pipe insulation is good for any temperature you should encounter in a residential setting but don't let it touch flue pipes from boilers, furnaces or water heaters.

Brown water coming from faucets that have not been used for several hours/days is indicative of rusting steel pipes. The longer it takes for the rust to show up the better the pipe condition. If it shows up with only a couple of hours of "rest" then your pipes are in bad shape.

Yes, you CAN drain and flush water heater tanks BUT if it hasn't been done on a periodic basis it can often lead to more trouble such as clogged faucet aerators, shut-off valves and worst is actually causing leaks in the water heater tank. Unless you KNOW that the water heater has received the proper preventive maintenance, or the water heater is no more than a couple of years old you are probably best to let it be. If the water heater is near to ten years old start budgeting for its replacement soon. It MAY last several more years but the odds are against you after eight to ten years, especially without maintenance having been done.

Pipe "noise" is a really subjective term. It could be almost anything.
 
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Old 10-28-13, 08:02 AM
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Ok, guess I'll leave the water heater be. The thought of taking a shower with rock-filled water just doesn't sit right.

The pipe noise I hear....with the water turned off to the shower, there is no noise heard. Turning on the faucet, it's a very loud shrieking "shhhhhhhhhhh" sound, almost like someone with brakes that are way overdue. No other faucet makes this sound except for the bathroom shower.
 
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Old 10-28-13, 09:17 AM
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Face it, we do not live in a sterile world. There are minerals dissolved in almost all water. Water heaters just happen to be good at precipitating them out into larger, visible chunks. It's generally not bad except for it's physical affect of clogging things. They're usually just bits of calcium, magnesium or some other naturally occurring mineral.

You can try removing and cleaning the cartridges in your shower faucet as well as trying a different shower head.
 
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Old 10-29-13, 09:17 AM
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That's true, I also shouldn't take the quality of the water for granted because I'm sure in other places/countries it's a lot worse. But...there's just a lot of stuff that I'm recognizing that I didn't have to go through in my old apartment that this house now makes me face. I used to be in a 3flat and it didn't have brownish water at startup nor did dried-up water leave a chalky residue. But, with this house, I guess I'll just have to choose my battles wisely.
 
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