opinions on different pipe systems and shelf life?

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Old 07-11-15, 05:06 AM
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opinions on different pipe systems and shelf life?

What is the shelf life on...
supply pipes
brass
copper
galvanized steel

drain lines

cast iron
polyvinyl
chloride (PVC)

I am looking into flipping a home in Richmond VA. Homes are old there, many between 1890-1970. A lot that have fit my needs are 1910 era. Just want to be educated on what i may have to do or what to look out for with plumbing. I am willing to do any task myself. any opinions or remarks are appreciated.
 
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Old 07-11-15, 05:29 AM
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Welcome to the forums! Your best bet in running supply lines would be PEX. It is flexible, easy to run, easy to connect to fittings and will expand and contract slightly whereas other media won't so much. Drain lines PVC are the easiest to work with, and maintain.

Shelf life??? Haven't been around long enough to know. Galvanized will eventually rust. Copper can become thin, especially on well water with minute sand in it. Brass will cost too much. Cast iron is too heavy, and can break underground easier than PVC.
 
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Old 07-11-15, 05:35 AM
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If your just flipping why worry about the pipes?
If it's not leaking leave it alone.
 
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Old 07-11-15, 05:37 AM
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We have a lot of buildings from the early 1900s, in NY. PVC wasn't used then so you that would be the last thing to replace. Any of the others could be needed. However, building owners usually don't replace anything until the pipe actually blows. Just because a pipe looks old & rusted doesn't mean that it should be replaced. That's according to real estate management companies.
 
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Old 07-11-15, 05:54 AM
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In terms of looking at houses, here's my general rule of thumb. If the house has:

Supply pipes
Copper or PEX, good to go. Rarely have replacement issues.
CPVC, a typically sub-standard plumbing method in houses (often used in mobile homes). Not ncessarily an issue, just raises red flags about the house.
Galvanized likely needs to be replaced soon

Drain Pipes
Copper Lasts almost forever
PVC new enough that you won't have to worry about it
Cast Iron Stack usually in good condition, but look out for leaks at couplings and possible rust spots. With a cast iron stack, you may have galvanized pipes from the fixtures to the stack. At this point in their life, you may have problems with clogs, especially the kitchen drain which tends to collect grease.

Of course a lot of the longevity of any system has to do with installation quality. You can always have a 1-year old PVC system that's horrible due to design or installation problems.

Even though you're flipping the house, you may still want to have a home inspector go through the house with you. Some things are of course easy to replace/fix while others are a lot more work/expense.
 
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