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Can you live in a house while the plumbing is being replaced?
Wednesday, July 11, 2018
Whether you can live in your home while the plumbing is being replaced depends on three factors: 1) the type of plumbing being replaced, 2) how extensive the replacement work is, and 3) your tolerance for noise and dust in your home.
1) Type of plumbing - A home has both water supply pipes and drain pipes, which are effectively two separate plumbing systems. Each has different requirements and only one type is usually replaced at a time. The old water supply piping is typically abandoned in place under the floor, with new pipe run through the attic and down to each fixture or, alternately, in the ground around the exterior walls and then up and in from an exterior wall. In pre-1950 homes with an elevated wood floor and a crawl space under it, the new water supply pipes are run in the crawl space next to the old ones. The plumber does not disconnect the old water pipes until the last day of the work in most cases, so you will only lose water service for one day.
Replacement of drain piping is different, and means digging in the yard and/or jackhammering up the concrete floor slab. It also comes with the possibility of sewer gas fumes while the work is being done. In other words, it’s messy and stinky. There are also newer “trenchless” technologies that install a liner inside the existing sewer pipe. Although some digging is still required for this solution, it is not as disruptive as replacement of the pipes, so should ask your plumber if this would be a good alternative for your home.
2) Extent of the work - Just replacing a short run of drain piping or a partial repipe of the water supply piping is less intrusive than complete replacement. It’s done quicker and is contained within one part of the house, making the problems of living with it easier to deal with. Even though you are likely to be without water service or functioning drains for only a brief period, it’s important for your plumber to let you know how long that will be. Also, ask about possible complications and how they might affect the schedule.
3) Your tolerance for dust and noise - “If you don’t want to deal with the dust, noise, and workmen in the house, getting a hotel room for a few days might be a good idea,” according to Allan Hutto, of J.W. Freeman Plumbing, in Gainesville, Florida.
Also, see our blog post Why is old galvanized steel water pipe a problem for homebuyers?
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