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Corroded galvanized drain piping


drw
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I did an inspection in mid-June. The house was occupied at the time of inspection. In the crawlspace I saw a piece of corroded galvanized drain piping. The exact words in my report were

"REPAIR - Corrosion is present on the galvanized drain piping in the crawlspace. If this piece of piping were to rust through, the leak could go undetected for an extended period of time. I recommend replacement of this section of drain piping."

Sure enough, this pipe leaked. The customer didn't get it fixed until after it leaked. The plumber told my customer that I missed a 4" hole and that the corrosion inside the pipe is now clogging the rest of the drain. So, the customer wants me to replace all of the drainpiping in the crawlspace.

I just said no. My question: am I right in thinking that there very easily could have been a 4" hole just waiting to happen under the corrosion that I resisted the temptation to poke at during the inspection?

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Originally posted by drw

I did an inspection in mid-June. The house was occupied at the time of inspection. In the crawlspace I saw a piece of corroded galvanized drain piping. The exact words in my report were

"REPAIR - Corrosion is present on the galvanized drain piping in the crawlspace. If this piece of piping were to rust through, the leak could go undetected for an extended period of time. I recommend replacement of this section of drain piping."

Sure enough, this pipe leaked. The customer didn't get it fixed until after it leaked. The plumber told my customer that I missed a 4" hole and that the corrosion inside the pipe is now clogging the rest of the drain. So, the customer wants me to replace all of the drainpiping in the crawlspace.

I just said no. My question: am I right in thinking that there very easily could have been a 4" hole just waiting to happen under the corrosion that I resisted the temptation to poke at during the inspection?

Of course you're right. When galvanized drain pipes go bad, they go bad big time.

On the other hand, your reporting language was kind of soft and not particularly straightforward. Maybe your customer fell asleep after the first sentence.

You could write less and say more with, "The drain pipes are corroded and they could leak anytime. Replace them." A customer might even react to that and do something about it.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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See, I like that.

The original report language is OK; it's better than most of the stuff I see. But, when there's stuff you know is bad, I think it's smart to say it's bad in harsh language.

"Corrosion is present" can be misunderstood; it doesn't tell me anything in particular.

"The pipe is all rusted out; it's going to leak" tells me everything, and it can't be misundersood.

I might have expanded my comments to include all of the pipe, something along the lines of "....if there's rusted pipe in one location I can see, there's probably a lot more where I can't see it. You should replace all the pipe before it leaks & floods the crawlspace."

Realtors hate comments like that. Customers love it.

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Kurt and Jim are right, of course. But I've had a seller call in a twenty year old, probably-still-stoned-from-the-night-before plumber who says, "I don't see anything wrong. Nothing's leaking." The buyer gets hosed because the alleged professional doesn't know what he's looking at.

Miscommunication is rife in our business. A couple of days ago, I noted that a heat pump was missing insulation on its suction line near the evaporator coil. This morning, the buyer's realtor called and said an electrician looked at the heat pump and couldn't find any missing insulation on the wiring.

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Originally posted by Bain

Kurt and Jim are right, of course. But I've had a seller call in a twenty year old, probably-still-stoned-from-the-night-before plumber who says, "I don't see anything wrong. Nothing's leaking." The buyer gets hosed because the alleged professional doesn't know what he's looking at.

Some of that's always going to happen. But I believe that we can minimize it by writing compactly and clearly.

Miscommunication is rife in our business. A couple of days ago, I noted that a heat pump was missing insulation on its suction line near the evaporator coil. This morning, the buyer's realtor called and said an electrician looked at the heat pump and couldn't find any missing insulation on the wiring.

That was probably the result of using jargon. For all they knew a "suction line" was some sort of electrical wire and maybe someone misread "evaporator coil" as "electrical coil."

It's not what we say; it's what they hear.

I occasionally test myself like this: I explain a problem to a wife while her husband is out of earshot. Then, when he comes near, I ask her to explain it to him. I've learned a lot about how to explain stuff to people by doing this exercise every so often.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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The verbage in the report was probably similar to what I used in the post, which I--perhaps incorrectly--thought would be clear enough for an HVAC person to understand. I will steal your self-test in the near future, Jim, and see how well I'm 'splaining stuff.

John

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  • 6 years later...

Gentlemen,

I know that this is old thread, but I have a circa 1970 Hampton inn sized hotel with galvanized cold, hot, and drain piping throughout (the drains to go to cast iron sanitary drain risers).

I reviewed sections of the piping from the maintenance shop and they looked pretty clear and pretty thick walled.

History of pipe leaks over the past 3 years:

Hot water loop: 0 in 3 years

cold water suppy: 0 in 3 years

Drain piping: 2 total in the past 3 years

The area reportedly has hard water issues. They have water treatment but I really doubt if it has been used since 1970.

They do have issues with crud from the piping causing the aerators to need replacement approximately once every 3 yrs.

What would you recommend?

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What's commercial code require in Atlanta? In Chicago, a hotel would have to be iron.

Also, if it's been 3 years since leaks and/or problems, then I'd say it's about due. I'd probably tell them it's a bunch of old iron pipe, there've been problems, there will be more problems. After that, I wouldn't know unless I've seen it and had the chance to dig deeper.

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1993, but if they replaced the piping, would they have gone back with galvanized (assuming that you are implying that it has been replaced)?

I'm not implying it has been replaced.

The industry standard for the cycle of significant renovation to all rooms in a hotel is 12 years. I would advise the clients that this hotel is overdue (there's probably plenty of visible evidence of the need). Have all parts of the ancient plumbing replaced during the needed renovation.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I did an inspection in mid-June. The house was occupied at the time of inspection. In the crawlspace I saw a piece of corroded galvanized drain piping. The exact words in my report were

"REPAIR - Corrosion is present on the galvanized drain piping in the crawlspace. If this piece of piping were to rust through, the leak could go undetected for an extended period of time. I recommend replacement of this section of drain piping."

Sure enough, this pipe leaked. The customer didn't get it fixed until after it leaked. The plumber told my customer that I missed a 4" hole and that the corrosion inside the pipe is now clogging the rest of the drain. So, the customer wants me to replace all of the drainpiping in the crawlspace.

I just said no. My question: am I right in thinking that there very easily could have been a 4" hole just waiting to happen under the corrosion that I resisted the temptation to poke at during the inspection?

Seems plain and simple enough to me anyway.[^]

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