Old iron pipe / water heater replacement
I am having a rather brutal experience with a plumber I am dealing with who was referred to me by a friend. I purchased a fourplex in downtown Montreal. I'm not sure how many of you are familiar with Montreal, but we have some pretty old buildings! Mine was built in 1875, young compared to others. Now the issue(s)!
I hired a plumber who had done all of the plumbing and electrical work in a large 12 unit residential building for a friend. So, having a fourplex with four apartments, I thought that this would be an easy job compared to what he has done.
There are old iron pipes running through the two highest apartments (second and third floor. Some of the exposed pipes were already converted to copper pipes on the second floor but the rest are all the original iron pipes. Also, the water heaters were 18 and 20 year old Ruuds. The water when not run for a few hours was full of rust! I asked the plumber to exchange all iron pipes and install new water heaters.
I was thinking of using flexible piping, but he advised me against it as the temperature in the winter can go as low as -40C in bad winters. He said that if a flexible pipe froze, you could not easily unblock it. Inserting something into the pipe to unblock it could rip the pipe. So, we went with copper flex piping.
1) He went ahead and replaced the riser coming up to these floors but left one pipe in the wall that is iron. He said that it was screwed into a wooden beam and he couldn't replace it. Is this true, or is he just not willing to do the work?
2) Pipes running under the floor to the kitchen and bathroom sinks have been left in iron. He said that he couldn't change them because they ran through the beams and were under the floor. I contacted another plumber who told me he could change them using a fishing device going under the floor. Does this sound possible? Also, would that mean that he is using flexible piping that could freeze? Does the floor really need to be opened? Can it cause issues with the beam/structure if it is replaced since this is an old building?
3) He said that the increased water pressuer from most of the risers that he replaced will push out rust particles/chunks sitting in the old iron pipes that remain. I saw the iron pipes that he was able to remove and they were full of all kinds of rusty crap!!! I was amazed that water got through them! Can they still block up? Will the improved water pressure really clear the crap out? Or, is this just not true?
4) I asked him to replace the valves or add valves to each sink/tub/shower/toilet so that the building was at code. I noticed some changes and not others. In one instance the old shut valve was still there and a new one!!! Is this normal or am I being royally screwed?
5) I had to bring the water heaters to the building myseld as well as other materials. Having to put the electric water heaters on their side and transporting them in their boxes up narrow stairs created a few dents. The plumber said this will do nothing as there is insulation between the outer and inner metal tank. Should I be worried? Also, will the remaining iron pipe on the risers push debris into the new water heaters and damage them?
6) So far this guy has not verified his work on two occasions. Once I opened the water when I came home to find out that he and his assistant had gone without re-opening and checking their work. I opened the water and soon discovered that water was running in the wall down from the third floor into the second floor bathroom and already coming down onto my fireplace on the first floor! He wouldn't pick up his phone, ended up coming over a day later (we had no water) and then blamed me for it. It turned out he forgot to close a valve on a pipe he was working on! Yesterday, when he left I discovered that a joint was mildly leaking under a tap. I have already paid about $1000 to change some of the risers, install two water heaters, and install about 5 valves. Is this too high in terms of cost considering the work is still not complete? A friend of mine finds this reasonable. Please remember that I had to bring the water heaters to the house, and also the other materials.
Any and all help/comments from plumbing professionals would be greatly appreciated!!!