Low Volume in Older Apartment Building
I'm on the Board of a 34 unit coop apartment building. Our building is 77 years old and legend has it that we have original piping. Over the years, the coop has taken a patchwork approach to plumbing problems that have come up (largely drainage leaks and clogs).
Now, several unit are complaining of low volume with their hot water. In most cases, however, a unit will have a more serious problem with, say, the bathroom sink than with the shower. In a couple of instances, we have replaced sections of piping that shows serious deposits. Hot water in my own apartment often comes out brown.
In a couple of units, we have the classic problem where one person loses all volume in the shower when the next door neighbor takes a shower at the same time. This, for some reason, makes people very emotional.
I manage to keep my volume just fine by occasionally cleaning the grit out of my shower head and faucet aerators. Just yesterday, I helped improve the volume in a neighbor's sink by pulling out the fixture's values, removing the aerator and clearing out any grit that was around.
In our coop, we now have one contingent of folks who are on the verge of insisting that we develop a multi-year plan to replace all of our plumbing. There is another group who have to be pushed into raising our dues just to meet our regular expenses and are either not experiencing, or just fine with, less than optimal plumbing.
Everyone has opinions. No one really knows for sure what they're talking about. Our regular plumber is not a terribly effective communicator. He's starting to hint at the need for the replumbing, but some folks trust his judgment, while others do not.
My questions are:
1. What questions should we be asking ourselves and the plumber?
2. What steps should we take before breaking into (lovely lath and plaster) walls and replacing pipes?