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Thread: Plumbing hasn't been used in years

  1. #1

    Default Plumbing hasn't been used in years

    I am going to be buying a house from a family member soon and have a few worries about it. For starters, it hasn't been occupied since 2001, and even then it was a rental. Second, the house is on a slab and has cement block outer walls. It was built in the 50's so I'm assuming the drain pipes are all cast iron. There are no large trees with roots near the house, but the brush is shoulder high around it(it's in a rural area). I'm hoping to renovate the house and turn it into rental property some day. Will it damage the plumbing and septic system if it hasn't been used in six years? I'm getting the house cheap, but I still hope I'm not in over my head. I assume I can go through the attic with new supply plumbing, but the drainage is my biggest worry.

  2. #2
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    I would have a plumber come out and get the plumbing system up and running. There are probably freeze breakes and a host of other problems. If it is on a septic system have it pumped and the tank inspected at the same time.

    Do you know if the leach field has ever been replaced?

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    DIY scratch-pad engineer leejosepho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by southernnaturelover
    Will it damage the ... septic system if it hasn't been used in six years?
    Dormancy is a good thing for a leach field, but I would still do as Cass has suggested and have everything checked.

  4. #4

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    I dont think the field lines have been replaced. If so, it would have been in the 70's or 80's. Freezing isn't usually a concern here since I'm near the gulf coast (it rarely gets under 25 degrees). My main concern was with the pipes being dry so long.

    There is actually two septic systems on the property. There used to be a mobile home behind the house, but it was moved out in the early 90's so it's probably even worse.

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    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    If there is no or minimal chance of freezing then most likely, if the copper hasen't been ripped out of it, you will have minimal problems.

    Leach fields will last 30-50 years on average but the main thing that determines the life is how often the tank is pumped. Solids going iito the leach field is what ruins the field.

  6. #6

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    I would put the leaching field on the bottom of the list of stuff to think about. It is for the good that it has sat unused for so long. I have problems with the leaching field form not pumping the tank when needed then letting them sit for 6 to 8 months if they can dry out they will be as good as new.

    If you donít have a trees around the field you should be good to go.

  7. #7

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    This makes me feel better about the septic system. Unfortunately the water pipes are not copper, I believe they are galvanized. I'm planning on having to replace them as they will probably be rusty.

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    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    If the house has been sitting that long without the water being on and being used I have seen where there is so much rust in a galvanized line that the line plugs when the water is turned on. I would suggest that you turn the water on at the street very very slowly say over a period of 1/2 an hour or so. This may allow the rust to find its way out without clogging the line. If the line is 3/4" it will be less likely to clog. Don't be surprised if it comes out a very dark brown almost black.
    Last edited by Cass; 07-09-2007 at 08:20 AM.

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    DIY scratch-pad engineer leejosepho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cass
    I would suggest that you turn the water on at the street very very slowly say over a period of 1/2 an hour or so ...
    ... and have all faucets both inside and out completely open with all aerators removed beforehand. Not only will that help while flushing the lines, but it could also reduce the flow at any leak until you begin closing faucets one at a time while listening and looking for any problem.

  10. #10
    Licensed Grump GrumpyPlumber's Avatar
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    bike pump, test gauge.
    Avoid possible water damage, if you prefer to.
    Get a schrader fitting (like the fill inlet on a car/bike tire)...put together a tee with a test gauge, schrader fitting and a hose connection (guy at hardware store can guide you)...connect it to an outside hose spigot and open it then pump the system up with a bike pump as high as you can get it (a compressor & high pressure gauge-100psi or better would be preferential, but I'll guess you don't have one handy)
    Let the gauge sit for a few hours with all fixtures/faucets off.
    If it doesn't hold, make sure there are no leaks on the gauge set-up or hose connection (you can use dishwashing liquid and water...wet it down and look for bubbles).

    IF it doesn't hold, you'll then need a compressor to pressurize it high enough to listen for hissing....eventually if there are any leaks you'd need a plumber anyway, he'd do all this.
    "The biggest regrets we have in life are the chances we never took."

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    I do have a compressor. I'll have to experiment with that.

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    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyPlumber
    bike pump, test gauge.
    Avoid possible water damage, if you prefer to.
    Get a schrader fitting (like the fill inlet on a car/bike tire)...put together a tee with a test gauge, schrader fitting and a hose connection (guy at hardware store can guide you)...connect it to an outside hose spigot and open it then pump the system up with a bike pump as high as you can get it (a compressor & high pressure gauge-100psi or better would be preferential, but I'll guess you don't have one handy)
    Let the gauge sit for a few hours with all fixtures/faucets off.
    If it doesn't hold, make sure there are no leaks on the gauge set-up or hose connection (you can use dishwashing liquid and water...wet it down and look for bubbles).

    IF it doesn't hold, you'll then need a compressor to pressurize it high enough to listen for hissing....eventually if there are any leaks you'd need a plumber anyway, he'd do all this.
    I wouldnt do that. You may have low enough pressure for the pipe to hold but 100# may burst it. Then you will have to replace the line coming in from the street.

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    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leejosepho
    ... and have all faucets both inside and out completely open with all aerators removed beforehand. Not only will that help while flushing the lines, but it could also reduce the flow at any leak until you begin closing faucets one at a time while listening and looking for any problem.
    No do not open all the faucets only an outside hose bib. The rust could be thick enough to clogg the faucets, ask me how i know.

  15. #15
    Licensed Grump GrumpyPlumber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cass
    I wouldnt do that. You may have low enough pressure for the pipe to hold but 100# may burst it. Then you will have to replace the line coming in from the street.
    true...thats why I mentioned the compressor...assumption went that (she?) doesn't have a compressor...I was then enlightened to the contrary.
    The assumtion is the water main to the street is off anyway.
    If low pressure doesn't hold...then you pump it high and listen for hissing.


    Quote Originally Posted by Cass
    No do not open all the faucets only an outside hose bib. The rust could be thick enough to clogg the faucets, ask me how i know.
    NO!
    Knots in my stomache just thinking of the story.
    "The biggest regrets we have in life are the chances we never took."

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