Should copper repiping include the main line?

joeigirl2000May 10, 2006

Hello, we're in the process of shopping for bids from copper repiping specialists. Most of them have given us quotes starting from the main distributing line (starts from the side of the house only) and all throughout the house. However, another guy mentioned it was also important to include the main supply line (starts from the street all the way to the house) because the pipe is galvanized and that in time, we might have to replace it as it would thin out and it's cheaper to do it now while they're doing the house re-piping. What are your thoughts on this? Thank you so much!

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If you're replumbing in copper, start from the meter at the street. It simply makes no sense to leave a small portion of your plumbing vulnerable problems -- especially the part that supplies all of the rest of your plumbing.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 2:03AM
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It could be reasonable not to replace the house main. For one thing, these are two different jobs, one below ground and one within the building. As such, the overlap of work time and readiness of the plumber is a small savings compared to the investment in excavation.

Pipe replacement in the house is often done because of a great reduction in flow, due to calcification in old iron pipes. That issue is not likely to be so for the customer line, because it is much larger.

Sometimes the condition of IP plumbing that is replaced is so awful it is disgusting to think that it was recently used for potable water. But, in reality, to the extent they supply water, and when undisturbed, they supply virtually the same quality that is available at the source.

In fact, the accumulation of solids in a supply line is evidence that the water is somewhat cleaner after leaving deposits behind.

It is entirely possible that  while you may see immediate benefits from re-piping to house  you may never realize a benefit from re-piping the supply line. Of course, one way to test that theory is to do them in two separate operations.

Cost-wise, the contractor said, "Â it's cheaper to do it now while they're doing the house re-piping." Is this supported by real-number estimates? I suspect their argument is like all business: "Save money by buying."

Now, if you want a really good job, have the city replace all the piping from their supply to your house.

Just another point of view. Operates on the nostrum, "If it ainÂt broke, donÂt fix it."


    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 8:35AM
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Most re-piping is bid where I live by what the owner wants. If you want it all replaced you have to tell the bidder. It's common practice to have a separate bid for exposed pipe, concealed pipe, and underground. "Most" local water suppliers will only work on the line to the property line. It comes down to your call. Luck

    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 1:46PM
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Save your money on the plumbing from your house to the street. Tell your plumber that if he can prove that the street plumbing is blocked, you will consider it. The test is simple. Have him disconnect the house plumbing at the meter on the house side and measure the flow rate out of a test spigot. I will bet it is ok. Sooo, don't do it.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2006 at 12:46PM
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It would be a good idea to test that line...but, if I had to make a bet, without testing, I'd say replace the galvanized. If that line isn't compromised now it will be at some point in the future. You don't say how old your plumbing is. But I can tell you that I replaced the main supply line to my 40 year old house (10' sections of galvanized) and it was totally corroded: I tried to look through one 10' long section and there was no light coming through. If it had been a human, it would have needed a bypass operation.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2006 at 2:33AM
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I forgot to mention that the main supply line from the meter is the chokepoint for the rest of your system, so redoing your house with all copper may only make a modest improvement if the water has to go through a compromised galvanized pipe to get to the rest of the system.
If it's a money issue, do what I did: I hired a couple of teenagers to dig down and unearth the line (about 2' down) and then I bought a roll of 1" copper supply line that I laid out in the ditch and hooked up to the meter. The water company was even willing to give me a new fitting to connect up to the meter.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2006 at 2:39AM
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I REALY need to repipe. What material is the best/cost efficient and how about this outside stuff you are talking about? I certainly can't do it. What is that and is it an extra cost? What kind of estimates should I expect for a northern CA tract mosest house? And ...where are the hidden costs in all of this. Please help-I am not sure where to start-I hear ads on the radio ALL of the time.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2006 at 12:04PM
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In my jurisdiction I generally don't recommend replacing the supply line from the street to the house. Why? Because our local natural gas supplier offers what they call a "Line Backer Policy". In essence for an additional $5 month on your gas bill the offer an insurance on all buried utility lines except telephone and cable TV. This means that if you have gas line, sewer line or water supply line fail they replace it under the service agreement.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2006 at 6:14AM
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You should replace all the pipe in your home starting for the meter at the street to get the best result. You have 2 choices either use Copper pipe or Pex pipe (plastic) both is very good. Copper is a bit more expensive but worth the money. Pex pipe is also very good and cost less the copper. The only difference is copper has a longer warranty than Pex pipe does. Copper is warranty for 50 years where Pex is warranty for 25 years. For more information you can call Ameri-Cal Repipe and Plumbing (626) 610-3015 or (877) 789-7786. They have over 15 years experience in the field and they come highly recommended.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 9:17AM
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