Replacement Plumbing

2021 Mar 14

Last weekend Andrew and I replaced the water plumbing in his house. The supply lines were galvanized steel and internal rust was restricting the water flow.

His house was built almost a hundred years ago. I could see that some additional plumbing work had been done since that time. However, we tore out and completely replaced all the supply and most of the drain water lines. (Day 1)

All the removed old metal plumbing

Austin helped Andrew and I on this first day, so it was very enjoyable to work together as a team on this project.

The drain lines were in a bad way too. Some were almost completely blocked by sludge and corrosion.

Cross-section of a partially-blocked drain line

This is a modest house with a plumbing layout centered around the kitchen and the bathroom areas. That simplified the work to just these two locations. A couple of years ago, the kitchen drains had failed and we had replaced them. Now we completed the removal and replacement of the drains in the bathroom area.

Unsurprisingly, the major outflow drain pipes are cast iron. The seals between the largest of these were made by poured lead. We were not prepared to replace those connections, so we connected the new ABS plastic to stubs on the existing drains. (Day 2)


For the supply lines, we used PEX, which is a semi-flexible plastic line. We used PEX type A which uses a connection method that temporarily expands the pipe at the fittings instead of crimping down on them. I bought a power tool that does this expansion, and it was wonderful to use - easy and efficient. So much faster than copper soldering everywhere!

Pex line connections underneath the house

The flexible pipe meant that you did not need to make connections to turn corners. This also helped make the job go faster. I did need to solder some fittings for the PEX to copper lines in a couple of places, but that worked out well too.

Pex line connections to the washer

This job mostly was a performance repair to the house, but we were able to add a new feature: a water supply to the fridge for its automatic ice maker. Bethany really likes her ice water, so she is happy about that.


There is very little clearance under Andrew’s house, so we had to fireman crawl around. Because of this, I got bruises on my arms and legs and my core muscles were very sore. The soreness is mostly gone now, but the work was a substantial effort.

We found that rolling was the fastest way to move underneath the house. This was funny to me even though it was very practical. And I noticed that I get dizzy more quickly than I did when I was a child! (Day 3)


During this work when the house was without water, Andrew and Bethany stayed with us at our place. Bethany and the girls spent the days here while Andrew and I were working. Melanie really enjoyed this time. Sheridan rolled for the first time while she was here, and it is fun to be present to see it happen.

Andrew called for the building inspection the next day. The inspector listed some minor things for Andrew to correct, but it was OK for them to move back home. Andrew has been finishing the inspector’s list of to-dos and will need to patch sections of the wall in the bathroom where we accessed the old and new lines.

It was a very successful project.