Connecting old plumbing. . .

I realize that I'm asking a very general and ambiguous question, but I really have no better view of my plumbing problem than someone reading this for the first time. So let me just say, I'm only asking for educated guesses, not precise answers.
We live in a six-unit coop apartment building, with two units on each of the first three floors.
The top floor has six dormitory-style rooms which once served as the living quarters of servants -- one for each unit, I'm sure. There was a bathroom at one end of the hall, a kitchen at the other.
In the 1950s the fourth-floor was converted to storage rooms, and the plumbing was disconnected.
So to get to the point: I'd like to reconnect the plumbing so that we could make these rooms habitable once more, to be used as guest rooms.
All the connections are still in place, with pipes capped off. I'm sure the old pipes were left in place, but I'm also sure they're rusted completely shut at this point. So replacement of the pipes with copper is no doubt the starting point.
The bathroom that we want to reconnect is directly above the main water supply in the basement, hot and cold.
My question is, are we looking at a fairly simple and easy project?
Or can we expect a five-figure layout which would involve tearing out walls, etc.?
As I said, all I'm seeking is educated guesses.
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On 1/20/2012 7:03 AM, Ray wrote:

Nothing today is cheap, but if pex and pvc are allowed in your area, and there is an open chase from the basement to the 4th floor, it is probably affordable. I'd call a couple of local plumbers and get their opinions and rough estimates
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I've heard that PEX is suited for this kind of job. Fairly flexible, cut to length, and crimp on the connectors.
Christopher A. Young Learn more about Jesus www.lds.org .
I realize that I'm asking a very general and ambiguous question, but I really have no better view of my plumbing problem than someone reading this for the first time. So let me just say, I'm only asking for educated guesses, not precise answers.
We live in a six-unit coop apartment building, with two units on each of the first three floors.
The top floor has six dormitory-style rooms which once served as the living quarters of servants -- one for each unit, I'm sure. There was a bathroom at one end of the hall, a kitchen at the other.
In the 1950s the fourth-floor was converted to storage rooms, and the plumbing was disconnected.
So to get to the point: I'd like to reconnect the plumbing so that we could make these rooms habitable once more, to be used as guest rooms.
All the connections are still in place, with pipes capped off. I'm sure the old pipes were left in place, but I'm also sure they're rusted completely shut at this point. So replacement of the pipes with copper is no doubt the starting point.
The bathroom that we want to reconnect is directly above the main water supply in the basement, hot and cold.
My question is, are we looking at a fairly simple and easy project?
Or can we expect a five-figure layout which would involve tearing out walls, etc.?
As I said, all I'm seeking is educated guesses.
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wrote:

Good eye....... Nov 2011
http://groups.google.com/group/alt.home.repair/browse_thread/thread/e89001147016307a/66288f9b2fc996b1?lnk=gst&q=connecting+to+old+plumbing+capped#66288f9b2fc996b1
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wrote:

I remember seeing it too. But I knew it wasn't several years ago. Because I don't remember anything from several years ago. Just as before, not enough info to make it worth thinking about.
--Vic
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On Fri, 20 Jan 2012 07:03:25 -0500, Ray wrote:

They might be junk, but it's worth testing them (pressurise just using air at first, although subsequent filling with hot water and resulting joint expansion might throw up problems). If you can avoid having to tear up walls and floors to replace pipe then that's a good thing!
Back in 2001 I was working at a site in New Zealand that was shut down after WWII, and we got the plumbing there up and running with minimal effort; the pipes were fine, but some of the valves (big old gate valves, the main feed was something like 3" OD) needed replacement as they'd corroded to the point that they'd no longer seal.
cheers
Jules
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On 1/20/2012 6:03 AM, Ray wrote:

think PEX.
--
Steve Barker
remove the "not" from my address to email
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@Ray:
The real answer is what do your zoning rules allow for... How many units/bedrooms is your building permitted for ?
Rooms that were allowed for occupancy for servants in the past were generally quite small and thus they may be too small in size to be used as living quarters or sleeping rooms under modern building codes...
So you have six one-time "bedrooms" which were converted to storage rooms a long long time ago... That would probably qualify as a rooming house use/occupancy under present building codes since all of the single rooms would share a single bathroom... Sleeping rooms in a boarding/rooming house have specific minimum size requirements that apply to them...
You might be looking at a six figure layout at bare minimum to upgrade egress pathways, gutting out all the walls to ensure fire safe and rated construction between all rooms and the common corridor and installing fire rated doors for all the sleeping rooms... Many jurisdictions require fire sprinkler protection for ALL lodging type occupancies, a rooming house qualifies as a lodging type occupancy and the same life safety codes that apply to hotels/motels apply to that type of use if you were allowed to construct it in your building... In addition to the bathroom you would also need an approved kitchen facility, as the "guest rooms" can not rely on any of the facilities contained inside any of the other six existing units and are considered independently of them and must be supported and properly equipped as if they are a unit of their own...
Does the 4th floor presently have access to fire escapes or code approved egress windows ? Is there a fire door in the hallway near the stairway on that floor or any of the others ? What type of fire alarm system does the building presently have installed in it ?
You seem to be thinking about this project from the wrong direction, you are asking how cheaply you could go about reactivating a long abandoned bathroom on the top floor of your coop building rather than researching whether or not that occupancy/use would be allowed in the building given the 60+ year abandonment of the occupancy as sleeping quarters...
Since these "guest rooms" are not contiguous with any of the six approved and permitted units currently existing in the building and the construction is not contemporaneous with any of the recent improvements to the building... Has this building been a coop since the 1950's ? Is there space in the basement to replace the storage space presently on the 4th floor if you could obtain approval to build out what you want to do up there ?
A lot more actual information is required before even an educated guess can be supplied here... Your first task in a feasibility study is a trip to your local building official or department and zoning office to see if your proposed use would be allowed at present or if you would have to have architects and engineers put together a set of plans to present before a zoning variance request hearing...
It might not be worth all the trouble involved to accomplish what you seek to do, it is also not something that will be possible for less than $100,000 no matter where you are in the country -- you are looking at a minimum of gutting down to bare studs to rid the area of lead paint and to gain access to install proper electrical wiring for modern requirements...
Some alternatives you should consider if you don't have access to real funding or don't want to experience a long drawn out permitting/approval process for this project are:
1. Leave it all alone the way it currently exists...
Pull out couch beds exist for a reason...
2. Repartition the 4th floor space into one small studio size apartment complete with a kitchen facility and enclosed bathroom inside the unit and redivide the rest of the space into six as equally sized storage rooms as you can get out of the volume...
As a coop you would be able to share the one enclosed studio unit when guest accommodations are required...
3. Same as above but partition the space into as many small studio size apartment units as you are allowed by zoning/code/permit and eliminate the storage rooms altogether...
4. Reactivate the bathroom and kitchen and remove all the other partitions on the 4th floor and use the entire space as a large community room, an indoor play space for any children or a useful room for any of the six units to use when having a larger party for entertaining...
It will not be as simple or easy as just reconnecting the plumbing in the bathroom and declaring that each unit in your coop now has a "guest bedroom" on the 4th floor, so you need to realize that right now and seek advice of the local building officials in your area and a qualified and licensed general contractor and fire protection contractor...
I hope this doesn't get you down about your idea, it does sound very fair and equitable to everyone in the building but sounds as if it will cost quite a bit more money and involve upgrades and improvements to the 4th floor and rest of the building that go way beyond the scope you were considering...
~~ Evan
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wrote:

I'd tend to agree. They were capped off, but likely still are under pressure, unless there is a shutoff. If they have been shut off, carefully watch them while a friend opens the valve. Have your cellphones or pair of walkie-talkies on hand if you are on different floors. Tuen on the valve just a little and watch for problems. If all is fine, remove caps and flush out the pipes. Then start hooking up fixtures. If there are any other valves in these old pipes, even shutoff valves under sinks, replace the washers or the valves. This should not be costly at all if the pipes are still functional, and likely are.
The drain pipes may clog if they have not been used in years. Crud dried and will pack together when water is first dumped down. Have a plbg snake handy. If the walls are open, replace the drain pipes with PVC as far down as possible. They likely connect to plumbing on the 3rd floor.
If you need to replace water pipes, I'd stick with the copper. PEX has been suggested, and some people swear by it. Myself, I swear AT it. It's cheap, but you get what you pay for. Pex was designed for trailer homes and temporary plumbing or vacation cabins. When *real* pipes leak, they generally just develop a pinhole. When pex fails, you'll have a river of water pouring between the walls and flooding all 4 floors of that house. I've seen it happen.
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On Jan 21, 5:17pm, snipped-for-privacy@myplace.com wrote:

PEX was NOT designed for trailer homes and temporary plumbing...
If you are going to try to sound like an expert then know your stuff man... PEX was developed for in-floor radiant tubing runs for heating using circulated hot water through an unbroken loop...
What PEX was NOT designed for is to be used like traditional sticks of copper piping with connections buried in the walls... It is meant to be a "home run" topology with each point of use being fed from a manifold...
When plumbing fails it will make a mess no matter what type of piping or tubing it is -- the PEX will expand with the water as it freezes, the connectors are what fail which is why none should be used in a PEX run as the material was designed to be used in unbroken runs with no inaccessible fittings...
~~ Evan
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On Jan 21, 5:17pm, snipped-for-privacy@myplace.com wrote:

I would tend to disagree with your assumption that the abandoned piping sticking out of the walls in the bathrooms would still be "active" and under pressure... Especially if most of the rest of the building's water lines have been replaced with copper...
The OP didn't mention if each of the six units in the building has its' own water meter, but generally if plumbing is replaced with copper they don't leave any of the old stuff connected to fail down the line... Also if each unit had its own water meter then nothing not connected to a specific unit's meter would be left pressurized...
~~ Evan
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Thanks for very thoughtful responses. This is most helpful.
"Ray" wrote in message
I realize that I'm asking a very general and ambiguous question, but I really have no better view of my plumbing problem than someone reading this for the first time. So let me just say, I'm only asking for educated guesses, not precise answers.
We live in a six-unit coop apartment building, with two units on each of the first three floors.
The top floor has six dormitory-style rooms which once served as the living quarters of servants -- one for each unit, I'm sure. There was a bathroom at one end of the hall, a kitchen at the other.
In the 1950s the fourth-floor was converted to storage rooms, and the plumbing was disconnected.
So to get to the point: I'd like to reconnect the plumbing so that we could make these rooms habitable once more, to be used as guest rooms.
All the connections are still in place, with pipes capped off. I'm sure the old pipes were left in place, but I'm also sure they're rusted completely shut at this point. So replacement of the pipes with copper is no doubt the starting point.
The bathroom that we want to reconnect is directly above the main water supply in the basement, hot and cold.
My question is, are we looking at a fairly simple and easy project?
Or can we expect a five-figure layout which would involve tearing out walls, etc.?
As I said, all I'm seeking is educated guesses.
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i would get some estimates from plumbers.
PEX is the way too go:)
Is the existing line copper or galavanzed?
dont disturb old galavanized unless you want to replace all the pipe in the building
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wrote:

What do you mean "disturb?" Crack open a joint that's got nothing to do with what you're doing? Then do the same progressively through the house? Why would you do that? All I'll say is if you don't know how to handle 2 pipe wrenches at once, get a real plumber. He won't disturb anything.
--Vic
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