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Thread: Should I replace original copper plumbing before plaster job?

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    Should I replace original copper plumbing before plaster job?

    I bought a home in Los Angeles in 2011 with a large roughly 20x40 1957 pool. We've since upgraded the pool pump/ DE Filter and above ground plumbing. Now it's time to re-plaster and re-tile. We also requested a quote to jack hammer out and replace the skimmer since it's got fist-size holes in the gunite within the skimmer. I plugged up the skimmer holes with epoxy-putty 2 summers ago and it's held up well. No leaks that I have noticed are coming from the pool.

    I know the underground plumbing is all the original copper plumbing. Our entire pool deck is concrete so it would require a lot of jack hammer work to get to the plumbing. We are already stretching our budget to do the plaster/tile and skimmer. Adding new PVC plumbing to replace the copper plumber would put us over-budget when we have lots of other practical things to do to the house like new roof and windows ect.

    Is it fine to hold off on replace the copper plumbing? Or would it cost A LOT more to do it later on it's own? If it starts to leak later will I need to drain the pool AGAIN to address the plumbing issue? I'm concerned due to the upcoming new water restrictions with drought-stricken CA.

    Our pool guy hasn't given us an estimate on the job yet.. but he wasn't planning on doing the plumbing... He just kinda went.. "Hmmm.. 50+ year old copper plumbing... yeah".

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    Re: Should I replace original copper plumbing before plaster job?

    Personally from one Californian to another, I understand the dire state of our water supply that we ship to LA but I also know how the budget plays in owning a house, if and only if your plumbing is not leaking do not replace it yet if it's not in the budget, windows in our California heat are just as important and make a judge difference. Don't forte to show us pics of your work on the pool!!

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    Patrick_B's Avatar
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    Re: Should I replace original copper plumbing before plaster job?

    Welcome to the forum Rmm,

    I think I would not replace it. You can manage the chemistry where any copper issues are minimal if anything. Unless of course it has leaks, but that's another case.
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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Should I replace original copper plumbing before plaster job?

    I would replace it. Anything with copper plumbing is quite old and the copper is likely to be nearing the end of it's life. It also almost certainly has smaller pipe than would be used these days.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    Re: Should I replace original copper plumbing before plaster job?

    Thanks for the information... Anyone know if a pool always needs drained completely to change plumbing? Or can you do repairs and swap out PVC by just plugging up the inside of the pool?

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Should I replace original copper plumbing before plaster job?

    A concrete pool nearly always needs to be drained down below the fixture to make this kind of replacement. Depending on where the return is and if you have a main drain, that may only be a limited partial drain.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    Patrick_B's Avatar
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    Re: Should I replace original copper plumbing before plaster job?

    You'll have to drain to replace it all.

    My suggestion not to replace was based on the point you made about the budget. It didn't sound like it was feasible for you at this time. It's a gamble and no one can predict when you'll have a failure. There could be ten years left in those pipes.

    More, less, who knows?
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    Re: Should I replace original copper plumbing before plaster job?

    Thanks again... for budget reasons I decided to seal up my skimmer on the FAR SIDE of the pool that wasn't being used anyway for whatever reason. (It was plugged up when i moved in to the home.. and I'm afraid to open that can of worms... suspect maybe the owners had a leak on that side and shut off plumbing to that side). And I am replacing the working skimmer closest to the pump/filter instead. My pool guy included in his quote installing of a split drain to replace the existing old-style main drain in our 9 ft deep end.

    I asked for a quote on replacing the copper plumbing from the new split main drain to the new skimmer. He quoted me $350 on top of the $1600 for the skimmer replacement and split drain line install.

    I agreed to this figuring it would the hardest pipes to get at and require the pool be drained completely to access. This way if i do have plumbing problems with the copper down the road.. I would only have to drain the pool to just below the skimmer level to work on the copper lines that run from the pump under my concrete to the pool sides. (which are just below the tile line).

    Anyway... Also this probably saves me at minimum $1000-1500 were i to replace all the plumbing. I'll post before and after pics when it's all done... I went with budget white plaster and still picking out the tile. Not touching the coping. But anything will be an upgrade on our pitted, green black algae covered pool.

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    Re: Should I replace original copper plumbing before plaster job?

    I was looking at pictures of pool plumbing... I've seen different variations of the main drain.. Some show the main drain leading directly into the SKIMMER...and then another line running from the skimmer to the PUMP. other pictures show the main drain line running directly to the pump and bypassing the skimmer entirely. Then a 3rd even shows a skimmer and main drain line meeting somewhere in the middle on the pool wall and then going to the pump.

    What would be normal for a 1957 pool? I'm really hoping by replacing my main drain plumbing to the skimmer I will prevent future leaks at the bottom of the pool and make any future plumbing leaks easier to reach.

    Thanks!

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Should I replace original copper plumbing before plaster job?

    All three configurations are possible in 1957. Plumbing each separately back to the pad was less common then compared to now, but was still done now and then.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    Re: Should I replace original copper plumbing before plaster job?

    Little by little... I'm getting more plumbing done on the pool it seems. Today my pool guy wanted to run new 2" PVC pipe back to the pump from the skimmer for an extra $200... So I'll have all new plumbing from split drain up to skimmer and back to the pump. He's sealing off the skimmer on the far side of the pool. It wasn't running before and would have required a lot of plumbing to reach that side of the pool.

    So.. the only underground plumbing that will stay copper will be the two return lines on the side of the pool. It was gonna be another $750 to replace those.. and I almost agreed to it.. but I also have some cracks in the pool that might need staples, so things could get out of hand real fast.

    Already doing about $2150 of plumbing with the new skimmer/split drain lines and new PVC from drains to skimmer and back to the pump. If all my plumbing weren't buried under concrete... it would be much simpler.

    Figure worst case scenario... If leaks pop up in the return lines I don't have to drain the pool entirely to reach them.

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