Fleecing of our elders

No pics…got a call from a concerned neighbor of an elderly person. Plumbing company came to her house stated she needed replumb of whole house because she had galvanised pipes. The house is on a slab built it the 70s which probly would not have galvy in a slab. I did a walk through and found that all the pipe that was cut out was copper…and replaced with copper. Good thing that her neighbors recognized this before closing up the drywall. WTF??? Did I miss Something?

Hope she paid by credit card so she can get her money back. Scumbags like that should be shot.

You might have missed something and that is the quality of the solder job. It might have been in the opinion of the Licensed Plumber that it was not done Professionally and will fail. It may even have been dripping at the area they sweat the pipe.


I am not one for the “test of time” BS inspectors like to throw out all willy-nilly, BUT, after 40 years in use, you expect us to fall for that ‘load-of-crock’?

As for the original reason for replacing all the piping, there are a few reasons, but without seeing the old piping installed, it is all just conjecture. Not much can be done about it now except perhaps reporting the incident to a consumer watchdog program and see if they will investigate. Crimes against the elderly are many, but often difficult to catch the culprits and bring charges. One reason is many alledged crimes turn out to be legitimate and mearly miscommunications or misunderstanding of the facts involved.

Hard to say what happened! If indeed the plumber did say all Galvanized it was hidden and was corrected with copper. No pictures No guess work.

One thing i tell all my clients, before hiring any contractor, ask friends, call the state contractors board too, heck call me. See what the track record is.Too many contractors are out to do this type of thing, not just to elderly.

People need to get at least two bids/opinions. If they differ greatly then a third should be called. It makes me sick to see (in manufactured homes) three perfectly good and completely different earth quake resistant bracing systems, when only one is needed

I did forget to mention that she had a home inspection done when she bought the home. It clearly states that it is plumbed with copper pipe. She did put stop payment on the check after the neighbors advised her of what was going on. My advice to her was to contact the company with the information and try to work it out. If that does not work then I will go back and take pictures and write a report of findings (for a fee) that she can use in court or when filing a claim on the contractors bond. This was a call that I did at no charge as I was in the area on another inspection.

You are right…and I have had to deal with these issues because the contractor that installed them, or the engineer that inspects them for me differ in their interpretation of the requirements. I back my engineer 100% as he is the one that has to put a stamp of approval (wet seal) on the documents. This problem usually arises in refinancing or reverse mortgage loans and ordered by the underwriter.

Got a call back from the homeowner who is ready to move forward with any action necessary to recover money for damages. Here are some photos of the copper pipe replacement that the contractor told her she needed. Notice the copper pipe that was cut and some of the damages these guys did to her framing and drywall.

They told her that the house was plumbed with galvanized pipe and that she needed to have it replaced with copper. Luckily a neighbor visited before they could get the drywall back together and closed up.

My consult report will be presented to the CSLB, Bond company and small claims if it gets that far.

Thanks for the follow-up Paul.

What year was it built? There may be another “angle” to go at here if some Remediation/pre '78 stuff wasn’t done.

What was the reason the call originated anyway? Maybe a slab leak and loop? Its a WAG, but it’s not unimaginable that the soils ate portions of the copper for lunch… a loop or partial repipe was being done and there’s some 'fusion going on… How many times do we say “something” and a neighbor/friend/whom-ever attempts to infuse/trump information… just to be helpful

or, that they were simply being sneaky… Again, someone called a plumber for a reason.

She had used the company to repair a leak in the past. She called again to have another leak fixed. While there he mentioned that the water pressure seemed low and that the cause of the water pressure was due to galvanized pipe and she should have all of it replaced. He also mentioned that the galvanized pipe would cause unusually high amounts of metal components in the water. The house had 1 place that had galvanized pipe which was the laundry room and was installed post purchase in 1989 by the husband. Funny thing is they did not replace that which was the only galvanized pipe in the home.

This house did not have galvanized supply pipes.

Well then, that sounds like it sums it up… not cool.

The CSLB may also question whether an “emergency” exists in regards to a 3 day cooling off period and/or the pre '78 stuff as well.