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  • Plumber removed copper to replace with PEX

    I own a house that's about 100 years old in New York state and I am having my basement renovated. The previous homeowners many years ago installed radiators in the basement to heat one large room (30 x 20) and a smaller room (15 x 12). The rest of the basement consists of a room with a boiler and hot water heater and is not heated.

    With the renovation we're having sheet rock installed to close in the ceilings in both rooms (both are now open to rafters). I called a plumber we've used before to come and give me an estimate on three things: moving into the ceiling some of the low-hanging copper piping feeding radiators on the first floor, take out the old radiators which are in the way of a new entrance door, and then install new steel radiators.

    The plumber came yesterday to give me the estimate and said while he was here he could move some of the copper that might be in the way of the framers as they frame the walls. I said that would be fine. Next thing I know, in about 30 minutes he and a helper stripped the entire cellar of all copper piping that feeds the heating system. My other contractor came upstairs to ask me if I wanted all of the copper removed and said the plumber told him he was going to take the copper for scrap and would do us a favor and also take some discarded cast iron radiators while he was at it.

    When I went down to ask the plumber about it he was getting ready to leave, but told me my estimate for the job would be $2700 not including the steel radiators, and that he would be replacing all the copper piping with "heat runs" or PEX. I asked why he needed to remove all of the copper and he said, again, that most of it would be replaced with PEX, but that he would re-use some of the copper. I told him to put into the boiler room anything that was going to be re-used, but that I was not authorizing him to take any of the other copper for scrap - he should leave it and if we wanted to scrap it, we would. At that point he had his helper take all but two small pipes from the "scrap" pile outside the basement and put it into the furnace room. A friend who owns a scrap yard told me the copper he removed is worth about $1000 for scrap.

    Was there any reason to remove all of this copper? He took out all of the copper feeding the upstairs radiators, even though those pipes are in a different heat zone and most weren't in the way of the sheet rock. There were only three pipes in the way of the sheetrockers and we just wanted them moved, not removed. Anyway, I feel like I've been robbed and forced to do more work at more expense than I ever wanted. At this time I need to replumb my entire heating system in the basement. I'd appreciate any suggestions on what to do next.
    Last edited by Sydney6; 05-15-2011, 05:24 AM.

  • #2
    Re: Plumber removed copper to replace with PEX

    did you have any written contract before he started? out here there is a 3 day right to rescind on a contract unless you waive that right due to an emergency.

    i don't do hvac/ hydronics. but i don't think there's anything wrong with pex for the replacement.
    i would seriously have a talk with the boss and find out why they tore out all the stuff that was not in the scope of work. especially since they were scrapping your copper for cash.

    rick.
    phoebe it is

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    • #3
      Re: Plumber removed copper to replace with PEX

      I think you got robbed

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Plumber removed copper to replace with PEX

        Just so you know, in Toronto, Canada, scrap yards are paying $3.23 a pound for #1 copper as of last week. (and the Canadian and US dollar are basically equal these days)

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Plumber removed copper to replace with PEX

          The only thing I can think of is...he took it upon himself to think you wouldn't want to pay the price for copper to be re-routed in copper.

          Personally what he did was un-professional, and he should of explained EXACTLY what he was going to do before he did it.

          As far as $1000.00 of scrap for that copper...noway! I save copper & brass through an entire year, and I'm lucky if I get close to $1000.00 for all the scrap I have.
          Last edited by Flux; 05-15-2011, 10:30 AM.

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          • #6
            Re: Plumber removed copper to replace with PEX

            it really sucks, because you would like to live in a world where you don't have to worry about having contracts, and a simple conversation between two men, for a small job can be trusted, but it looks like you just learned a lesson as to why you need a written contract or at the very least a statement of scope before you let anyone touch your house. I learned that same lesson.

            I think what you do next depends on whether you think this was a simple misunderstanding or if there was any nefarious intent.

            If you think this was an honest misunderstanding and can still trust him to be in your house, have a respectful conversation with him and see if you two can come up with a remedy.

            If you honestly think this man was trying to rip you off and intentionally disregarded your wishes in an attempt to take advantage of you, talk to him, see what he says then if not satisfied take him to small claims court to recoup your damages. In NYS the max claim is $5,000.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Plumber removed copper to replace with PEX

              I wouldn't want this person in My home another minute! Bad Man!
              I can build anything You want , if you draw a picture of it , on the back of a big enough check .

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Plumber removed copper to replace with PEX

                Once again we only hear one side of the story. Sounds to me like the plumber knows what he's doing and may be doing a very good job. I scrap all my copper, nothing unusual about it. From the sound of what he took out it may be worth around a hundred bucks if that, no way a thousand!

                If you think you're being ripped off then pay the man for his time and materials and call someone else, Good Luck!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Plumber removed copper to replace with PEX

                  Originally posted by ironranger View Post
                  Once again we only hear one side of the story. Sounds to me like the plumber knows what he's doing and may be doing a very good job. I scrap all my copper, nothing unusual about it. From the sound of what he took out it may be worth around a hundred bucks if that, no way a thousand!

                  If you think you're being ripped off then pay the man for his time and materials and call someone else, Good Luck!
                  I think I'm leaning this way too. A thousand dollars of scrap copper from a residence? Sounds way high. Have to see the pile. I know myself that some homeowners think they are gonna' get cheated in some way by a plumber taking the old copper or an electrician taking some wire.

                  I can guess pretty quick how much it's worth vs. time & gas to recycle it. I usually just tell them "here you go". Not worth it to me and they think they've done real well too.


                  J.C.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Plumber removed copper to replace with PEX

                    I suggest finding another contractor and make sure your both are on the same page before the work begins.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Plumber removed copper to replace with PEX

                      "he took it upon himself to think you wouldn't want to pay the price for copper to be re-routed in copper"

                      Gimme a break.......Copper cost $12.99 a stick and Home Depot in Toronto (1/2" "M" type) so if he used 5-10-20 sticks.....come on...not the end of the world to reroute a few pipes in copper.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Plumber removed copper to replace with PEX

                        Exactly! Even with pex , maybe he thought pex would be better in this situation who knows? Lot's of times I will use pex over copper. He's most likely doing this for a reason, I doubt it's just because of the scrap copper and I'll say it again, no way it's a thousand dollars worth of copper. The entire house doesn't have a thousand dollars worth of copper in it for scrap. The plumbing contractor sounds good to me, no reason to fire him over such a trivial thing.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Plumber removed copper to replace with PEX

                          12.99 a stick! holy crap i'll take semi load
                          my cost on 1/2 M is just over a dollar a foot.


                          Originally posted by Chemeng View Post
                          "he took it upon himself to think you wouldn't want to pay the price for copper to be re-routed in copper"

                          Gimme a break.......Copper cost $12.99 a stick and Home Depot in Toronto (1/2" "M" type) so if he used 5-10-20 sticks.....come on...not the end of the world to reroute a few pipes in copper.
                          No, it's not rocket science, it's plumbing and unlike rocket science it requires a license.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Plumber removed copper to replace with PEX

                            Originally posted by Chemeng View Post
                            "he took it upon himself to think you wouldn't want to pay the price for copper to be re-routed in copper"

                            Gimme a break.......Copper cost $12.99 a stick and Home Depot in Toronto (1/2" "M" type) so if he used 5-10-20 sticks.....come on...not the end of the world to reroute a few pipes in copper.
                            Well slick it's about $50.00 a length (1/2") here in the United States.
                            Last edited by Flux; 05-15-2011, 07:40 PM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Plumber removed copper to replace with PEX

                              Remember, he says a "stick". A stick is no specific length.

                              That's probably for a 10' piece of 1/2" M. We all probably always think of "stick" being 20' because that's how most buy it.


                              J.C.

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