Re: Repairs & Oil heating… - Posted by Frank Chin
Posted by Frank Chin on March 24, 2004 at 04:41:53:
I own rentals built in the 50’s, and sold one built in 1941 not long ago.
The one I sold from 1941 was mainly due to plumbing problems. They’re not big ones, its just pipes would spring a leak now and then, and the plumber would have to come, chop holes in the walls, ceilings, and fix the leak.
One thing I found out was its difficult to find contractors and handyman to fix a hole in the ceiling properly, as it takes two or three small trips to do the job right.
For instance, the last leak in the building was during the time the place was already in contract. The pipes sprang a leak underneath the bathtub, and the plumber couldn’t get to it from below after chopping a hole in the ceiling, so he had to remove the vanity next to the tub, chop up a section of the tile floor (12" by 18"), and replaced the pipe. So do I replace the bathroom floor while the building is in contract?? No.
What I had to do was remove good tiles from below the vanity, cement up the 12" by 18" hole, then tile and rout the part of the floor that’s visible, leaving the area beneath the vanity with no tiles.
Fixing the hole in the ceiling was another story. The area inside the ceiling was soaked and soggy, and touching the ceiling caused adjoiningg parts to fall off. It took several trips just to fix the hole.
But it was not this one job, but I fixed hole in walls and ceilings the last 5 years of the 20 years I owned it.
And because it was a 3 family rental, I usually do not know that a pipe in the wall sprang a leak till much later. I recall going to the unit collecting rents, and hear running water every month for several months even while tenants were all at work. It later turned out the main pipe running into the building had a leak, and it was evident when the cement on the garage floor appear wet. The pipe was replaced.
Right before I sold the building, I asked my plumber about all of these problems, and he tells me that it usually appears in 50 to 70 year old buildings with the original plumbing. I priced replacing all the pipes to the three bathrooms, and the job was 20K, but because it involves chopping up tiles, removing bathtubs etc, I should replace the 3 bathrooms at 5K each - making the total coming out to about 40K. Meanwhile, I still got the plumbing to do for the 3 kitchens.
One building that I have from the 50’s needs a new 100 AMP service entrance replacing the current 60 amp one. I just replaced the service entrance of another 3 family at a cost of $2,700.
The problems with this later building was in 1957, air conditioning was not common. Now my tenants has an AC in each BR of the 2 BR units, plus the living room. The circuit breaker would trip when they have two AC’s on, and they put on the micro wave, also not in existance in 1957.
The new service entrance of the building now has “two phase electric”, doubling the capacity of the original. So all the “single phase” electric meters, the main panels all had to be replaced.
Another upcoming job is running replacing the lines from the main panel to the apartment units, at a cost of another several thousand.
You asked about houses from the 40’s and 50’s. I own and operate a few of them.
As to oil heat, the 1941 had oil steam heat. The problem is not with the oil, the problem is the steam heat requires weekly maintenance during the heating season.
Another SFH I rent out also has oil heat with an underground tank. Two problems here.
1- Tenants in financial diificulty sometimes wait for the tank to run almost empty before refilling. This causes gunk to jam up the furance, and it takes more than one service call to correct. Because refilling an almost empty tank causes gunk to float to the surface, clogging it even after its cleaned.
2- The oil is stores in a UST and fifty year old underground storage tanks (UST) may rust and leak. The EPA has gotten after larger industrial UST’s and may someday come after homeowners. You would not have a problem with a free standing oil tank in the basement.