The historic heart of Kingman, Arizona is experiencing an exciting renaissance. Eclectic shops, a wine bar, award winning microbreweries and restaurants with sidewalk seating, an innovative self guided narrated walking tour, and events such as Chillin on Beale are transforming the city into a destination for locals, for regional visitors, and for international travelers driving along historic Route 66.
Long negelected buildings, some dating to the territorial era, are being given a new lease on life. The Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation recently purchased the Odd Fellows Hall built in 1911, and the city’s first fire station that dates to 1922. The State Theater built in 1948 is being transformed into the Beale Street performing arts center.
The renaissance is spreading into historic residential districts, some of which date to the late 19th century. But restoring a shine to these tarnished gems can be a challenge, especially when it comes to updating ancient plumbing.
But regardless of age, plumbing is an important part of any home renovation project. Here are just a few of the common plumbing problems encountered in a historic building remodel.
1. Outdated pipes and fixtures. The first step is an inspection of the existing plumbing system and to determine its condition and compatibility with modern standards. Older buildings may have pipes made of galvanized steel, lead, or cast iron, which can corrode, leak, or contaminate the water supply. It is equally important to check the faucets, valves, drains, and other fixtures for signs of wear and tear, rust, or damage. Depending on the age and style of your home, you may want to replace them with new ones that match the original design or even upgrade them to more efficient and durable models.
2. Inadequate water pressure and flow. Another common issue with historic buildings is low water pressure and flow. This can be caused by several factors, such as clogged pipes, faulty valves, undersized supply lines, or insufficient water heater capacity. To fix this problem replacement of the pipes may be needed. And pressure regulators or booster pumps, larger supply lines, and an upgraded water heater may also be needed.
3. Code compliance and permits. Before beginning any plumbing work it is important to understand building codes and regulations, and that necessary permits are acquired. Depending on historic significance of the property or its listing on the National Register of Historic Places, there may be guidelines and restrictions to ensure preservation of historic integrity. For example, you may not be allowed to alter or remove any original plumbing features or materials without approval from a historic preservation board or commission.
4. Finding hidden pipes and leaks. This is a BIG concern. It can be a challenge to locate pipes, and evaulate for leaks without removal of walls or floors. Older buildings were often built by handymen with little formal training or expertise. Some were built before the additionof indoor plumbing. And so pipes can literally be anywhere including the attiics and under floors. Sometimes pipes were hidden during subsequent remodels or with additions. To locate these hidden pipes and leaks, special tools and techniques such as cameras, detectors, sensors, or dye tests are invaluable.
5. Matching the style and aesthetics. Finally, if you want to maintain the charm and beauty of your historic building, it is important to pay attention to the style and aesthetics of any original or period plumbing fixtures and materials. Selecting products that match or complement the original design and architecture of your home, as well as the color scheme and decor of each room will enhance the beauty of a completed remodel. Vintage or antique fixtures that have been restored or refurbished to work with modern plumbing systems are an option to consider.
Plumbing in a historic home can be a daunting task, but it can also be a rewarding one if you plan ahead and do your research. By working with a qualified plumber such as Retro Plumbing Inc. in Kingman, a licensed, bonded, and insured company that specializes in modernizing plumbing systems in older buildings, you can prevent an array of headaches, save a few dollars, and have the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your plumbing system is safe and efficient for years to come.
Written by Jim Hinckley of Jim Hinckley’s America