Fire your Midnight Plumber

Fire your Midnight Plumber

“Great! NOW you tell me.” you say. Sorry, but as many things in life, I had to live it to give it. Someone stealing copper from your revitalization project’s worksite is a very common and real possibility. I don’t care if you’ve been in the business for years, eventually the midnight plumber will find you and carry away your house’s fixtures like the Grinch who stole Christmas (did you notice how I got a timely seasonal reference in here), but in all seriousness, the cost to replace it will then have to be subtracted from your bottom line, and that isn’t funny. I can tell ya from standing in a project in Pittsburgh that the feeling of being robbed is the same as if it were your personal residence. The pain is once you start calculating the labor and material cost of putting in PEX plumbing (Cross-Linked Polyethylene) or even more costly, new copper. As you can see, the replacement cost as of this writing can be fairly extensive when you begin adding up run lengths of varying widths it really starts to unveil the reason why you need to come up with some deterrents from that point forward and look at the cost as tuition to the epiphany.

Often an investor in your typical investment property will simply remove all of the copper and replace it with PEX and adjust for the cost into the purchase price with other known anomalies such as roof or furnace. It’s not necessarily the right move for every situation, so use your own judgment based on the market.

PEX Tech:

The abbreviation stands for Cross-Linked Polyethylene. PEX is a material made up of molecules of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) that are permanently linked to each other by a process called crosslinking. Crosslinking makes PEX a “thermoset” polymer, which gives it long-term stability. PEX pipe produced by any of the three methods must meet the same qualification requirements.

PEX piping meets all requirements for pressure and temperature performance in residential applications. Consensus standards published by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International specify temperature and pressure-resistant capabilities of PEX pipe and all tubing used in residential applications bears the appropriate test marking.

ASTM F 876: Standard Specification for Cross-Linked Polyethylene (PEX) Tubing covers PEX piping that is outside diameter controlled, and pressure rated for water at three temperatures—160 psi @ 73.4ºF, 100 psi @ 180ºF, and 80 psi @ 200ºF.

ASTM F 877: Standard Specification for Cross-Linked Polyethylene (PEX) Plastic Hot-and Cold-Water Distribution Systems covers requirements and test methods for PEX hot- and cold-water distribution system components made in one standard dimension ratio, and intended for 100 psi water service, up to and including a maximum working temperature of 180ºF. Components

are comprised of piping and fittings.

Resistance to Freezing:

PEX pipes are less susceptible to the effects of cold temperatures retaining their flexibility even below freezing. This flexibility means that if water-filled PEX piping freezes, the elasticity of the

material allows it to expand without cracking or splitting, and then to return to its original size upon thawing. This applies when PEX pipes have room to expand evenly along their length, as is typical when installed within walls or ceilings. PEX pipes inside a slab may not be able to expand evenly.

Chlorine Resistance:

To come to the point quickly in regards to chlorine – PEX pipe has shown itself to be resistant to attack from chlorine and chloramines under a wide range of conditions and has performed reliably in all regions of North America.

Now, where were we? Oh yes “Firing your midnight plumber”

Typically these robbers aren’t the brightest so what we are going to try is to deter them just enough so they move on down the road… Inexpensively!

  • Remove the copper and go sell it yourself. Just don’t make an insurance claim of theft as that will send you to jail.

  • I heard this from an investor just the other night – Paint the pipes blue and/or yellow so that it doesn’t “look” like copper… Seriously, these guys aren’t SAT whiz kids.

  • Buy a few feet of PEX tubing and scatter it in a few key areas such as the front and back door entries, the porch, or along the walkway leading to the house.

  • Post signs in the window(s) declaring it a PEX home and add some snippets of piping.

  • Some tiny LED’s that light periodically with a timer. These can be found online or at electronic stores in varying designs. This, at night will give the illusion that you have cameras recording activity within the property leading one to believe that there are further security measures in place.

  • Leave the light on? Did someone say that? Yes, that’s also effective. However, when they took the pipes from THAT site, they simply unplugged the lights and shut the doors to the bedrooms upstairs which gave them plenty of light to work, but was invisible to the outside World. Ok, those guys showed aptitude.

Well there are a few methods that may help you fire your midnight plumber. Remember, if they truly want your copper, they will find a way even to cut the neighbor in on it to keep them quiet. But, with some thought and creativity, you can at least say that you tried.

Mr. Midnight Plumber – YOUR FIRED!

Rick Corbin
RLC Real Estate Properties,  LLC
Cranberry Township,  PA 16066

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