Pipe Dreams

As we progress along in our other projects at the house, there is a huge project that has been staring me down for months.  With each thing that we check off our list, we get closer and closer to needing to install the plumbing.

Lately it seems that the plumbing is all I can think about.  Right now you might be wondering why.  How hard can it be to put in a few pipes?  What is there really to think about?  Well as it turns out, a plumbing system, even in a small house, is quite complex.  In fact there are three separate systems that go into plumbing a house.  And each system is governed by a separate section of the plumbing code.

Standard plumbing system for a house

The first is the water service system.  Most homeowners don’t have to worry about this system, because there is usually a municipal water main that runs down the street in front of their house and service pipes that connect the plumbing in the house at the water meter to the water main out front.  We have a well.  That means that there is no water main for us (though technically one has been added in the last decade, but we aren’t hooked up), only a well and a service pipe that runs from the well to our pressure tank.  As Leigh mentioned in an earlier post, we are having some issues with this service pipe, but we are close to a temporary resolution on that.

The second system is the water distribution system.  This is the system that most of my thoughts lately have been going in to.  The distribution system is the series of pipes that bring cold water from the pressure tank (or water meter) to all the fixtures and the water heater, and the pipes that bring hot water from the heater to all the fixtures.

The reason that I’ve been so obsessed with the water distribution system is that a poorly designed system (especially a undersized system) will not provide enough water at the proper pressures to the fixtures when they’re in use (the old “toilet flushing causing a hot burst in the shower” situation).  So I’ve been working on the calculations to make sure that the system has the proper sized pipes (and oversizing a little, just in case) and that fixture branches are laid out in the best way.

The third plumbing system (and arguably the most important and complex) is the drain-waste-vent system.  The drain and waste pipes (the difference between the two is kind of technical) carry water and waste products from all the fixture drains in the house (sinks, toilets, water softeners, etc.) to the septic tank (or municipal sanitary sewer).  The vent pipes are the pipes that extend above the drain and waste pipes up to the roof and both vent the sewer gases coming out of the pipes and provide enough air to equalize the pressure in the system (it’s not a good idea to create a vacuum in your pipes when you flush the toilet).  This system will be designed along side of the distribution system.

It is my plan to start putting pipes in the walls soon.  Hopefully then I can start thinking about something other than plumbing.  I guess having running water would be a nice thing, too.


Posted on July 18, 2011, in House, Renovation and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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