Plumbing pictures

As promised, here are some pictures of recent work. Today I’m going to focus on plumbing. This week the place is getting the drywall installed, taped, and textured; we’ll have more pictures for that soon!

So, without further ado, here are the pictures.

I modified the plumbing to allow for a solar water heater ahead of the gas-powered tankless water heaters. The braided steel supply line is a bypass. We can install the solar unit at a later date without changing the existing plumbing.

Water supply to addition

Here are the hot and cold copper supply lines to the bathroom, and the new black steel gas line for the new hot water heater and dryer.

Our current water heater is a wall-mounted tankless gas unit. It is capable of supplying all the hot water needs of a one-bathroom house. It would not supply enough hot water for two showers, though, so we decided to install a second dedicated tankless water heater for the addition. We could have replaced our current unit with a bigger one, but installing a second unit was a) cheaper and b) provided redundancy in case one unit fails. The new unit will be installed on the wall right in front of you in the picture above.

Water and gas supply entering addition

Here is what the supply lines look like from the inside as they enter the addition. The fluffy white stuff is expanding foam insulation to seal against critters and inclement weather. It also does a good job of stabilizing the pipes. You can see the metal strike plates to prevent errant screws or nails from penetrating the pipe. The long metal vertical strip is a “catch” for the drywall, eliminating the need for a third stud in the corner.

Lavatory plumbing and manifolds

The main supply lines run under the (future) cabinets to copper manifolds. Half-inch flexible Pex tubing runs from the manifolds to each hot and cold tap. The Pex is color-coded, red for hot and blue for cold. The large black pipe is the drain and vent for the two lavatory sinks that will be installed on this wall.

One of the things I learned about plumbing is that there are very precise rules about the size, shape, and location of holes and notches in studs. I learned those rules, and then managed to break them anyway. See, you can’t bore a hole in a 2×4 bearing stud to accommodate a lavatory vent pipe. The hole is just too big. Well, sometimes you can bore a hole that big, but the stud has to be doubled and you can’t bore more than two successive studs that way. I read the code and then promptly bored seven consecutive single studs for my lavatory vent. Then I proceeded to have a heart attack when I re-read the code later and realized my folly.

I immediately consulted the great Oracle for help and was promptly berated as a reckless idiot by certain participants of almost every home improvement discussion board there is. I also found some decidedly kludgy solutions, like sistering 2×6 studs to the 2x4s. After giving some time for my self-esteem to recover and crawl its way out of the Pit of Despair, I got smart.

The holes I bored are just fine for a non-load-bearing wall. So the solution was pretty simple, actually: make the bored studs non-load-bearing! So I retrofitted a couple of headers above the horizontal vent, doubling the studs in between (the second header is in the shower to the right of this picture). The roof load is transferred around the problem in a code-approved manner. Problem solved, and the work passed inspection without a second glance.

Shower controls

Here are the shower controls and associated plumbing. We spent way too much money on shower controls. But they are German and consequently over-engineered, and so I deemed them suitable for this building. The top control is for volume and temperature, while the bottom control is a diverter valve. It diverts mixed water to either a hand shower or an overhead “rain” shower. The latter is a requirement from Wifey.

Laundry piping

Here is the plumbing for the laundry center. The left-hand big black pipe is the washer drain to the sewer; the right-hand pipe drains to the landscape. The gas supply for the dryer is on the top right; normally the valve is mounted lower, but I wanted to be able to reach the shutoff over the top of the dryer as there isn’t room to reach around the sides.

Greywater distribution

Speaking of greywater, here is where all that laundry, shower, and teethbrushing water will go. This is a “branched drain” distribution network; the flow is split numerous times with “tees” and each branch terminates in an irrigation control box. These boxes are placed in the root zones of a fig tree, a pummelo tree, and a clementine tree.


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