Plumbing: supply side

solderingSMWe’re done with the supply-side plumbing in the cottage, por fin. It actually didn’t take that long (unlike most everything else on this house) and I got to use some rusty skills that I paid dearly for in grad school. In this case, soldering. It sounds stupid, but I was a little nervous about the idea of soldering copper pipes together. Turns out, it’s much easier than silver soldering jewelry… and I can do that all day. Here we see the shower riser. It has a fancy valve body, some copper pipe, and a drop elbow. I also had to solder on some brass expander fittings. On the workbench, you can see the torch, solder, flux, and a bunch of copper valves and knicknacks. Plumbing is fun! It’s like Lego for grownups.

manifoldSMBesides the various copper and brass assemblies at the faucets and hose bibbs, there is also some plastic involved. In this case, we’re talking about crosslinked polyethylene (PEX). It’s a miracle product that they’ve been using in Europe for a long time, but only showed up in the US in the late 90s. Some of the benefits: easy to work, doesn’t corrode, won’t burst if it freezes, very cost effective.  It also involves designing your plumbing layout differently. Instead of a trunk-and-branch system, like a tree, you use a homerun layout. In English, this means that you have a main central manifold (pipe), and there are lines from there directly to every fixture in the house. This takes advantage of the fact that you can bend PEX around corners and pull it like wire, meaning that there are NO JOINTS anywhere except the start and end… no possibility of leaks! Also, you get less friction loss in the pipes, and you get hot water faster at the tap. Back at the manifold, you have a separate shutoff valve for each fixture, making it a little like an electrical panel with circuit breakers. One disadvantage is that is uses a bit more material, but PEX is so much cheaper than copper that it’s a nonissue. Here we see the manifold (it’s copper) with many of the runouts already in place.

With waste and supply plumbing done, all that remains for plumbing is the propane system. I’m going to pay a plumber to do that part- I could probably figure it out, but why take the chance on getting blown up? Hah! Also, I’m getting tired of the crawlspace. It’s someone else’s turn.

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