Pipes and plumbing fixtures are found everywhere in a new house. Pipes run out of the house, under the house, within walls of the house, and finally arrive at many different fixtures, like sinks, toilets and tubs. Some pipes carry water and others carry gas.
Pipes are made different materials, either metal and plastic, and each material has its pros and cons. We’ll talk about the pros and cons of different pipe materials and I’ll tell you what you can request from your plumber to keep your pipes quiet and to eliminate the noise of an upstairs toilet flush that can be heard by you and your guests while you’re sitting downstairs. I’ll also give you a list of some things to consider to help improve the quality of your plumbing job.
Before we get to that, let’s go over this week’s pro term.
PRO TERM: Stack
Stack-- The vertical main vent pipe of the waste system. It extends through one or more stories of the house and exits the house, usually through the roof.
The stack is the largest vertical pipe into which all the horizontal (and smaller vertical) pipes either drain or vent.
A house can have many stacks, in which case you’d have the main stack(s) and auxiliary stack(s). The entire stack system serves two purposes: 1. to transport waste out to the home’s drain and 2. to balance out the pressures in the drain pipe system and to release odors.
Moving on to this week’s mini lesson...
Let’s start by going over a few things to keep in mind for the plumbing of your new house.
1. Make sure all rough framing is complete and correct prior to sending your plumber to the job site to complete the plumbing rough-in. It’s easier, less time consuming, and less expensive to move studs, or make framing adjustments BEFORE the rough-in plumbing has been installed.
2. Before your plumbing contractor comes to the job site, give him the specifications for all your plumbing fixtures and fittings and your house plans which document the layout of your fixtures, cabinets and appliances.
You should also place copies of these documents in a clean, safe place at the job site for all of the tradesmen to reference. You can even tape some of the more important documents up so the trades people can easily view them.
If the documents are easy to access, the workers are more likely to double check the layout and specifications before installing different items and that will decrease the chances of mistakes.
3. Right after the framing rough-in, call a job site meeting with your plumber, framer, HVAC guy and electrician so they can all go over the layout with the plumber before he starts his plumbing rough-in. Ask the trades to make sure that there is enough space for all the pipes, ductwork and wires. This is especially important for homes with open floor plans since there are limited walls for running mechanicals.
This is also an opportunity to ask the plumber and other trades if they will need to cut, drill or notch any of the framing elements. Make sure that the plans for cutting or notching the framing elements are ok with the framer and the code requirements.
4. With spray paint or tape, mark the floor to show the locations of all cabinets before the plumbing rough-in. This will tell the plumber where to run gas and water lines.
5. Make sure that the plumbing vents that extend to the roof get flashed by the roofer, not the plumber. Roofers are experts in preventing leaks in the roof, plumbers are not.
6. Ask your plumber to properly flash the exterior holes that he makes
for the exterior plumbing penetrations. You want to make sure that water and air can’t get through those exterior plumbing penetrations.
You can suggest something like a flashing panel by a company calledQuickflash, or ask your plumber what he recommends.
7. Try to avoid putting water supply lines in exterior walls, especially in cold climates. If pipes in some exterior walls are unavoidable because of the design of the house, talk to your plumber about insulating those pipes. And choose the right material for those exterior wall pipes. We’ll talk about that in a moment.
8. Even if you are not going to have a water softener installed, have the house plumbed for one, especially if you have a slab foundation. This will allow for easier installation of a water softener in the future, either for you or for whomever you eventually sell your house to.
9. Ensure that water pipes are adequately braced and anchored to framing. Properly anchoring plumbing to the walls reduces loose, floppy pipes. Bath tub faucet and shower head lines should also be securely mounted to stud framing so they won't wobble around when the fixture is attached.
10. Once the pipes are installed, ask your plumber to connect the water system to the meter, then fill and pressurize the piping. This way you can find any leaks before the drywall is installed.
You also want to have a conversation with your plumber about what materials he will be using for your home’s plumbing. The materials that your plumber uses can make a big difference in the final quality of your home. There are many types of pipes that are used for new home today, so we won’t cover them all. But we’ll go over the most common pipes used. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.
The 2 main categories of pipes are plastic and metal pipes.
The 2 most commonly used types of plastic pipes used are PVC and PEX. And the 2 most common metals used for pipes are copper and cast iron.
1. PVC or Polyvinyl Chloride
PVC is inexpensive and it won’t rust, corrode, or degrade over time. PVC pipes are very good for your home’s sink, toilet, and bathtub drain lines or vent stacks.
The main drawback of PVC pipes are that they warp when exposed to hot water. In fact, some building codes will not allow PVC for hot water pipes.
There are also Chlorinated PVC Pipes which contain extra chlorine. Unlike, regular PVC pipes, the chlorinated PVC pipes can be used for hot water supply inside the house, but they will split if they freeze.
2. PEX pipes
PEX stands for cross linked polyethylene. PEX pipes are extremely versatile and easy to install. They are flexible and can snake through walls easily. They are very heat resistant so they can be used for hot and cold water supply.
The main limitation of PEX is that it can only be installed indoors. PEX cannot be installed outdoors.
1. Copper Pipes
Most people, including the plumbers that I’ve talked to, think that copper is the premium choice for pipes. Copper is reliable, durable, long lasting and not prone to leaks. And copper won’t pollute your drinking water and it’s heat tolerant.
The main disadvantages of copper pipes are that they expensive and they can burst if they freeze.
Copper pipes come in different thickness, K, L and M. K type tubing is the thickest, M is the thinnest and L is medium in thickness. If you decide to go with copper pipes, It may be tempting to choose the thinner, cheaper type M pipes that most plumber suggest, but consider using type L copper tubing.
The L grade pipes are slightly more expensive but the thicker walls help to decrease vibrations that can lead to noise. Larger pipe diameters also are highly effective at stopping noise.
2. Cast Iron:
Cast iron is used for waste line pipes. They are very durable, but heavy and difficult to cut. Cast iron reduces or eliminates the typical sounds of running water and sewage as they pass through the plumbing system.
One major caution about cast iron pipes: You have to be careful using chemical drain cleaners on cast iron because those drain cleaners can cause the cast iron to deteriorate.
Ok, let’s talk about what we can do to keeping our plumbing from gurgling and making other unpleasant noises. So, I just told you a couple of ways to reduce noise in your plumbing, did you pick up on those?
-use thicker, type L copper pipes
-use pipes with larger diameters, within code of course
-use cast iron for waste line pipes.
One of the best ways to keep your plumbing quiet and to keep your downstairs guests from hearing your upstairs toilet flushes is to invest in Charlotte quiet pipes.
Charlotte Pipe and Foundry is the manufacturer of a quiet plumbing system. The system is called the Quiet House System. This is something that you have to request specifically from your plumber. And it’s an upgrade, so you will pay more for the Charlotte quiet pipes, but not a lot more. You’ll probably pay $200-$300 more per bathroom for this noise-free system.
Here’s what Charlotte Pipe says about the system. “Quiet House is exclusive to Charlotte Pipe and Foundry, the only manufacturer of both cast iron and plastic pipe and fittings. This unique system combines sound-deadening cast iron with economical PVC for a plumbing system that is twice as quiet compared to an all-plastic system, even when the plastic is insulated. It offers a lifetime of quality and quiet for little more than the cost of an all-plastic system. Plus, there's no sloshing, gurgling or gushing noise from behind the walls of your home.”
Here’s How the system works:
The Quiet House System uses cast iron for the stacks, the main waste portion of the plumbing system. PVC is used for the vent lines. By using cast iron for the stacks, the sound of water running behind the walls is eliminated. By combining cast iron and PVC, homeowners get a system that is both quiet and economical.
As a manufacturer of both cast iron and plastic pipe and fittings, Charlotte Pipe has created resources to assist homeowners, engineers, and contractors with choosing the right material for the right application.
Ok, moving on to this week’s quiz. Let’s test and review what we’ve learned today.
1. What do you call the largest vertical pipe into which all the horizontal (and smaller vertical) pipes either drain or vent.
The answer is A, stack. The stack is the vertical main vent pipe of the soil and waste system. It extends through one or more stories of the house and exits the house, usually through the roof. A house can have many stacks, in which case you’d have the main stack(s) and auxiliary stack(s). The entire stack system serves two purposes: 1. to transport waste out to the home’s drain and 2. to balance out the pressures in the drain pipe system and eliminate odors.
2. True or false? Pipes should never be anchored and braced to the home’s framing.
That’s false. You should anchor and brace your pipes to the framing to reduces floppy pipes and to make sure that pipes going to shower heads and faucets are stable and not wobbly.
3. The Quiet House system by Charlotte Pipe and Foundry is a unique system that combines what 2 types of plumbing materials:
A. PVC and PEX
B. PVC and Copper
C. Cast iron and copper
D. Cast iron and PVC
The Answer is D— cast iron and PVC. The Quiet House system combines sound-deadening cast iron with economical PVC for a plumbing system that is twice as quiet compared to an all-plastic system, even when the plastic is insulated. The system cost a few hundred dollar more per bathroom but is totally worth the extra cost for those who want quiet, flush free dinner parties.
Please remember that the purpose of this podcast is simply to educate and inform. It is not a substitute for professional advice. The information that you hear is based the only on the opinions, research and experiences of my guests and myself. That information might be incomplete, it’s subject to change and it may not apply to your project. In addition, building codes and requirements vary from region to region, so always consult a professional about specific recommendations for your home.
Thank you for stopping by this week. I hope you’ll join me next week for another episode of BYHYU.
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