New house planned: What's the best plumbing designs in the world?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by dereks, Sep 5, 2007.

  1. dereks

    dereks New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Location:
    Seattle WA
    I have a tiny and dumpy house that is ripe for teardown. I'd like to build a house that will last 150 years. I'm all thumbs so I'd like something bulletproof that will last without any repair. What should I do about plumbing? Here are some of my ideas, please improve on them.

    1. Use copper water lines. Most longevity? Anyone install grade L copper plumbing inside?

    2. Should I use 1 1/2 inch in baths instead of 1 1/4?

    3. Place hatches (?) on the walls with plumbing so you can access it without knocking a hole in the wall?

    4. Limit plumbing to a small area of the house so pipes aren't everywhere?

    5. Water heater ideas? Hot water recirculation pump? (We have one at work).

    6. Place floor drain in the basement?
  2. cwhyu2

    cwhyu2 Consultant

    Messages:
    1,347
    Location:
    Cincinnati OH
    yes to all,but check your local codes.
    I dont see where a return is nesecary on the w/h.
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2007
  3. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    Yes to all, esp. 3 and 4 (although they used to keep me in plaster work, coming after the plumbers). To no5: indirect off a mod-con boiler for the suggestion, dunno never had one to the recirculator.
  4. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,358
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    I have a recirculation pump on my hot water and I like it. Virtually instant hot water. A pump would be especially nice if you have a long run from the water heater to fixtures.
  5. BAPlumber

    BAPlumber Plumber

    Messages:
    227
    Location:
    Vashon, Washington
    with more info, like location, answers will be more relevant.
  6. dereks

    dereks New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Location:
    Seattle WA
    Keep those answers coming!

    Keep those answers coming!

    Not well water, but city water. I think the pH is not acidic.

    I'm an idiot. I don't understand "To no5: indirect off a mod-con boiler for the suggestion"

    Should the drains be as big as possible to they are harder to get stuck? What are the common sizes?

    As far as more information, I can build anything. There is no limit except the lot size (and zoning). Behind the tiny house is room for a 2,500 sq. ft. house, 5,000 if one builds 2 stories.
  7. floor drain here there and everywhere

    in the basement, place the washer on a platform, and the HW heater on another one. Built with sides so that they hold a lot of water, as much as old fashioned laundry tubs, they work well. They need drains too. It makes sense to assume that your "appliances" will spew out a lot of water every ten years. So, arrange for drainage. A floor drain is good, too. The more drain holes and traps the better. Know what trap primers are and get those installed. I know plumbers who don't install them even though they are code required. Mkae sure the hoses that supply water to the washer are inside the area of the platform. It is safe to assume that these hoses will leak.

    I have floor drains in my bathrooms. Each floor is pretty much one plane sloped in one direction so it doesn't look like a shower floor, and the drain is hidden out of view in one way or another. The door sill is extra high. The bathroom is like a boat, made to hold water. I used square nickel plated shower type floor drains, so when people see them under a shelf or step they look "better" than the $10 kind of floor drain. That was overkill. It should be easy to arrange for most of the plumbing to be inside the floor drain drip envelope too, if you put the pipes in the ceiling and have them come down wall areas that are actually flat rectangules extending into the room, above the floor. It is reasonable to assume that the pipes behind the shower head will need access at some time, and there is often leakage behind shower heads and shower mixer valves, so putting the floor under them is smart.

    Floor drains are practical too, when you want to clean. Just push pure water over to that drain, and you have gotten rid of 99% of the dust. Bathrooms built this way are called wet rooms in the UK. In Japan too.

    About pipes: I would use Pex-Al-Pex almost everywhere. It is both a metal and Pex.


    David
  8. toolaholic

    toolaholic General Contractor Carpenter

    Messages:
    874
    Location:
    Marin Co. Ca.
    It's The Newest Tech. Most Won't Know On This Board

    It's called pipelees plumbing by WEEZBOW ! It's sad to say the Europeans
    beat us again!
  9. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,811
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    plumbing

    1. Use copper water lines. Most longevity? Anyone install grade L copper plumbing inside?

    For 150 years you might want to use it.

    2. Should I use 1 1/2 inch in baths instead of 1 1/4?

    I seldom use 1 1/2'" and have NEVER used 1 1/4"

    3. Place hatches (?) on the walls with plumbing so you can access it without knocking a hole in the wall?

    No matter where you put them, or how many you install, you can be assured that any problem you have will not likely to be near one. The only way to be sure of having access is to do like the U.S. Steel homes in the 60's and screw 4'x8' panels onto the studs for the walls.

    4. Limit plumbing to a small area of the house so pipes aren't everywhere?

    Ideally.

    5. Water heater ideas? Hot water recirculation pump? (We have one at work).

    If you do #4, the hot water lines will be short enough that you won't need a recirculator.

    6. Place floor drain in the basement?

    How else are you going to get rid of water on the floor when the 150 year old washing machine starts to leak.

    As for 150 years, don't sweat it. If this is a small house like you indicate, it will be sold, demo'ed and rebuilt, or remodeled, maybe several times, long before 150 years have passed.
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2007
  10. GrumpyPlumber

    GrumpyPlumber Licensed Grump

    Messages:
    1,404
    Location:
    Licensed Grump

    LOL...I think you meant to say "Wirsbo".

    Frenchie...dammit ya beat me to it!
    As I read his list I was thinking #3 & 4 were excellent idea's for accessibility and replacement in the future.

    Derek, I could really go on with great idea's, but great idea's can be costly.
    Rather than getting into idea's that might not be affordable, give us a price range that you can afford, I'm guessing your "tiny" house is a one bath.
  11. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    General comments:

    There is such a thing as overkill. For example, the access hatches you mention. Most piping , of quality material and installation, will not need to be accessed in the life of the building, or certainly not before MAJOR remodels are done. Now, a shower valve normally would last the life of the shower, but if you do a tile or marble job that you might like to last 40 years, you may need to replace that valve before then, so an access would be nice.

    At least as important as the elaborate design is the selection of quality materials, brands that we have heard of and are likely to still be around, and most inportant, selection of a quality contractor and subs.

    Copper is a 50 to 100 year proposition, SOMETIMES. Local water quality, building electrical system defects, etc. etc. can change that picture. There are places in the country where copper is simply not a good choice. Local contractors should be able to advise you on that.

    Cast iron drains are a 40 to 100 year propostion, but so is well-installed ABS or PVC.

    Regareding the recirc: a gravity system actuall works great, if the building design will allow it. MOST IMPORTANT on any recirc: INSULATION. You see, the devil is in the details.

    So you see, there is not any one right answer. It's your money, so you can do anything you like. But I would recommend doing lots of research ( your post here is a good start ) and make sure that you get the most bang for the buck in the materials and designs you finally select.

    I suspect you will get lots more responses here, and please feel free to come back with any specific questions on topics we do not cover in our responses.
  12. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    Sorry, my bad. I was trying to be brief, and wasn't clear. I saw #5 as two questions:

    - suggestions for types of water heater

    - should you get a recirculations system.

    So, my suggestion for the type of water heater, is to use an indirect-fired storage tank, and to heat it with a modulating-condensing boiler.
  13. dereks

    dereks New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Location:
    Seattle WA
    Keep those ideas coming! Thank you.

    To clarify after reading some of the responses. The current, dumpy, small house is going to be torn down. It's in bad shape, very old, very small (1 BR, 1 BA). As far as the new 150 year lifespan house, I'd like to consider what to do if "cost is no object" then economize from there.

    For example, I'd like to consider copper first and PEX only as a cheaper choice, not PEX first.

    Thanks for your ideas. My conclusions so far,
    Copper
    2 inch pipes
    limit plumbing to a small area of the house
    (no recirculation pump)
    washer and hot water heater on a platform with sides, drains
    access panels behind certain walls (like shower, maybe along stairwell if the pipes go up in the wall along a staircase)
    floor drains in bath
    cast iron drain (maybe PVC, not ABS)
  14. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,129
    Location:
    New England
    Pex is not necessarily a lower performance choice...it lends itself to a more flexible layout with manifolds and homeruns that while could be done in copper, would just be cost prohibitive.

    I'd look into panelized construction or possible ICF (insulated concrete forms) for the construction. Also, check out Visionwall Technology for windows...they have some that are exceptionally efficient.
  15. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,811
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    house

    FD in baths, or anywhere = trap primers to maintain their seal.
    Cast iron is a durable material, BUT will develop stagtites and stagmites on the inside after many years of service.
    ABS or PVC will usually be a local decision depending on which is carried by the supply houses. Here you could not find a PVC drain fitting if your life depended on it, much less enough material to do a house.
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