Combining sink and toilet's water pipes?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by ling13323, Oct 6, 2007.

  1. ling13323

    ling13323 New Member

    Oct 6, 2007
    I'm a complete newbie at all this, so please bear with me. I don't know any technical terms whatsoever.

    I live in a 1920s condo building where there's been a regulation to replace all tankless flushometer toilets with ones with tanks. This is because there've been a few occasions where the water's been shut off for whatever reason, and when it's turned back on, some tankless toilets have just kept running. And if the occupant's out of town... well, we've had some massive water bills.

    I've done the research to find a toilet that fits my space requirements, already no easy task (pretty settled on the Toto Guinevere, if anyone's curious). Now there's the issue of how to do the plumbing. Two plumbers are suggesting two different ways, and I have no idea if they're equal.

    The tricky thing is that the water input pipe for the current toilet is too high for a tank, so it will prevent the tank from being aligned parallel to the wall. My next door neighbor has the tank askew, and it looks tacky.

    Option A) Move the pipe input lower. I think this is more expensive, and involves redoing the tile on the wall: breaking in the new hole and fixing up the old one. Sounds scary to me. Plus I don't know how they'd get into the wall. The access panel through my bedroom closet only seems to get to behind the shower, not to the sink or toilet.

    Option B) One other unit in the building's plumber has rerouted the toilet water input so that it draws from the same pipe as the sink, which is just next to it. The new pipe would go through the side of the under-sink cabinet. The current hole in the wall would be somehow sealed off and the hidden by the tank. To someone with no plumbing experience, this sounds fine, and it's already been done and hasn't been problematic, AFAIK. But is it a cop-out? Is A the right way to do it, and is there something else I need to think about it I connect the two?

    Also, the Guinevere is not an insulated tank, and I'm worried about sweating. I've read on the forums about mixer valves, and it seems like it would work well with Option B, since there's hot water to the sink already. Would a mixer valve also work with Option A? More trouble than it's worth? "Depends"? :p

    So. To summarize:
    - Option A or B, pros and cons, general thoughts?
    - Mixer valve compatibility?

    Thanks so much! This forum has been a great resource already.
  2. TMB9862

    TMB9862 New Member

    Nov 12, 2006
    For option A you would cut the Sheetrock in your bedroom to access the pipes. This way you can get away without damaging the tiles. I like this idea the best.

    For option B you have to check local codes. Here you have to have at least 3/4 to your last fixture which means you can not tee off half inch for a toilet. It's also going to look pretty tacky having the copper line running out of your vanity and along the wall. It will work fine however. Sealing the current hole can just be done with silicone if it's going to be hidden. I don't know how you would cut the old line out and cap it though.

    I've never even heard of an insulated toilet, some of the toilets in my house date back to the 20s and I don't think I've ever had a problem with sweating causing any kind of damage to the walls or floors.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 7, 2007
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  4. patrick88

    patrick88 Plumber

    Sep 3, 2007
    Webster Ma.
    The mixing valve need to be installed in a place that will not be covered over. You can use an access panel. I have a mixing valve on my toilet and it works great. My floor rotted out from the toilet sweating. I had to replace the floor under the toilet soon after moving into my house. I would open the wall in your bed room and reroute the pipes as needed. I would place the toilet mixer inside the panel behind shower so you can have access to it. You need to be able to get to the mixer because during the colder less humid months you don't need to mix the water. Theses like any other valve will leek at some point so you want to be able to get to it
  5. ling13323

    ling13323 New Member

    Oct 6, 2007
    Yeah, after typing all that out and having it clear in my head, it did start making more sense to just do the job right, rather than a stop-gap. Time to check the savings account...
  6. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Sep 2, 2004
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    New England
    A diamond bit or maybe even a carbide bit will cut a nice hole in the tiled wall (if the tile is really from the 1920's, then a carbide bit probably will work). Note that the tile is probably on a floated mud wall and there is metal lath in there, which is a pain to cut through without snagging it and pulling off a bunch of tile with it. Just go slow, with the right tool, and it should go right through.

    In a large building, the water often has a chance to warm up a fair amount before it gets to your toilet, so it may not be cold enough to cause the toilet to sweat. You could try it without the tempering valve first, then add one if needed. If the unit has central air, then that may minimize it as well. Where it is the biggest problem is if the toilet is used repeatedly over a short time, and the humidity is high...this keeps replacing the water in the tank with cold, and eventually, it cools off enough to condense on the outside from all of the humidity. For a toilet that only gets flushed occassionally, it usually doesn't get cold enough to be a problem for condensation, or if it does, it doesn't last long as the water in the tank warms up above the condensation point.
  7. ling13323

    ling13323 New Member

    Oct 6, 2007
    Well, the latest update from a plumber who's done about 12 other units in the building is that this old building has brass rises, not copper. They go to the apartments above and below me, so they can't cut through that. He said they've been fitting a 1/2" chrome pipe through the vanity, so it may not look that bad, and the space is small anyway. He also said that going through the bedroom wall would increase the working time from 4-5 hours to 1-2 days!

    Apparently the Toto they're recommending has a 10" rough-in and only a 26" depth. I'm not sure which one that is, and he couldn't remember off the top of his head. It's not a Unifit because I brought up the Guinevere I'd been looking at, and he said that it would involve at least another hour to get the adapter bolted down because they'd have to drill into the floor tile. The other thing is that the Guinevere I have my eye on has a depth of 28 1/4". Although it would fit in the space, maybe that's a bit tight. The door swing allows 29", but the door frame is at about 26" (current flushometer toilet only 23 1/2!)

    I realized after he left I forgot to ask about the mixer valve! Oh well, next time he comes around. I also didn't think it was something that could be easily added later, so that helps.

    I am predisposed to liking this plumber because he recommended a Toto as the toilet of choice over any other brand. But does what he's saying makes sense?
  8. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Aug 31, 2004
    Cave Creek, Arizona

    What is often done, since the toilet is next to the sink cabinet is to connect to the sink's cold water pipe, (there is no problem with volume loss regardless of what the code says), run a copper line to the side of the cabinet and install a fixture shutoff valve on the outside of the cabinet. Then connect from the valve to the toilet with a long stainless steel braided connection. It should not take 3 or 4 hours, more in the neighborhood of 1 hour or so, once the water is shut off to the bathroom and drained.
  9. ling13323

    ling13323 New Member

    Oct 6, 2007
    hj, yes, that's exactly what he was suggesting, putting a T valve on the cold water under the sink, with a shutoff valve outside the cabinet. Good to know it's not uncommon. Would it be much more work to add a mixer valve under the sink then and tap into the hot water as well? That would certainly be easily accessible.
  10. geniescience

    geniescience Homeowner

    Nov 27, 2005
    humid summers hot, humid winters cold
    you can add valves now or later, for less than $10 a valve. You could turn on the valve from the Hot pipe in the spring, and turn off the Cold valve, so you would get both a little room warming from having a warm tank, and a guarantee of having no sweating dripping off the tank. All warm objects radiate warmth and create a warm feeling, and all cold objects radiate cold and create a cold feeling.

    But, leaving two valves open allows Hot and Cold to pull water through the opposite pipe, the "wrong" one.

    -how far away the hot water heater is, you haven't said so far. The farther away it is, the more likely you are to get room temperature water in the tank, which is a good thing.
    -how much the cold water warms up before it gets to your tap, when it has been sitting still in the pipes for a while. is another factor.
    -how much a problem dripping water is from tanks, at various seasons, is another consideration.

    if the problem is intermittent, and not a summertime problem, then you can make do with manual adjustment to get a warmer dryer tank during humid weather.

    i'm in a big condo building too, and I wouldn't want to have warm water in my tank during the summer.

  11. TMB9862

    TMB9862 New Member

    Nov 12, 2006
    I don't know why we have that 3/4 to the last fixture code. Probably because too many bozos were running the whole house in half inch.

    That job shouldn't take as long as he is saying. I'd guess about an hour, maybe two if draining the place down is a major operation. Going through the wall in your bedroom would probably make it a three or maybe a four hour job. The plumber isn't going to be patching the wall, I have no idea what could take so long. If he is going to milk a whole day or someone two days out of that job find yourself a new plumber.
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