Ideas for tricky water heater line routing: crawlspace to slab transition

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by temp945, Mar 5, 2021.

  1. temp945

    temp945 Member

    Joined:
    May 2, 2016
    Location:
    Florida
    Hi all,

    I recently swapped out all the old 1960s galvanized steel piping in my crawlspace and replaced with Uponor PEX.

    Unfortunately, there is a small bit of galvanized remaining that runs from the crawlspace wall into the utility room where the water heater is located. The utility room is on a concrete slab, and the original galvanized steel supply and hot lines are run *underneath* this slab - the lines do not appear to be encased in the concrete.

    I'd like to replace this last bit of galvanized for two reasons. First, because it is galvanized and needs to be replaced at some point. Second, the hot line is 1/2" and this limits flow to my new (only) shower with two showerheads (5 gal/min combined).

    I'm looking for ideas on how to replace this last bit of galvanized. My guess is that the most obvious solution is to tear up the concrete in the utility room, but I'd very much prefer to not do that.

    Another solution might be to drill two holes into the floor joist at the slab/crawlspace transition. I have attached a photo of what this looks like. As you can see, there is about 10" between the concrete floor in the utility and the door threshold/floor of the home; this is where the 2x10 floor framing is, and is directly above where the current water lines (under the concrete) enter the utility room from the crawlspace. If I drilled two holes from the crawlspace into the utility room here, I could route the new lines inside the utility room, along the wall, to the water heater.

    The only problem I see with that solution is that the crawlspace ends at the same point as the door (there is an exterior wall in the utility room that extends past the home's foundation/crawlspace). In other words, I would have to drill the access holes into the utility room directly below the door to the utility room, and this would obviously create an access problem. I could cover up the new lines with a step or protective box or something, but this still seems like a less than perfect solution.

    Any other ideas? Should I consider running the lines outside of the house (below ground or possibly even above ground) and entering the utility room from the exterior wall?

    Thanks for reading!!!
     

    Attached Files:

  2. wwhitney

    wwhitney Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2019
    Location:
    Berkeley, CA
    Can you drill at the crawl space corner at a 45 degree angle and come out on the water heater side of the doorway? That would work if you don't mind exposed piping in the utility room.

    Or, what is the wall construction on the water heater side of the doorway? If it's wood frame, you could remove some drywall there and run your new lines in the wall. But if it's concrete block, that would be harder. Drywall is easier to patch than a concrete slab.

    Cheers, Wayne
     
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  4. temp945

    temp945 Member

    Joined:
    May 2, 2016
    Location:
    Florida
    Hi Wayne,

    Thanks for your ideas.

    The 45-degree angle idea could work. I'm still a bit concerned about having exposed piping in the utility room. Aesthetics is one issue. But I'd also want to ensure that the PEX could not be damaged by being hit with something or by UV light. So far I'm at a loss of how to protect the pipe in a way that is aesthetically pleasing and functional.

    The wall construction from above the floor is wood frame. So I could remove some drywall and feed the lines through the wall. I guess the reason that I wasn't thinking about this idea is because it would make the lines inaccessible, but I guess that isn't a big deal for the last few feet of pipe.

    If I went with the in-wall idea, this would involve draining the water heater, moving the heater, opening up drywall, and then patching it all up and repainting. Still not a small job. It seems like it is the right way of finishing this job - or am I fixing something that isn't broken?
     
  5. wwhitney

    wwhitney Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2019
    Location:
    Berkeley, CA
    If you run exposed piping in the laundry, copper would be a more robust choice than PEX. You could stick a couple pieces of copper through the wall at a 45 and adapt to PEX in the crawlspace. Exposed PEX should be covered for UV protection, although I guess that's not a big deal near the water heater, the piping should be insulated anyway.

    Cheers, Wayne
     
  6. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    How about running pipes through the attic?
     
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