Building or remodeling your home can be both exciting and daunting. No matter your skill level in home repair, from novice to expert, there are many factors to consider. To begin with, you will need a vision: a plan you intend to follow that will help keep you on course. Secondly, you will need to figure out your budget. And, perhaps most importantly, you need to really figure out your capabilities and limitations. While some home repairs can be an enjoyable exercise in DIY, we recommend consulting an expert plumbing company to ensure your plans are carried out effectively. Plumbing factors prominently into any renovation, and you will want to be thoroughly prepared.
Your Plumbing System’s Layout
In order to tackle a major plumbing overhaul or addition, you need to understand the basic layout of your home plumbing system. There are two main types of plumbing systems that service your home: the water supply, and the drainage system. The water supply plumbing works under pressure and brings hot and cold water from your local municipal supply into your home. It services your sinks, tubs, showers, and toilets. Drain plumbing uses gravity to remove waste waters from your home and drains into sewer lines or septic tanks. The plumbing in your home is basically a system of distribution and removal, working both dependently and separately, with pipes that are comprised of, and attached to, fittings, faucets and service valves.
Determining Pipe Size and Material
Every pipe in your plumbing system serves a specific purpose, and each pipe is composed of a particular material, based on its function, and needs to be of a certain size. In general, pipes made of white plastic or galvanized iron serve water lines. Black iron pipes tend to serve gas lines, while copper pipes can be used for either water or gas. Black plastic or cast iron pipes serve primarily for drains and vents.
In order to figure out what type of pipe you need and its necessary size for your particular remodeling job, you will need to calculate the fixture unit for each new appliance or fixture. A fixture unit is a measurement that calculates the cubic feet of water used per minute. With that sorted, you can estimate the length of pipe you may need. Typically, the main pipeline from the street to your home is ¾ to 1 inch in diameter, supply branches pipes are a ¾ inch, and pipes for individual components are ½ inch. Note that for each foot your pipes extend above the water supply, water pressure decreases by a half pound per square inch. For every step of your project, always make sure you are in compliance with local building codes and that your water pressure can handle the new layout you intend to install.
The soil stack, the main pipe in most residential homes, connects interior plumbing works with exterior septic system and vents. Waste water flows from the toilet, bath tub, or sink into a branch drain that is connected to the main soil stack. Once the water reaches the vertical soil stack, it flows down the stack to empty out into the septic tank or sewer, while the sewer gases flow up the pipe to a vent above the home, dissipating into the atmosphere. This allows for an equalization of pressure, as it is the work of gravity that allows this system to function. In the case of remodeling, your best bet for adding plumbing fixtures in your home will be to connect to this soil stack, or via a connecting drain branch, above or below an existing fixture.
The Basics Aren’t Always So Basic
So you understand the plumbing layout of your home, or what you plan to create if you are starting from scratch. You have a plan in place and know which pipes to use where, and how they will all be connected. That’s great, but you may still want to consider hiring a plumber to check things over. With the help of plumbing professionals, you can ensure that your plan is followed to a tee, while also making certain that you are in compliance with building and plumbing codes. Yes, it costs money to hire professionals, the right vendor will make sure you are not spending money where it is not necessary. Ideally, your home’s plumbing system should be efficiently designed to deliver water to various faucets, appliances, and fixtures, while removing waste and gases safely. The right contractor will work hard to make sure that the plumbing system you had in mind comes to fruition, and that you get the best available quality.