Here in Colorado, plumbers have their hands full when they work for you while you are building your dream home. It’s not enough that they have to install the pressure water piping, the waste water piping, the gas lines, and then use every diplomatic skill that they possess to satisfy your demands for expensive high end plumbing fixtures that don’t cost much, look and work perfectly when installed – and most importantly, satisfy the good lady of the house. Add into the mix that they may have several houses that they are working on and that just about every trade that they have to work with thinks that they are in the way or that the plumbers are holding them up. With all that they have to do, it’s a wonder that in this part of the country, plumbers are also usually responsible for installing your heating system. With the immense pressure that plumbers are under, I wonder how Post Office employee’s have captured the phrase, “Going Postal”, when its plumbers that should go crazy and “Go Plumbing!”.
With all that plumbers have to do, we understand that there is probably no way that they can take the time to make the following suggestions about the pressure piping water systems in houses. This information will save you money and reduce your frustration for years to come – with very little additional up-front cost.
BOTTLED WATER FROM A WATER PIPE: At the very least, you must insist that your plumber install a plastic water line from your mechanical room to where ever you want drinking water. You can’t believe the calls that we get after a beautiful home is built and someone doesn’t like the taste of the water. Chances are if you are spending several hundred thousand dollars – plus – on a new home, you probably aren’t a ‘spring chicken’. Lifting heavy bottles of water and toting them in from the garage wasn’t in your vision of retirement. At the very least, install a dedicated bottled water line to your kitchen sink.
The water treatment industry also makes small Reverse Osmosis units that do fit under the kitchen sink. These units take up quite a bit of space under the kitchen sink, and are harder to maintain. When the filters are changed in them, it is almost impossible to keep from spilling water. Why not place the Reverse Osmosis unit on a shelf in the mechanical room where is it fully maintainable and spilling some water is not an issue, and then run a small water line from the mechanical room to the kitchen or wherever you want pure water in the house. You can also purchase a larger R/O unit and good size pressure tank and separately plumb the cold-water faucets though out the house.
RUB A DUB-DUB: In your dream home you should be presented with the choice of some fantastic tubs and shower systems. One of the things to consider is how much water does that cool new waterfall tub take to make the waterfall work properly? How much patience does your lady have to wait for 150 to 250 gallons of water to fill that wonderful tub? How many showerheads are you going to put in the bathroom, and what size are they? (Back in the good old days, one shower head could cover the skin area quite nicely, but now, some times we have skin acreage! thus more shower heads.)
We always ask the above questions to make sure that our pumping systems create the necessary volume and pressure. But the plumber has to hold up his end of the volume and pressure by installing the right sized pipes. A plumber may tell you that his piping may be 1” in diameter, but a plumbers 1” pipe is a tubing which is only ¾” inside diameter – so you really need to have him look at his piping charts and then provide them to you in his estimate to make sure that you KNOW that you’re going to be happy with the amount of water that comes out of your tub and shower.
BE DIRECT: The other thing to ask your plumber is if he is going to supply you with direct piping instead of looped piping. Direct piping comes directly from the mechanical room to each of the heavier use fixtures, instead of being ‘teed off’ of a trunk line that loops around the house. The reason for mentioning this is that as a rule, direct piping doesn’t cause the person in the shower to yell about the temperature change when someone turns on the washing machine. The other advantage of direct piping is that you can install water treatment for specific needs to individual fixtures though out the house. It costs a little more to have direct piping installed, and our experience is that your plumber will try his best to talk you out of direct piping because it causes a bit of extra work and materials.
A LOOPY IDEA: One of the things that we have suggested over the years is that a dedicated looped cold water line be run to all of the toilets. In the mechanical room, a chemical feed pump is installed with a paddle valve that turns on the feed pump when any of the toilets is flushed. The feed pump then injects a heavy amount of chlorinated water into the water line that feeds all of the toilets. Guess what – very little toilet cleaning will need to take place, and the water is always sterile. Only one person to our knowledge has used this loopy idea – and he loved it!
COPPER VERSUS PLASTIC: Back in the 1999 when we were getting started here in Pagosa, we introduced the Aquapex (Wirsbo) flexible piping for our water systems. We showed a number of the local plumbers the piping and fittings. Now almost all of the plumbers are using the plastic piping in new homes. However, you NEED to make sure that you don’t have some old fashioned plumber still clenched in the past, still using the slow, dirty, leaky, loud, expensive, copper piping for water lines in your home.
FINALLY: Our suggestion is that you print this article and review it with your plumber. He really shouldn’t mind helping you get the best distribution water system that you can in your house – if he’s a good businessman. If not, you need to pay attention to his blood pressure and make sure that your plumber isn’t one that might “GO PLUMBING!”