Escher - Must have been a Plumber

  • If you are going to be learning plumbing, what better time than winter!  
  • You'll be using a torch, heating the house, saving energy right off the bat!
  • I'm impressed with my work, mostly that it worked and didn't leak, which lets face it, given it's insane complexity, and my first effort, which no doubt led to the insane complexity, is a miracle.
  • Alot of that complexity is to allow for easy add ons in the future. 
    • I plan to feed the entire house via this piping.
    • Directly feed a relocated bathroom.
    • Directly feed a relocated laundry room.
  • Bigger is better:  Sometimes it is.  Hence the 3/4 inch pipe.  There is a big differnence in pressure drop if all your fixtures tie directly into 3/4 inch lines vs. trying to run a few back to back / stacked back to back off 1/2 lines.  There is also a big cost for material and constructibility.  You don't uncoil this and skip some elbows by making wide sweeps, it's all pipe and fittings. 
  • Tiliing - See Seperate Section (click here)
  • Learning all about pressure tanks.
Escher - DIY Plumbing:
Yes, first time I did water supplies and soldered. 
Can't say I was fast.  
Can say it didn't leak when charged.
Took 5 days.  Still, saved $800 easy, probably more, more than I take home in week, and work was closed that week anyway.
What did I learn? 
1.  One angle takes this work:  Dryfit, measure and cut next section of straight pipe, dry fit, make sure dryfit is tight, but can be taken apart, go on to next fitting, and next,  and next, adding in braces for pipes as you move along.  Then take apart, get out wrenches if it doesn't come apart easily, sand inside of both ends of angle inc. rim to bright metal, clean outside of straght section also, apply flux to inside of angle, outside of straight, cover any exposed materials that might burn or stain with metal (this can be minized by assembling sections off site, however, you get it a little off, and you'll be melting joints apart and resoldering in the site anyway), light up blow torch, solder two joints, if upside down joint, pray gravity was countered by other physics.  REPEAT for every fitting. 
2.  Issues, one fitting short, go to store, store dosen't have that weird fitting you need, keep going to other stores, does shut off valve on your section of plumbing hold water back 100%, or 99%, if the latter, you'll need to drain line maually periodically.
3.  When you were taught to STACK PLUMBING and make it BACK TO BACK, do it!  Done exactly, it reduces the number of fittings, connecting pipes pieces, etc. ALOT.
Pressure Tanks:
In the sticks you are your local utility.  Yeah, you get 99% of you're electricity from the grid, but you still need your own generator.  Yes you do in snow country, unless you want the pipes to freeze, which is right behind fire in clean up cost. 
You can tell what a problem pressure is, by the length of this article.
So, water = well = pump = pressure.  In the olden days this meant one thing, a pressure tank.  You don't want a well pump cycling on and off every 2 sec trying to keep the lines at 20 lbs., it'll burn out way faster than it needs to.  In addition to the pump, you needed a pressure tank.  A tank which on top would be a bubble of air.  That bubble would be compressed to say 30psi by the well pump and that bubble would push / provide pressure to the water until say 10 psi, then the pump cuts in.  It cuts pump cycles down to say once a minute.  Yeah, quite a pressure range.
In modern times, ie, the last few years, pressure and temperature balancing faucet valves have become economically available, well, at $200 for a good one, sort of affordable.  Yet, if you have a well, you'll want the balancing valve on the shower if you have to eat Ramen for a month.  Pressure surges are such fun in a shower - not! 
Even more recently, pumps with variable-speed drives as well as an "electronically commutated motors" (ECM) are capable of running "on demand".  Meaning, it comes on when pressure goes down, "feels" how fast the pressure is dropping, and ramps up just enough to counteract the pressure drop / water flow.  Neat trick, and the ECM part drastically reduces energy use.  Between the two, you can dump the pressure tank and get less variation in pressure.  Win - Win.
Whats wrong with pressure tanks?  Why am I working on one?  Well, they get water logged, air bound, and now, the rubber bladders used to hold the air bubble can burst, burst and clog the inlets / outlets, and......  Yeah, if you realize your pump is running alot, you check the pressure on the tank, run it, ck again, drain it, ck again, open valves to house, ck it, etc until you get some idea what might help, let air out, pump air in, get a new one. 
In my case, no idea if the bladder burst, but I had to add air, and should do so again, and, had to raise the pressure spread on the pump.
Weird Weatherization:  
Weatherization:  There is nothing like living in the country AND having an old house to bring out the weird.  In the basement is a 3 inch pipe that "runs to daylight".  It's needed to drain the springs that flow through the basement.  Of course, if water can go out, what can come in AIR, really cold air in the winter!  
What's the big deal you say, EVERY home has a sewer pipe, do whatever they do to keep air from getting into the house.  Well, that's the trap where it leaves the building.  Not so easy with a natrual spring and a dirt basement.  Eroded material could settle and clog the "trap", basement fill with water, pump short out, etc..
Solutions?  Pave the basement, money, and water will still get in.   Drain tile around the basement - did I mention I'm working, but part time, at half salary.  Trap - see above, it could easily clog.  Perfeorated drain line and gravel wrapped in filter fabric, level floor with gravel, cover with EPDM waterproof membrand and loose tiles - YEAH, but not money or time.  Someday though.
Final solution, a half trap, a long sloping pipe with an angle on the end.  High end over the top of the angle.  Creates a water filled trap with easy flow pattern.  Then build a box around that and over the origional drain pipe with a wood and foam top that will float if the trap clogs and water starts filling up the basement.