Deep Dive: Plumbing
Plumbing and electrical wiring are the two most satisfying things for me to do. I've no idea why, but I know I'm not alone in my strangeness. Long ago, when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up (something I never actually did), I thought about being an electrician and/or plumber. Two things kept me from taking the plunge: the cost of insurance, and having to deal with the general public.
Unaware that I didn't need a licensed plumber for my home, I hired one to do the waste lines, which had to be installed after the foundation was filled with aggregate, but before the slabs were poured. My plumber also came prepared to run water lines under the slab as well. But the large coils of plastic water pipe he brought weren't required, as I informed him I wanted to run copper for the water lines—whereupon a large grin of vicarious satisfaction spread across his face. He too disliked using plastic for the water supply; we shared a preference for a more "old fashioned" way of doing things. Plumbing places me in "the zone." There's something about the simple process that's at once mesmerizing and satisfying. And I've been doing it since I was a teen.
Long before groundbreaking, I was busily designing the system on virtual paper. For instance, from the beginning I wanted to install an on-demand water heater in the bathroom adjacent to the shower. Later I realized that a second, smaller unit located under the kitchen sink would improve efficiency, since the kitchen is on the opposite side of the house from the bathroom; one of the smallest units would satisfy the hot water needs for the kitchen.
I spent weeks researching electric on-demand water heaters, and I learned that performance and reliability varied considerably between different manufacturers, so I dug and dug until I found what were considered the best units on the market. Interestingly, they weren't the most costly, and they came from Germany, for what it's worth.
While the unit requires no emergency pressure relief valve (it only heats when water is flowing), the manufacturer indicated that some local codes still require one, so I added a stub-out for a pressure relief valve should it be mandated.
The apparent plumber's nightmare below was quite satisfying to design and build, and it's really not as complicated as it appears. What adds to the visual complexity is the valve and water line for the second shower head.
Of course, all of this will be covered up when the house is done, so I won't be able to "show off" my handiwork to anyone except via this website. And that's OK; the fun was in the process of doing it. (Yes, the solder is lead-free.)
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