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Home plumbing systems are an intricate network of pipes that work together to, when done right, make sure that you never have to think about them at all. A good plumbing service will install a design that homeowners can take for granted, once everything is installed and running. Whether you’re building your home or adding to an existing system, it’s important to understand the basics.
Your system will include any number of fixtures, powered by carefully controlled pressure and gravity. Hot and cold water have to get to where you need them, there is waste to dispose of, drains must run clean and clear, and the system needs to be ventilated to maintain consistent pressure and get rid of foul odors and gases. There’s a lot to consider, and before you give a plumbing service a call to get to work you’ll want to have a general idea of how your system is going to come together.
It All Comes Back to the Main Stack
The main stack is where all of the water in your home gets ushered out, whether from the kitchen sink, the washing machine or the toilet. Any problem with the design of the main stack will cause trouble throughout the entire system, so we have to make sure it’s central not just to your plans, but physically central in relation to all of your drains and fixtures.
The main stack is a thick pipe, usually three to four inches in diameter, running vertically from the roof of your home all the way down through the basement. Ideally, you want everything to be within five feet of the main stack to ensure proper drainage. In designing your plumbing system with a qualified plumbing service, you’ll save a lot of time and money by grouping fixtures together — i.e., the laundry machines in the basement are directly below the kitchen sink, which is directly below the en-suite bathroom in the master bedroom, etc.
When you need to have something like a bathroom further away from the main stack, it will require its own stack, venting up through the roof and connecting to the main stack further down. Without proper ventilation and an efficient connection to the main stack, pressure in the system won’t be balanced. Your plumbing service should help you make these decisions and make sure you’re keeping the project not only safe and secure, but up to code.
Working out the Angles
It may seem easy enough to connect your system with straight lines from one pipe to another, but in practice your home plumbing design has to be a little more careful about the way things flow together.
Because the system is, in large part, powered by gravity, gentle slopes are required. However, different types of pipes require different grades of slopes, which can sometimes have an impact on where your plumbing service will position those pipes in the system. For example, thick pipes running from your toilet have to be sloped enough to ensure that all waste flows smoothly, but if the grade is too steep solid waste can get left behind.
Corners are another place where things can get a bit tricky. It’s important to avoid right angles, where clogs are more likely to form and block drainage. Instead, you’ll want to keep that bend gradual, using two 45-degree turns instead of one at 90-degrees. Understanding the way pipes bend and slope is integral to the design of an efficient and problem-free plumbing system.
Going with the Flow
So far, we’ve focused on drainage, but your supply of fresh water is pretty important, too. In many ways you can think of supply pipes and fixtures as a separate system, but since these pipes are going to all of the same places you’ve placed your drains they have to be designed by your plumbing service to work together seamlessly.
The first thing to do is decide where to place your hot water heater. Both hot and cold water will come from here, so its position in relation to all of your fixtures is crucial. This is also a place where you’ll have to be keenly aware of building codes in your area, so be sure to ask your plumbing service before you do any other work, as the rules regarding hot water heaters can get a little more complicated than the rest of the system.
One thing that is universally true is that you’ll need to have shut off valves throughout your system, for both hot and cold water at the source, and also at each fixture. Being able to shut off individual parts of your system will make things a whole lot easier if and when problems arise in the future, and there may be strict requirements for how this is handled in your building code. If you ever need emergency plumbing service, you’ll appreciate having taken the time to get this right.
Once you’ve got a strong idea for how water will flow through your home, so long as those plans meet with regulations, you’re ready to start putting it all into place.
Bringing It All Together with a Professional Plumbing Service
Whether you’re installing a new plumbing system or adding on to an older design, the plumbing service at bluefrog Plumbing + Drain has the skills and expertise to help bring your vision to life. We’ll work with you to make sure your fixtures run smoothly and drains stay clean and clear, so you can take advantage of good plumbing design without having to stress about it.
Give us a call to get to work on designing your home plumbing system. We’re ready to leap into action at a moment’s notice.