Progress: New Pipes, Water Heater and Softener, and Utility Sink

3 min read This phase is all about win-win changes.  By updating the supply plumbing for the main floor I can improve the time for hot water, get bette pressure, save energy, AND win and extra 1 1/2 inches of ceiling height!

In order to start the next stage of basement progress, framing up the new walls, I needed the plumbers to come back and move some old pipes out of my way.  At the same time they replaced a bunch of aging equipment and re-located the water heater to make a more efficient pipe layout!   

The basement ceiling I tore out this spring was furred down from the joists with 2×2, allowing the old metal galvanized plumbing pipes to run under the joists.  I want that extra inch and a half of head hight back so I asked the Stagecoach Plumbing team to re-route the lines through the joists – and update the corroded old pipes at the same time.

Since they had a lot of work to do in one day, they only moved the section of pipes that were in my way for framing in the new bathroom.  Here you can see the new lines coming toward camera from the new water heater through the unfinished part of the basement, then diving up into the joists to get past the area I’ll be working in and then connecting to the old galvanized steel lines that still supply the upstairs bathroom.

In addition to plumbing in a new three quarter bathroom into the basement, I’m also solving an annoying problem for the whole house plumbing system.  The hot water in the kitchen and especially the bathroom faucets has always taken a terribly long time to get … hot.  In fact, I can run my electric toothbrush for the full two minute cycle before the “hot water” starts to run warm.  I’ve been washing my face in cold water a lot more lately.

This problem stems from the fact that the water heater was located next to the furnace (this allowed the exhaust to vent up the chimney) and then the hot water traveled half the length of the house north, across the whole north wall and then all the way back to the south wall.  Here’s how the hot water and gas used to run along the basement ceiling.  Hot water lines in orange, gas in red.  The water heater was close to the location where the gas line entered the house but that didn’t matter since gas lines still ran back over to the kitchen area for the stove.  And the vent wasn’t working – we had occasional gas spillage back into the house and I knew it needed to be replaced with a power vented unit.

I’d strongly considered switching out my water heater in an on-demand unit at the location of the  upstairs bathroom and one that served the clustered new basement bathroom, kitchen sink and utility sink.  I also considered installing a re-circulating system that would keep hot water running in a loop so that it was always ready to pop out of a faucet.

In the end, I decided to solve the problem with design rather than tech.  I am updating the water heater – the old one was nearing its useful lifespan.  The new location will be directly in line with the upstairs bathroom – cutting the pipe length nearly in half.  Plus we are going to be replacing the original galvanized steel water lines with PVC which will both have a wider interior opening and has a small insulation factor that metal pipes don’t have.  Here’s the new pipes layout:And here’s a before and after snap showing the new water heater, softener, and utility sink.  I was a little sorry to see the old sink go – it was a beast – but it was cracked and leaked pretty badly.  The new one will do all it needs to and be easier to keep clean as well!