Friday, September 20, 2013


Plumbing sure has changed in the past 20 years.   PVC drain pipe long ago replaced cast iron, but it's relatively recent that PEX supply lines have replaced copper.

The manifold is like a circuit breaker panel for plumbing.  The red
wrench stuck to the front of the manifold can be used
to turn off the various lines all from this one box.

One question I had about PEX is whether it makes sense to insulate the hot water lines. I'm assuming that hot water in PEX tubing, compared to copper, will lose far less heat as it travels to the tap but insulating still seems like a fairly simple and low cost thing to do. The plumber said no one had ever asked for it before but that he'd be willing to do it. Nevertheless something got lost in the communication with his crew and the pipes are uninsulated. But I'll take advantage of this to do an experiment. Once I'm in the house, I'll measure the temperature at the tap before and after insulating the pipes and see for myself how much of a difference it makes.

PEX and drain/vent pipes in the first floor bathroom.

I decided to replace the only section of cast iron pipe that remained: a section that went through the wall out to the new septic system where it tied back into PVC.


While we're talking plumbing, apparently toilet technology has also improved over the past couple of decades and water-saving toilets actually work. I'll be getting this dual-flush toilet from American Standard. The big flush is 1.6 gallons and the small flush is just 1.0 gallon.

Since I'll be living on a lake I'm trying to be sensitive about how much nitrogen and phosphorus I add to the lake. I plan on getting my septic tank pumped more often than strictly required for the health of the septic system. But for that to make a difference I need to minimize how much water I push through the entire system.