Tag Archives: water

3/8 inch and flowing

“I told you so!” – was coming to my mind while looking at the plumbing in a Swedish single family home built sometime in the 1970’s.

Some plumbing lines were partially exposed to keep them in the interior conditioned space. What caught my eye right away was a 3/8 inch branch (or twig) coming off of a 3/4 inch trunk line.

plumbing-040

The use of 3/8 inch plumbing lines (or twigs) fits right with the material and energy conservation goals of an efficient domestic hot water delivery system, as was explained to me by the hot water guru Gary Klein. The problem for us in Chicago is that the smallest allowed pipe diameter per plumbing code is 1/2 inch. The rationale behind this limitation is, so I assume, concerns about pressure drop and insufficient flow capacity. But it also puts a limit on the efficiency of our hot water delivery system.

Seeing that a built 3/8 inch twig line didn’t cause the world to implode was rather exciting. Not only that, but the 3/8 inch cold water line services three fixtures: 1) the toilet, 2) a sink, and 3) a shower, while the ? inch hot water line only serviced the sink and the shower.

plumbing-041 plumbing-042

 

plumbing-043

The structured plumbing system that I have described in a previous post, recommends the use of 3/8 inch twigs. But each twig should just service a single plumbing fixture, not multiple fixtures.

plumbing-002

Serving three fixtures with cold water and two fixtures with hot water using a 3/8 inch twig lines would take us – so one could argue – into deep water. That begs the question: Why would several fixtures on one twig be acceptable?

The bathroom in the Swedish single family home is meant to be used by a single person at a time. In other words, you shouldn’t need to worry about somebody flushing the toilet or using the sink while you take a shower.

And I used that shower. There was no problem with the water flow rate or the water pressure, despite the nine feet long 3/8 inch twig. And being the nerd I am, I let the shower run while flushing the toilet or turning on the sink faucet. There was a very brief but minor pulse in the shower’s water flow, but other than that, no detectable flow reduction or pressure loss.

For full disclosure, I should mention that the bathroom in question was on the 1st floor and only a few feet away from the water heater and water main. The second floor bathroom has a different set up. Here a 1/2 inch twigs (or branches) services the various plumbing fixtures, probably to mitigate pressure loss that may come with the elevation and friction that comes with the longer pipe run.

Now – is that 3/8 inch twig I observed an exception? Apparently not. I noticed almost the exact same setup in a restaurant men’s room — a 3/8 inch twig servicing all fixtures.

As unscientific and nerdy as this is, I am delighted to see proof that 3/8 inch twigs can work and can be safe. But to whom can I take my “I told you so?”

Related posts:
Share
Anne Alt liked this post

Finalizing sump-thing

I am working down the list of plumbing connections I have to make to the new sump pit. Those that require digging or moving soil are done.

The connection for the exterior footing drains is in place. I also have the interior footing drains connected, and so is the sump discharge into the sewer, although it is a temporary connection at this point.

sump-04

Plumbing per code

To turn the temporary sump discharge into a permanent one, I need to switch out the Schedule 40 PVC piping with Cast Iron Soil Pipe (CISP), as per the Chicago plumbing code requirements. I have to use CISP where the pipes are concealed, i.e. under the future floor slab. Once I am in the sump pit, I can re-connect to the already installed PVC pipe setup.

I got myself the right CISP pipe, fittings and gaskets, widened the hole into the sump to fit the two inch CISP pipe, and made the new connection.

Sewer extension

When we ripped out the old sewer to replace it, the City required that I separate the sanitary sewer line from the storm sewer line .

To extend that line, I bought a four inch diameter CISP pipe and took it all the way to the porch footing. Once the porch gets torn down and the footing is redone, I will continue to extend that line into the back yard.

I may never connect a downspout to that storm sewer line, as I have ambitious plans for sustainable and infiltration based stormwater management in the yard. Instead, that storm sewer line may be repurposed into a sanitary sewer one day — if we ever build a garage with a studio apartment above it. But those are distant dreams and warrant a whole new blog post.

Cistern connection

I have a couple of connections to go, and one of them is the future discharge connection to the underground cistern (see also graphic above). This requires another hole to be punched into the sump pit through which I can fit the pipe. Because this is not part of the sewer plumbing system, I used a Schedule 40 PVC pipe for the rough-in and will again extend it into the yard once we redo the porch footing.

Electrical conduit

The cover for the sump pit will be in the middle of a workshop area. I wasn’t interested in having power cords from the pit cover running across the floor; I’d rather avoid that kind of trip hazard. And I did so by installing a 1 1/2” diameter galvanized electrical conduit from the pit up to the basement wall. I can have an outlet near the top of that conduit, and thus circumvent the power cord spaghetti sprawl.

Related Posts:

Sump-thing afoot…

Connecting sump-thing

Thinking about sump-thing

Sump-thing pretty heavy

Digging for sump-thing

Terminating the temporary

Grease trap cleaning

Nail biter

Why that storm sewer?

Plumbing code variance

Trenching for a new sewer line

More sewer installation

Share
Roberta Bogash liked this post

Sump-thing afoot…

… precisely, footing drains. The interior footing drains are now connected to the new sump. But I also have plans for footing drains running around the exterior periphery of the house. Now is a good time to get started on those – or at least get started with the connection to the sump as shown in the sketch below.

sump-03

The ground in the back porch is still a mess and needs to be leveled out. That gives me a good working platform. I blocked the hole I punched into the sump for the drain connection to prevent dirt from falling into the pit – and started digging the trench.

People have commented on what hard work it appeared to be, excavating the sump pit. That was actually not bad because with the long-handled shovel, I didn’t need to bend down too much.

Digging the trench, on the other hand, was hard work indeed, with a lot of bending down and slicing though stiff clay. Add to that 100% relative humidity and no breeze. I was soaking wet from the start. I’ve never sweated so much – not even in a steam room.


There are two more interesting things worth mentioning:

Did you notice that I always have water in the bottom of the trench? That is because of the rains we had saturating the soil. The advantage of having the water in the trench is that I didn’t have to measure the depth while I was digging along. The standing water acted like a level, and as long as I had the trench bottom barely covered, I knew I was at the right depth.

At one point the trench was full of water. That happened over lunch when we had a downpour and I had the sump pump disconnected. This reinforces the need I had identified for the “seamless transition” from the old grease trap to the new sump pit. I am glad it worked it out that way and thus we stayed out of trouble.

The trench digging was done, and so was my back. Still, I had to put some stone chip bedding down in the trench, level it out, place the rigid drain pipe, and cover it with more stone chips.

I stubbed the two drain pipe ends and will connect to them when the back porch comes down and we redo the footings and foundation wall.

My bones were hurting and I was in the mood for sump-thing soothing. Not sure if the Little Sumpin’ will do it this time round. But what about the Little Sumpin’ Extra?

Little-Sumpin-Extra

Related Posts:

Connecting sump-thing

Thinking about sump-thing

Digging for sump-thing

Terminating the temporary

Grease trap cleaning

Nail biter

Perimeter drain installation

Share
KA Washington, Cigdem Tunar liked this post

Connecting sump-thing

I am done thinking. And I’m ready to get my hands on some pipe and start connecting sump-thing.

That’s easier said than done, because before I could get anywhere near the pipe, I was thinking again:

The old grease trap which we repurposed into a sump pit is still active. There is the sump pump, plugged in and running, discharging the water the pit receives from the interior footing drains.

With all the rain we’ve had I needed a seamless transition — a switch from the old grease trap to the new sump in less than a day — or I would have had to deal with a lot of standing water. In short, time was the driving factor.

I punched a hole into the new sump, then disconnected the interior footing drains from the grease trap and re-routed them through the new hole into the new pit. Because I still had a trickle flow coming out of the footing drains, I needed to dismantle and fill the grease trap right away. In doing so, the flow couldn’t escape into the grease trap anymore, but rather followed the path of least resistance – through the drain pipe and into the new sump pit.

Before I could fill in the grease trap, I also had to disconnect and remove the sump pump. I was in a hurry to transfer it into the new sump pit and reconnect it, before things got too wet.

To keep things moving along, I opted for a temporary sump pump connection, using Schedule 40 PVC fittings. It is temporary because the Chicago plumbing code requires Cast Iron Soil Pipe (CISP) in all concealed (i.e. buried) locations … in other words, CISP all the way into the sump. Once in the sump, I can use Schedule 40 PVC pipe and fittings.

The Schedule 40 made for a very quick connection and allowed me to have the system up and running again before the day was over.

That was quite sump-thing, giving me a thirst for a Little Sumpin’.

Little-Sumpin

Related Posts:

Thinking about sump-thing

Sump-thing pretty heavy

Digging for sump-thing

Terminating the temporary

What pipe material to use

Plumbing code variance

Grease trap cleaning

Nail biter

Perimeter drain installation

Share
Cigdem Tunar liked this post

Thinking about sump-thing

I’ve been thinking for a while … thinking about the sump plumbing. What do I need to connect to the sump, how should I connect it, and where should I connect it?

Sump plumbing should be relatively straightforward. So why did I have to think for a while? Because I also tried to build some future proofing into the system. Plus, I needed a seamless switch from the old repurposed grease trap to the new sump.

sump-03

There is the water draining into the sump. We had the interior footing drains routed into the old grease trap. Those will now need to drain into the new sump. There also will be exterior footing drains that I need to connect to the pit.

I also have to pump the water out of the sump. That means re-routing the existing sump discharge into the sewer from the grease trap to the new sump pit.

It is typical to pump the sump water into the combined sewer system. But it is not ideal, because Chicago’s combined system barely copes as it is. Adding more water is best avoided and I have little interest in contributing to combined sewer overflow into the Chicago River or Lake Michigan. Plus the water draining from the footing drains into the sump is ground water, a valuable resource that I could use for irrigation.

At one point we will have a underground cistern in the back yard, which should be fed by the roof runoff. But I also could increase the size of the cistern and, in addition to the roof runoff, feed it with the sump water. That should provide me with a nice reliable water supply for irrigation.

To pump the water out of the sump into the future cistern, I need to rough in a discharge connection now. Once I activate that connection, I can cap the discharge into the sewer, or I can keep it, put the pump on a timer, and use it to flush the sewer once a day.

Why would I want to do that? It goes back to the check valve functionality issues we encountered. Our low flow fixtures don’t generate enough waste water volume or velocity to flush solids effectively past the check valve gate. Using the sump water at around 50 gallons per minute (gpm) to flush the system would alleviate that problem.

Last but not least, I need an electrical conduit through which I can route the sump pump power cords to an GFCI outlet on the basement wall.

Related Posts:

Sump-thing pretty heavy

Digging for sump-thing

Terminating the temporary

Grease trap cleaning

Nail biter

Perimeter drain installation

Check Valve and low flow – functionality issues

Share