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Posted by Mary in PA on 8/15/2010

Months ago when we decided to do on our own plumbing, I bought two basic plumbing books that John used to diagram the shop’s simple system. He included the foundation wall penetrations, keeping in mind our overall site plan (future house & septic locations) so that the water line (from the house) and waste pipe (to the septic) made sense. Meanwhile, I found a plumbing supply in a nearby town, on an old-order Mennonite farm. It is apparently an adjunct to their farming operations and run by some of the family members. Typically these businesses are no frills and value priced. They often don’t take credit cards and are never open on Sunday. Their pricing beats or competes well with the big-box stores, and ironically it is easier and quicker to get what you need and get on your way than negotiating the zoo at big-box warehouses. Based on research and John’s inventory list, we purchased the various pipes, fittings, primer, glue, etc. and added them to the burgeoning supplies we had stowed in virtually every room of our current house.


We decided to run the water line along the interior footing, around the perimeter of the building to the bathroom at the back of the shop. This keeps it below frost line and does not require it to cross the waste pipe. At the front of the building we planned a sleeve and fitting to allow for a hydrant (outside). I noticed the local farm store had hydrants on sale (15% off), so that too was purchased ahead and stored until we needed it.


When the foundation wall was almost complete, it was time to put our plumbing planning and purchases to use. I was really pleased that the excavator agreed to dig out the sloping trench needed for the waste pipe (from toilet to foundation wall). This saved us a ton of work to hand-dig the compacted building pad – Yippee! A good start to the task for sure.


I uncoiled about a hundred feet of the one-inch water line from the five-hundred-foot roll and worked it down into the narrow footing trench. To be on the safe side, I picked out any rocks near the water line so there was less risk of punctures when we backfill. I also attached the fittings and pipe clamps. At the same time, John worked through dry-fitting the bathroom drain and vent pipes. As part of the prep, weeks before, John calculated the depth of the waste pipe at the foundation wall based on the slope we needed to meet code. We provided the mason with a six-inch sleeve to build into the block wall at that height so we would have the wall penetration ready for us when we did the plumbing. The mason readily agreed to angle the sleeve so that we could avoid any sharp bends in the four-inch waste pipe – to hopefully reduce any tendency to clog. As John fit the waste pipes between the toilet and the foundation wall sleeve, he found a little 'oops'. The sleeve angle was just a bit off and would not allow a straight run of pipe to cross the distance from the wall to the future toilet. But, two 22.5 degree elbows fixed it up and soon enough and we were back in business. After reading some plumbing tips on the Internet, we knew to apply colored primer before gluing, and to position the pipes so that the ‘schedule 40 PVC’ label was on top so the inspector could see we had used the proper technique and materials.


John had also purchased the parts to pressure-test both the supply and drain lines. This is not required by code in our area, but was strongly suggested by our building inspector… and we had planned to do it in any event. Better to test and know, than to concrete and leak. His initial stab at this showed the cheap on-line compressor we bought was defective, so we had a slight delay while he got another one. Sometimes a bargain isn't. ;-)


In addition to the time actually on site, there was the time researching it and acquiring the parts, storing them, and then packing them up to take to the site on work day. And we had to buy a few more items than we had initially, but that is pretty typical for any DIY job. The work itself was very doable and would have even been fun, if not for the 90+ temps and high humidity – but even that was offset with a gorgeous sunset. I was really pleased it worked out so easily. We saved a little bit of money on the labor and I learned some new skills.

All good.


Run, John, run. See John run. Staging materials.
Pondering the plan.
Oops! Sleeve at wrong angle.
Fix! Two 22.5-degree elbows.
All glued up.
Sink & toilet drains and vent.
...but we have a bad compressor.
Set up for pressure test...
Protecting gauge until next time.
Hydrant sleeve. Gotta' plan this stuff ahead of time.
Mary preps 1" water line.
You're working hard and then look up... Time for a break to watch the sunset.
Picking rocks from near water line in narrow footing trench.
Done for today.

Posted by Joe in Hermiston, OR on 8/17/2010

Joe's Forum Posts: 28
Interview Answers: 58

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Looks like you had a "fun" day. I did have a question though. What do you call the pipe fitting that holds the pressure gauge and air chuck to test the system? Thanks for your time, and keep having "fun"!!


Posted by Mary in PA on 8/18/2010

Mary's Forum Posts: 101
Journal Entries: 60
Interview Answers: 15

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Hi Joe,

I would call it a pressure-test gauge. I bought this one on eBay, link below, for $13.50. It has a 1" inside-diameter pipe thread that connects to the system and a tire-inflator valve. I used a 12V portable air compressor to pressurize it.

Pressure-Test Gauge



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