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Posted by Steven in Colorado Springs, CO on 6/2/2010

That was certainly fast!

With the completion of the roofing work, Builder Dale's next item on the schedule was to get the the underslab plumbing started. Colleen and I plan to install radiant-heat tubing throughout the first floor just as we did with the upper floor back in January, but of course before that's done, there's some plumbing to be put under what will eventually be a slab of concrete. To that end, the plumbers came up today to get started on the trenching and installation of the underslab piping. 

Tanglewood faces a couple of challenges from a plumbing perspective that complicate matters (of course). As noted before in other posts it's a very "leggy" house, and that means that lots of places that use water (for example, the master bedroom) are a long, long distance (relatively speaking) from the utility room (where one might put a pressure tank) or the well (where the water comes from). Area-specific manifolds will control the flow to sections of the house, with 1" heavy gauge PEX water tubing for the main water lines both to and from each area. 

A tricky bit will be handling hot water at the farther faucets in the house. Given the length of the house, conventional piping will result in some long waits for properly-heated water at some of the outlets, and that will just lead to wastage of both water and propane in heating water that ends up sitting in a pipe and gradually cooling off. I'd thought about installing some of the "tankless hot water" systems that are very popular with many houses, but given the off-grid nature of Tanglewood, I was reluctant to dedicate what would be a not-inconsiderable amount of propane (for gas systems) or electricity (for electric ones) to this task. A better way to go seems to be to use a recirculating pump that would work to keep hot water readily available at the farther faucets in the house. While this will be an additional energy draw, most recirc pumps are relatively small draw (around 60 watts/hour), which if it runs every other hour will only demand around 720 watts/day. I can probably add a timer of some kind to the system to mitigate the pumping overnight and potentially cut the usage down more, to perhaps 500 watts/day or so.

We'll also have to get the main water line brought in from the well, and that in turn means that we'll have to move the pitless adapter from its current location to below frost line. Before we do that we want to double-check things with the inspector to make sure there aren't any "gotcha" factors in all of this--Tanglewood has an excellent well and we don't want to mess it up!

By the end of the day, the plumbers had gotten a lot done on the trenching and pipe installation, and they're pretty sure they'll be done in another day or so, weather permitting. Colleen reports that it's moving very fast and she wouldn't be at all surprised to see it done so quickly.

Dang this is all exciting!

Steven in Colorado Springs


Looking down towards the master bathroom. Those trenches are deep, but of course they need to be for protection.
A better angle if a slightly fuzzier shot. You can see the main water line (the white PVC) in the bottom of the trench; the red and blue PEX are protected within it.
A closeup of the trench branches. The box and pipe to the left are part of the kitchen island.
Looking at the large cluster of pipes going into the main utility room. The large pipe at the far end (by the person) is for a propane overflow drain.
Piping in the apartment. The kitchen is in the back, with the utility room in the foreground.
Another shot at the apartment, this time looking towards the apartment bathroom (where the cluster of pipes are).
Another look down the long axis of the house. The cluster of pipes on the left are for the large planter that will be built inside the picture window there.
The propane drains join together and exit the house here, under the patio door on the master-bedroom branch.
The main water line comes in from the well along this trench; the pipe you're seeing is for an external faucet. The well itself is almost directly outside that center window, perhaps 20 feet from the house.
The main water line coming out of the house. You can see the well in the lower right of the picture.

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