This morning, I would have said we were only 25% ready to move our washing machine upstairs, and being nearly 2 weeks into our 4 week timeline, I would have said that we were way behind schedule. Well, today, in just a few hours, I have completed the drain plumbing for the washing machine! On Tuesday, we stopped by Menards and picked up a 2 inch air admittance valve. What this means is that we do not need to run a sewer vent stack out the roof yet. By not having to go through the roof, I basically have eliminated a large (and dreaded) task in this project! Once I connected and glued up the trap and the air admittance valve in the attic, it was simply a matter of measuring the 2 remaining pipes in the basement and cementing them in place. The last piece in the basement was tricky because I had to glue both ends simultaneously! One end is slightly crooked in the fitting, so I slopped a bit of extra cement onto it - it should be OK. Since I finished the drain plumbing today, I estimate we are nearly HALF done! It being only Thursday of the second week, I'd say we are ahead of schedule by a couple of days! Not too bad considering I did NOTHING on this project since the weekend... (work projects take precedence, I'm afraid) The tasks that remain:

  • Get professional plumber in to install a new gas line to upstairs.
  • Run supply plumbing (hot and cold) to upstairs
  • Wire up electrical for washer/dryer
  • Close up the washer/dryer closet

And of course we haven't even started to work on the bathroom plumbing yet. Once the washer is upstairs, the bathroom will once again become a priority. I took a couple of photos of the snazzy new drain plumbing, but they're still on the camera. You'll just have to check back later.

WOW - what a day! We got up a bit late, sat around, had breakfast, wondered what to do. When I finally got ready to work on the house, it was noon. Today was the day to get rid of ALL the old pipes - an amalgamation of galvanized steel pipe and copper of various sorts. The worst plumbing offences were committed in one corner of the basement - the 'corner of horrors', as we dubbed it when we moved in. In the same corner, the water supply enters the house, and the drain exits. The water comes in on some sort of brass pipe, then into a 1 inch shutoff valve, through the meter and to the rest of the system. It appears that only the first connection past the meter was brass - the rest of it was ancient galvanized steel pipe. If you're not familiar with it, google 'galvanic action' to see why copper/brass and steel pipe should never be mixed without proper isolation. The old pipes were alternately colored brown/rust and green, and if we could see that much rust on the outside, I wasn't thrilled about what was lurking inside. Anyway, so I unscrewed the fitting from the meter to let the system drain and then had to run back to the hardware store! I didn't have the part that would connect to the meter! Back from the hardware store, I then... went BACK to the hardware store - the part I had gotten was too small. I decided to also get a reducer with a 90 degree turn in it so that I wouldn't have to use a 3/4 PEX elbow. Just the three new bits to connect to the meter were over $20 - ouch. With the right parts in hand, I connected the main 3/4 inch line to the meter Then moved to the water heater. I removed the old top pipes from it and installed the new copper PEX-compatible items. A couple of crimps later and I was able to pressurize the manifolds with hot and cold water! On to the individual supply lines - The lines were already crimped to the manifolds, but I had to connect the kitchen and bathroom to the new lines. The kitchen was dead simple, since I had already plumbed it with PEX when we put the new sink in. Cut the new supplies to length and crimp in a couple of unions. The downstairs bathroom was nothing but headaches! The supply for the toilet was not well supported and kept moving around as I tried to unscrew the pipes - I gave up and finally soldered on a PEX adapter to the existing copper line - I'll rip it out when I finally get sick of the gross, rusty flange next to the toilet. The shower wasn't that hard, but took longer than it should. Again, I cut the existing copper pipes behind the shower, soldered in a couple of adapters and made the crimps. I actually did this one in stages and came back to it repeatedly when I got frustrated with other things. The bathroom sink was a HUGE pain in the ass. First, I couldn't see where the pipes went so I had to jig-saw holes both in the back wall under the sink and in the cabinet floor. Once I could see what was back there, I discovered a second pair of shutoff valves, boxed into the wall!! Ridiculous! The shutoffs were just reachable if I stuck my arm in the wall, but there was no way I could unscrew the pipes connected to them, or cut them off and remove the old valves. They will stay in the wall until we next remodel! I did disconnect the old valves (all 4 of them...) and ran new valves on some sturdy copper stub-outs. Once I got the 1/2 inch copper stubouts under the sink, I soldered on a couple of new valves and then my problems really began. One valve (on the right) soldered perfectly the first time, but I had to solder the left one 3 times before it held with no leaks! I think my propane torch wasn't hot enough or I didn't wait long enough before applying the solder. I ended up pre-tinning the copper pipe before I slid the valve on, then adding more solder until it ran all over the place. The cramped quarters upstairs under the sink, and in the basement above the foundation made it difficult to get anything done easily or without expletives, but it did eventually all come together. I'm very proud of our new color-coded PEX pipes. Maybe I can recycle some of the old stuff to make up for the ridiculous expense of everything. I never thought I could spend $500 in a week on nothing but plumbing supplies. Ugh.. That's one week down and three to go before our new dryer arrives and our washing machine moves upstairs for good. I think we're just on schedule - We've already built the washer/dryer enclosure, converted all the supply plumbing in the house, added about 25% of the washer drain. We still have to run water upstairs, replace all the gas lines including a new one for the dryer upstairs, finish the drain including adding a sewer vent through the roof, and connect the electrical circuits. I'll keep you updated. It never ends.

Draining the system
After the first pipe, the wrenches were useless - the pipes were so rusty I had to cut them with a hacksaw.
The new supply is a model of efficiency - a single blue pipe
Water heater before
Water heater after - and me working on the kitchen supply pipes
Cut most of the old copper off behind the shower and soldered on pex adapters
Shower supply lines, old steel and copper pipes. And hey, look at the joist they cut just for the bathtub drain! Not too bright.
Looking toward the water heater - new supplies and some old copper not yet removed
Hot/Cold supplies and a new, very simple, drain
Finished water lines for the shower
I decided to try using copper 'stub-outs' for more secure pipes under the bathroom sink.  Here is how it looks from the basement
The lengthened 'stub-outs' under the sink. The old threaded/compression fittings leaked from the day I put them in.
This will go off to the recycling center - copper ain't cheap!
Most of these will go back on the new hot water pipes to keep the long runs warm
The meter and drain.  Ain't that blue pipe pretty? The vertical pipe on the left is the ground from the electrical box.

Last night, I finally got the right part to connect the 2 inch drain line for the washing machine into the old 2 inch cast iron hub in the main drain. It's a fernco 'donut' connector. It's a tight fit, so it takes a bit of work to get it onto the PVC pipe. I stole some canola oil from the kitchen and it slid right on! Finally having a solid and proper connection to the drain allowed me to mark all the pipe fittings with their final orientations and then glue them together using PVC cement. We don't have enough pipe to finish the job, but we do have about 25% of the pipes glued together! YAY! I realized after I had everything glued that I had forgotten to put in a cleanout, a waste tee for the washing machine, and a drain for the basement wash tub. D'oh! At least cutting a length out of the pipe and gluing in another fitting is dead simple. :D I also cut to length some of the new PEX runs for the downstairs kitchen and bathroom, and added tees and elbows to direct them to their proper new locations. I might wait to connect the kitchen and bathroom PEX until the old gas pipes are removed. Removing them with new PEX in place would be a terribly tricky task. For the fourth consecutive day, I'll be making a stop at Menards to pick up 30 or 40 feet of pipe and a list of other bits. It never ends.

Here's the main drain 'tree' The PVC goes into a cast iron drain pipe running along the floor (it's hard to see)
Closeup of the PVC and drain.  The tub sink drain goes nowhere currently.
In the 2nd floor, the drain is run but not glued.  The trap looks more like a spiral in order to save space in the wall
The washer drain upstairs makes a clean 45 degree turn before going down through the wall
The PEX manifolds with color-coded pipes.  This is the bit I love the most about pex. Valved circuits and a clean installation.
The 4 pex lines to feed the downstairs bathroom and kitchen
Kitchen/bathroom drains, old water pipes, gas line, PVC furnace vents, and new PEX.  Old water, gas lines will be removed.
The water heater with various lines around it. The PEX will be hooked up this weekend and the whole house transitioned to it.

Well, it was indeed over 100 bucks at Menards this evening... Part of that was a new $60 Black & Decker reciprocating saw to replace my Chicago Electric piece of junk. The first task for my new saw was to cut through a 2 inch cast iron drain pipe that was in the way. I used a 'fire & rescue' blade, which is twice as thick as a regular blade, and I still burned the blade out after only 2 cuts. It was an older blade though... Once I had the overhead cast pipe cut, I had to bang it out with a hammer because it was CEMENTED IN PLACE. I mean with concrete. Nothing like swinging a hammer as hard as possible within 1/2 inch of a gas line to make you nervous. Said gas line was just one of the reasons the pipe had to come out - most of the rusty gas pipe will be replaced before our new dryer arrives in 3 1/2 weeks! With dryer deadline looming, I then turned my attention to the PVC drain line. Yesterday I had done some figgerin' and counted all the fittings I would need, so after Menards tonight I was prepared for the dry fit. I layed about 20 feet of pipe with 6 fittings and verified it was all at the correct pitch. (water flows down, ya know) I still have maybe another 30-40 feet of pipe to lay including vent lines, so we're not even close to done, but we're making lots of progress, and that's all that really matters. It turns out that I'm going through more 45 degree fittings than anything else. They're so handy! Maybe tomorrow I'll shut the water off.

This evening, I ran 4 water lines... in 30 minutes. PEX tubing is a dream come true. Our new PEX Manifolds are installed but not connected to the system, so I've started running 1/2 inch lines off of them to the various parts of the house. I ran two lines for the downstairs bathroom (hot and cold), then pulled two more for the kitchen. I also was able to lay out some 2 inch PVC drain pipe that will drain the washing machine upstairs. Lots more pipe is needed to get the drain to the main stack and to build the venting system. We'll have to head to the home center tonight for various PVC and PEX goodies. We spent $150 yesterday on this stuff, and it'll probably be another $100 tonight. :P

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