Before plumbing was a thing, we used either waterways or holes in the ground as our toilets.
In the medieval era, castles actually had toilets built into the walls. These holes hovered above the castle’s moat. No wonder nobody tried crossing a moat without a bridge. But today we don’t need waterways, holes, or moats to do away with our wastes. We have plumbing systems.
And the miracle of modern-day plumbing lets us dispose of our waste in the privacy of our own homes. Most people don’t really think about the system that takes wastes away from their homes unless something goes wrong. Yet, when building a new home or remodeling a bathroom or kitchen, you suddenly do have to think about that system.
If you’re a DIYer, this is an exciting prospect. New construction plumbing is a fun challenge. If you do it right (which you’ll know how after this article), you’ll have worry-free plumbing for a long time.
1. Get Familiar With The Local Plumbing Codes
Different states have different laws governing how homeowners install new construction plumbing. These codes ensure that you install your new construction plumbing in a safe way.
While codes may vary from state to state, some codes are fairly universal. In fact, the National Uniform Plumbing Code applies to the whole country. And while you should understand and know the National Uniform Plumbing Code, you need to check with your local building department to find out what might be different.
2. Prepare the Site For New Construction Plumbing
If you’re starting from nothing you can pretty much skip this step. You’ll have framed in the space already and planned where you will place the fixtures.
If you’re making new space in an existing house for new construction plumbing, you’ll need to identify which walls should be moved. Remove the drywall or plaster from the areas where you will lay your plumbing. And make sure you clear space for your tub or shower.
If you have wiring that’s in the way, be sure to shut off power, test the wires to make sure they aren’t “hot,” and then remove the cables that are in the way. Make sure you have a tape measure for careful measuring.
3. Run The Drain and Vent Lines
You will need to precisely place your drain and vent lines. Which is why you need to make sure to install them before the supply lines. If you don’t get these right, you’ll have to completely re-do your work once it comes time to install your tub or sink.
Codes require you slope the drainpipe at a 1/4 inch per foot minimum and 3 inches per foot maximum. Don’t be so set in your ways. Once you start laying the drain pipes, they might not lay the way you imagined. You can start assembling the pieces and then test them for fit. You can modify your plans as you go. When installing the vents, you might want to slope the vent pipes. Not all inspectors will insist on this, but they might.
4. Run Your Copper Supply Lines
Now that you’ve run your drains and vents, you can measure where to place your supplies. If you’ve never run copper pipes, it’s a good idea to practice cutting copper pipe and sweating the joints before you begin your project. If you’re running a horizontal pipe, it’s easier if you install this from the crawl space or basement.
And it’s advisable that you don’t cross drainpipes and vents with your supply lines. If both leak at the same time, you’ll quickly have a puddle.
If you install your copper along the studs, make sure you place nailing plates on the pipe side of your studs. Copper tubing easily punctures, and when you’re replacing your drywall, you don’t want to accidentally puncture your supply lines.
5. Hook Up Your Tub, Shower or Sink
If you’re hooking up a tub or shower faucet, you want to use 3/4 inch supply lines to make sure you have good water pressure. And to make sure that the water is as warm as possible, tap into the cold/hot water lines as close to the water heater as you possibly can.
You’ll also want to install shutoff valves in the lines if you haven’t already. Make sure you read the manufacturer’s directions when installing the faucet. Each faucet is slightly different.
Make sure you measure your tub and shower. Most standard tubs are around 18 inches. You want to position the faucet a good ten inches above the lip of the tub. And if you’re installing a shower, make sure you install it a good 30 inches above the tub lip.
A bathroom sink vanity is easier to install than a standing porcelain sink. With a bathroom vanity, your pipes can stick out of the wall and hide in the cupboard. With a standing porcelain sink, you have a much smaller space to work with and need to be more precise with your work. You’ll want a high-quality vanity cabinet. The best wood to use is hardwood as it resists water damage. If you choose a composite vanity, you’ll end up soaking through the bottom and rotting it if a leak happens.
6. Installing A Wet Wall or Tiles
Once you’ve laid your piping and installed the tub or shower, it’s time to install a wet wall or tile over your shower/tub wall.
Make sure you clean all surfaces before installing your wet wall. If you’re placing it over plaster, then make sure you seal your plaster before installing the wet wall. When you install your wet wall, leave a few millimeters at the bottom between the tub and panel. You can fill in the gap with grout or a sealant.
Tiling takes a bit more work. But if you do choose tile and then take care of it, you’ll have a bathroom wall that will last longer than a contemporary wet wall. Be sure you seal around your tile, however. You don’t want water leaking into your walls and causing mold and rot.
Let The Pros Handle Your New Construction Plumbing
While DIY work is rewarding, you can avoid a lot of frustration by hiring a professional to install your new construction plumbing. A professional will know your local codes by heart and will know how to save you money on materials.
To have a plumber run your new construction plumbing, call Order A Plumber today at (631) 223-7644!