Are you planning to transform your bathroom into the oasis of your dreams? Then you should get a better grip on your plumbing work. Even if you don’t see the pipes connected to your sink or shower, understanding how they work is important if you want your bathroom renovation to go all right (and on budget).
Therefore in the latest edition of our “Dream bathroom remodeling guide“We’re breaking everything you need to know about plumbing into bite-sized pieces. Read on for some surprises!”
1. Bathroom remodel 101: types of pipes
In the past, most bathroom plumbing pipes were made of cast iron or galvanized metal. However, these pipes will not work with many of the new water saving devices such as B. Low flow toilets. Low flow toilets save approximately 17,000 gallons of water annually. (Note: Flushing a standard toilet uses about 38% of the average household’s water.) The catch is that PVC (polyvinyl chloride) or PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) pipes are required. However, upgrading to these types of pipes is both easy and affordable.
“These new pipe types are flexible – and therefore very easy and inexpensive to install,” he says Cassidy Melhorn, a pipe designer and founder of Knoxville’s Volhomes.
You also need to figure out whether you prefer hidden or exposed plumbing when looking to buy your sink, tub, or toilet.
“Exposed plumbing looks more traditional, while hidden plumbing looks a lot more minimalist and cleaner,” he says Ryan Holden, Director of Progressive Heating & Air, an HVAC and plumbing company in San Diego.
If you have a lot of visible water pipes, you may want to use these copper Pipes instead of PVC or PEX, because copper is more aesthetically pleasing. Keep in mind that the work is more expensive and difficult as sawing and fitting these pipes requires more work than cutting soft, flexible PEX / PVC.
Regardless of the material, you should insulate these pipes to reduce the heat loss that occurs when your water flows from the heater to the faucet.
2. Plumbing installations can influence the design of a bathroom
The existing water and drainage pipes in your bathroom usually determine the location of the faucets during your renovation. You can move pipes and drains – though it will cost you – but some moves may be impossible.
For example, you might dream of a large bathtub right next to the bathroom window.
“But if the piping doesn’t allow this configuration, you need to rethink the entire layout,” says Holden. It all depends on the access to the drain pipe. While it is usually possible to move a large light fixture, the support beams under the bathroom floor usually cannot be cut to install new drains.
Bottom line: Before you buy a fixture that is attached to a pipe, sit down with your contractor (or a plumber) and have a conversation about what can be done.
3. Pay attention to the water pressure
The good news is that there is such a thing as the National Pipe Thread, a US standard size for a faucet that connects rigid pipes like shower heads to the shower arm pipe in your shower. That said, if you’re replacing a shower head, most of the faucets will fit into the existing pipe.
The bad news? This new shower head may not work with your existing water pressure. New shower heads are now required to restrict water flow and deliver less than 2.5 gallons per minute. So if you have low water pressure and you add a new water-saving shower head, you can soap yourself under a trickle. To avoid this travesty, get your home’s water pressure checked before purchasing your accessories.
“Every home has a different water pressure, but the average is typically 45 to 80 pounds per square inch,” says Holden. “It’s the little things like this that people often overlook and end up buying all of their accessories only to find that they don’t work with existing plumbing.”
Also, remember that you can adjust your water pressure. Often times, when your water pressure is too low it is due to clogged pipes that can clog you. If not, you can also buy a water booster. Or if your pressure is too high, you can install a pressure reducing valve.
4. Take a look at your water heater
In the event of a conversion, it may also be necessary to replace the water heater – the heaters usually last around 10 years – or even an upgrade to a water heater without a tank. These devices are also known as “demand-controlled water heaters”. About the size of a small suitcase, they provide endless warm water only when you need it. Traditional water heaters always have a hot water tank, whether you need it or not, which drives up energy costs. Just note that on-demand heaters are up to three times more expensive to buy and install than traditional heaters. That’s roughly the equivalent of $ 800-3,000 for the device, and installing it can add an additional $ 1,000-3,000.
5. Plumbing for luxury extras
Renovating is a good time to think about heating, as your walls and floors often need to be opened anyway.
“Consider installing underfloor heating,” says Holden. This method, known as radiant heat, uses hot water to carry heat through a network of hoses under the floor.
“You may also want to have a hydronically heated towel rail installed,” he adds.
6. Make sure you turn off your water first!
One last breeze for beginners: if you change your sink, shower, toilet or other water sprayer, you have to turn off your water first – or else!
You can usually just turn off the water on the faucets that you replace. Flush valves are usually located below this, and the toilet valve is generally where the plumbing meets the wall. Some bathrooms and showers have an access door on the back of the wall that can accommodate shut-off valves. There is also a main shutdown in the house, usually in the basement.