02 November 2012

Corwin, the plumber

To be fair, Lemontree spent a lot more hours (worming around in the nasty dirt in the crawlspace, no less), but I'm the one writing this so I get to choose the title.

After finding that plumbers want money in the amount rivaling a college education before they will replumb a house, we decided to treat ourselves with the pleasure of doing it ourselves. Lemontree used PEX in the crawlspace and I did copper anywhere the piping is exposed to the living space. I achieved a 90% success rate soldering, which means I ended up trashing a few fittings but even with re-buying a few mutilated fittings we still came out way ahead.

The experience did reaffirm to me that I MUCH prefer machining metal over joining it though. Soldering (and brazing, and welding) seems to be more of an art than a science... and I guess I'm not an artist.

Anyhoo, the complex arrangement you see in the pic is for the recirculating hot water pump. There is a check valve to ensure hot water drawn at taps comes only from the water heater hot line, and not from the recirc return line (which would result in lukewarm instead of hot water). And there is a faucet to bleed air from the line (since the pump would burn out if it tried pump air).

The pump itself will not be at the water heater; by placing it in the laundry room -- closer to the furthest fixture from the water heater -- our thermostatic pump will be more energy efficient. If it were at the water heater, it would have to pull hot water all the way through 70' of return line before sensing the hot water and turning off. By putting it as far away from the water heater as possible, it only has to pull hot water through about 12' of return before it shuts down. It's not so much the electricity we're saving (the pump only uses 11W, less than a compact fluorescent light bulb), it's the 58' of water we want to avoid heating and re-heating all day long.

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