Thursday, December 27, 2007

Cavalcade of Shmë

The plumbing in this house is in sad shape. Not the parts that have been replaced, like the water heater, or the new stuff in the addition, but pretty much everything else is in need of replacement. I've known I was going to have to redo the plumbing to the sink in the old bathroom for a long while. Over two years ago a leaky faucet led to a sizable project replacing things there, and the discovery that the hot water side was completely full of corrosion. Fortunately my good friend Jim had convinced me to replace the plumbing to the shower with copper back when I had that ripped up, but I'd left the sink and toilet supply alone since I hadn't opened that part of the wall.

Since the last blog post, I've finished painting the new bathroom, tiled the floor, installed the vanity, toilet, associated plumbing, and all those little details (minus window trim) that go into a bathroom, and basically got us up to a 1.5 bathroom house. The new toilet is a wonderful thing, a Toto Aquia that has two buttons, one that uses 0.9 gallons for a flush, and the other that uses a full 1.6 gallons. More expensive than the cheapo ones at Home Depot, but it does a better job with 0.9 gallons than many of them do with 1.6 gallons or more. And if we'd been replacing an old 3.5 gallon one, we could have gotten a nice rebate from EBMUD. It was a bit more complicated to install because of the streamlined design, but it looks nice and works great.

After I'd installed the vanity, the drain pipe, and the supply lines, with much fanfare I turned on the hot water faucet. Sploosh! as expected. After some adjusting of the pipes in the trap, I turned on the cold water faucet. Dribble...not as expected. We've had low water pressure on the cold side in the kitchen for quite some time, but I hadn't worried about it too much since the kitchen plumbing will be redone in the remodel. But I'd tapped into the water lines near the kitchen, and it turns out the cause of the low pressure is further up stream than I thought. D'oh!

The plumbing in the old part of the house is a mishmash of galvanized and copper, with dielectric unions and bronze fittings scattered about to connect the two. I really need to replace the galvanized all the way out, or I'm going to hit this problem again in the future. Sweating dielectric unions is a royal pain, so I decided I didn't want to just replace a little of it to start, but the water pressure in the kitchen and new bathroom is low enough that there's no point in finishing the shower until I do something about it.

So this morning I took Katarina to the BART station (our friend Tess is borrowing the Golf for a while, since her car died) and headed on over to Home Depot. A long time and several hundred dollars later, I left with a bunch of new copper pipe and fittings, came home, and went into the basement to get started. And realized that more work and more parts would be needed. I'd missed counting one of the branches (ironically, the cold water supply for the old bathroom that I've known for years I was going to need to replace). But I also noticed that the pressure regulation valve is badly corroded on one end. So before I pick up Katarina this evening, it'll be another trip to Home Depot...

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