Thursday, September 2, 2010

Plumbing and Electrical Inspection

The house will soon be ready to spray insulation in the outer walls and install drywall. But before that can be done, it must receive the seal of approval from the plumbing and electrical inspectors. I invited them out on August 31. The day was quite warm and dry, so there was no mud to contend with. I was up on the roof connecting another pair of PAHS air tubes when they arrived around 11:30 a.m.

This was the third and maybe next-to-last plumbing inspection and the first electrical inspection. Let's see if I can find a photo of what the plumbing inspector saw the first time he visited last year.

December 17, 2009—Rod Egli Installing Drains for Bathrooms 1 and 2

Here is Rod Egli, our plumber, installing underfloor drains for bathrooms 1 and 2 next to the office. It isn't apparent from the photo that the entire area had been covered by several inches of snow just a few days earlier. Note the rolled up plastic and straw along the back wall, the groups of vertical rods protruding from the ground, the green tube sticking out of the wall on the right, and the square column with a ladder leaning against it in the upper-left corner. The green tube is one of the eight air-movement tubes forming the PAHS system. The square column is composed of some concrete forms surrounding a rebar backbone that will be braced vertically and eventually filled with concrete.

December 8, 2009—Recently Poured Concrete Covered by Insulation and Plastic
Right after Davis Caves had poured a lot of concrete, the weather turned nasty and cold. The ridge along the left side of this photo is a tent assembled from 4' x 8' sheets of 2.5" styrofoam board and covered with 6 mil plastic. Under that ridge are footings running along the south side of the house. In the foreground is a similar flat-roofed tent covering several 7' by 7' by 2' reinforced concrete pads that will support some of the vertical columns to be poured in a few weeks. There is at least a 1' deep airspace under these covers, and even though the tents are covered with snow, the temperature below them stayed around 50° due to the heat generated by the chemical reaction of curing concrete.

The area covered by straw in the background is where the plumbing will be installed the following week. Under the straw is a layer of 6 mil plastic to keep moisture out of the gravel where the pipes will be laid. The weather got really cold, and even with the straw and plastic, some of the ground froze where the plumbing was to be installed. Rod used a pickaxe and auger to help break up the frozen ground where needed.

The vertical rods protruding through the straw in the above photo identify three locations where support columns will be poured later. Under each cluster of rods is another 7' by 7' by 2' reinforced concrete pad that had been poured a couple weeks earlier.

Things weren't looking much better when the plumbing inspector was called out the second time about a month later.

January 19, 2010—Second Installation of Plumbing

There had been a lot of snow and freezing rain and then just plain cold rain before an insulated blanket and straw cover was rolled back so that Rod Egli could install the plumbing for bathroom 3, utility room, and kitchen. And then it turned cold and miserable. Everything was wet, and our waterlogged gloves were virtually worthless. The plumbing inspector didn't complain. Note the water line next to the wall at the left edge of the photo and the two green PAHS air tubes protruding through the wall near Rod.

All PEX Hot and Cold Water Lines are Insulated Below and Above the Floor

High grade PEX tubing was used for all water lines below and above the floor. The lines were insulated for three reasons. First, because the entire volume under, over, around, and inside the house is part of the tempered PAHS system, the insulation will minimize heat transfer between the lines and environment, potentially conserving energy and minimizing disturbances to the living area. Second, we will have an 80 gallon electric hot water tank with a 4500 watt heating element and an internal heat exchanger installed in the utility room next to the incoming water line. On the roof will be a 52 square foot solar collector connected through a 6" diameter tube to the heat exchanger. Our goal is that the energy expensive heating element will be used only on the rare occasions of extended cloudy days. Since bathrooms 1 and 2, and the kitchen sink and dishwasher are some distance from the hot water tank, insulating the water lines means that less energy will be wasted when drawing hot and cold water on an occasional basis. Third, some of the cold water lines run above the ceilings, and the insulation will minimize the potential for condensation forming on the tubes and dripping onto the drywall and suspended ceiling panels.

September 2, 2010—View of Bathrooms 1 and 2 From the Office

Here is a sample of what the pluming inspector saw on his third visit. An enclosed acrylic tub has been installed in one bathroom and an enclosed acrylic shower in the other. Insulated lines have been run to the showers, stools, and lavatories. Stool and lavatory instalation will be completed after the drywall is installed, finished, and painted and the tile floors are laid.

September 2, 2010—Water Central in the Utility Room

This image of water central was taken inside the utiliy room. The incoming water line through the floor is closest to the corner. Next to the incoming water line in the floor are three insulated water lines running under the floor to the kitchen island—hot and cold lines to the sink and a hot line to the dishwasher. In the next large tube in the floor to the right are another three insulated water lines running under the floor to water faucets installed in the walls—hot and cold lines to the sun room, and a cold line each to exterior south and east walls. Most of the other red and blue water lines run to the bathrooms.

Just to the right of the tubes coming up through the floor will stand the 80 gallon hot water tank. Above the tank is a 6" diameter tube running through the roof for bringing in the plumbing to connect the 52 square foot solar collector above the house. And just to the left of the tubes coming up through the floor, way back in the corner, will stand iron filter and water softener units. On the left wall, just this side of the white drain and clean-out pipes in the floor, visible in the lower, left corner of the photo, will be a utility cabinet and sink. The insulated hot and cold lines to the sink run through the 2 x 4's in the wall.

The plumbing inspector was mostly happy with what he saw and required only one modification.

September 2, 2010—200 Amp Panel Awaiting Wires

Electrical is another story. I hired a professional electrician to install the electrical panel and the underground cable running up it. And to save a bundle of money, I decided to do all the wiring myself. Although I'd obtained a degree in Electrical Engineering some 43 years ago, that didn't qualify me to be an electrician. So I purchased a few books on wiring a house to meet the 2008 National Electrical Code, because Peoria County, Illinois follows it very closely. Then Patricia and I spent some weeks figuring and arguing over what we wanted inside and outside the house. We put everything down on drawings and shopped for electrical supplies. It took me a couple months of climbing up and down latters a few thousand times to get all the boxes and wires run. At the rate I worked, I'm sure that no one would pay me more than $2 an hour to wire their house. The above photo shows about two dozen circuit wires waiting to be hooked up by the electrician.

September 2, 2010—Planting Switches on a Cement Column is a Challenge

When all was said and done, the electrical inspector liked my work. He wrote up only a few minor corrections and omissions I needed to take care of. He was especially pleased that I'd labeled everything and that all cables were organized and layed out neatly. When he asked how I was able to do the wiring, I replied that I'd purchased some books on the 2008 NEC code. He commented that he wished more electrical contractors would do that.

1 comment:

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