One of these place holder posts – Plumbing

Well my fellow renovators – it’s been awhile since I had a chance to pop in for a post. A couple of reasons – one, I have nothing really new and shiny to show you. I’ve been working on my not very photogenic original old home to get it ready for sale. Trust me, it’s not a Pinterest kinda home. The second reason is I’ve been kinda under the weather – so much so that they thought it would be great if I took a helicopter ride down to Vanderbilt for a little surprise surgical tune – up. So all is well and I’ll be back at the pretty house soon to finish up one room at a time. I did learn that a chopper ride from my house to Nashville cost just under 68,000.00 – I was kinda disappointed in the snacks, but the view was nice.

But in the mean time, I thought I’d go over some of the mechanical challenges and older home presents. Let’s start with plumbing – this subject cost me so much money and time that I’ve just been able to talk about it now.

As would be expected, a home from 1935 would be a patchwork of old and new – well done and poorly done. Cast Iron and PVC, galvanized and copper.

Of course the home inspection said this we just fine. I’m no plumber (yet) but this looked a little sketchy to me.

So, the project developed slowly. And before I knew it my home became a whole house renovation. I wanted copper for my supplies – I know many people prefer PEX, but I like my renovations a little more difficult. It’s a quirk of mine. Plumber #1 was someone I knew – that’s the first mistake. After 8,000.00 and showing up part time over 6 months – he stopped showing up at all. Here was the upstairs shower controls – wrong gauge copper – bad joints.  Not exactly to the plan.


On to plumber #2. Much better. Had to rip out all the plumbing that #1 did and add re-circulation lines. This looks right.

The only problem with plumber #2 is he was a commercial and industrial plumber and thought I needed shut off valves everywhere. Not really what I was looking for since the basement ceilings were going to be drywalled later. After 10,000.00 he moved out of the area.

In the mean time I was able to get the tankless water-heater up on the wall.

And #2 plumber did do a good job of getting it installed correctly.

I used a Rinnai 9.2 GPM heater with this set-up. Plumber #2 thought I would want an electric tank heater instead of the gas that was previously here. No, not very efficient, so I use it as a tempering tank for water as it enters the building.

I installed this several years ago, so technology is much better today, with some of the new tankless systems having built in re-circulating systems. Here you see the re-circulating pump and aquastat that regulates the temperature in the hot-water supply lines. There is a 6 gallon electric water heater that keeps water in the hot supplies at a steady temperature.

The great thing about the re-circulation loop system is that hot water is nearly instant at any tap in the house. I have three full bathrooms on three floors and hot water is never an issue. Insulated pipes keep the pump and heater from running much at all. I like the thermometers commercial plumber #2 used.

Now we’re on to plumber #3 as I have the basement plumbing rough-ins going on. It was after I wrote another check for 4500.00 that I thought it was time I sharpened my plumbing skills.

So now on my own I decided I needed to add  ‘plumber’ to my list of DIY skills. And so I took over the  basement plumbing. The good thing is – it’s a basement. If I messed up here I’d have some wet concrete, but no soggy drywall or ceilings.

So with a little practice and a handy torch, I started my new life as a plumber.

And my plumbing continues – with the addition of the steam generator for the shower.

So there is a snapshot of some of the other projects that has made this a 10 year renovation and counting . Every system – plumbing, HVAC, electrical, – all were removed completely and replaced up to current codes.  Obsessive? Sure But knowing it’s safe and efficient makes me happy.

Till – next time…


20 thoughts on “One of these place holder posts – Plumbing

  1. Hmm – sorry you had such an expensive and unexpected surgical tune up but glad you have come through it. Gosh, the plumbing expenses were kind of mind boggling – no wonder you’ve been honing and expanding your skills. Hope all goes well from now on.

    • Hi Barbara – yes all is better now. The costs can get out of control fairly quickly – especially with incompetent plumbers. Plenty of competent plumbers out there – unfortunately I didn’t get one of those.

  2. So, you had surgery at Vanderbilt to stop you hemorrhaging money?? Was it successful? Seriously, Curt, I hope you are well and taking it easy. Most of this post is over my head, but the copper sure looks pretty. Good luck with your new DIY skill! Do take care …

    • Hi D’Arcy! Yes, I think it was to stop the money ‘leak’. Yes, I’m much better now – I’m used to this medical stuff – this was my 42nd surgery I believe. But back to new and your would never know I’ve been sick. We all have issues in life – mine is one that has made a lot of medical folks rich. But as long as I’m on this side of the dirt and able to make sawdust – I’m pretty happy with that.

    • Ha! Then you can feel my pain. That’s why I just got fed up and started doing it myself – I didn’t have a choice – I ran out of plumbing money. 🙂

      • I hear you: very expensive fixes and I think you were right: the original plumbing looked very dodgy. We replaced a bunch of galvanised pipes with copper and it all would have been much cheaper if we had done it all at once. Sadly we are strictly budget renovators and we have had to renovate a few rooms at a time. SIGH.

  3. Golly Curt! This all sounds a bit harrowing. Very impressed with your plumbing skills but alarmed by your visit to Vanderbilt… Hope you’re taking good care of yourself now. We installed very similar, if not identical, gas water heaters here. Mostly they’ve been great but a bit temperamental at times… By the way, D’Arcy is coming to visit in October. We ‘met’ a few years ago through our ‘building blogs’. It’ll be lovely to meet her in person!

    • That’s wonderful that you and D’Arcy will get together. Maybe a new blog will come of it. Sadly I write this from a hospital room in my hometown. I’ll get sorted out here or another helicopter ride to Tennessee. I’ll be fine – old cockroaches are hard to kill.

  4. We had all three plumbing types here PVC, Galvanized and copper. The Galvanized reacted with the copper and caused a blowout hole in the copper line under the kitchen floor… dead center of the house… We called in a plumber and had them give it all a do over. It is all PVC, but it was what we could afford and we don’t get winters quite so bad here as you do.

    Good Grief! I moaned and complained about Bob’s ambulance ride to Huntsville to the tune of about 9,000 that our insurance would not touch, but yours is insanely expensive. Did your insurance cover any of it? I hope!

    And I’m with D’Arcy: “… every day above ground is a good day!”

    • Hi Lynda! Been back in the old hospital again, but all fine and dandy now. Yes, I had extra insurance coverage and it was a total of 250.00! Of course the Emergency transport company received just a fraction of that from the insurance company. But if I didn’t have insurance they offered an easy payment plan for the full amount. I hope Bob is doing better.

      • Oh, yes he is. This was several years ago now. 😉 So glad that your insurance took the sting out of your bill! We paid monthly till it was all gone…

    • Hi Gil! See the date? Well, I’ve been a sick boy again, but I think i’m coming down to the final stays in the hospital. I’ll be back to finish up my house and see on the progress you’ve made.

      • Take care Curt.
        And I hope to see more restorative renovation updates soon.
        Treb has been ill, so we have had to bite thd bullet and take on paid help to have any hope of finishing.
        Plus, I opened a shop in France……..
        And a sister blog
        Yes, I should be retiring!

      • You are amazing – and yes we should be retiring, but that’s not in our DNA, I’m afraid. I hope your husband is on the mend and getting back to the grind that we both love. I’ll check out the shop, you have excellent taste, so perhaps some will rub off on me.

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