Beginning a journey to live more simply…

Archive for the ‘plumbing’ Category

Ultra Low-flow Shower Head.

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011:

In the spirit of going small and becoming more intentional regarding the amounts of space and resources we consume, we installed a Bricor Ultra Max .55 gallon per minute ultra low-flow shower head. This specialty piece was pricey, for sure, but something that we really wanted to include in our home.

While we will be able to be very conservative in our water consumption, we are not entirely motivated by altruism- our water heater only holds 7 gallons of water…

Many, many heart-felt thanks to Danno Frierdich and Kyle Klues. They showed up on day one of this project, and it was so very fitting that they wrapped up the very last day with us… Not to mention the countless days they’ve driven over 3 hours each way to help out throughout. You guys made this dream possible for us!

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Problem Solving, part ONE.

Friday, October 7th, 2011:

The pressure testing went so much better than anticipated, but did lead to our first real problem solving situation.

We quickly realized once the water heater was fully pressurized that we’d likely have a need to drain it. It does not have a drain.

Hind sight being as clear as it tends to be, we recognized that we should have placed some sort of a valve in the thing. There is a hole in the top and in the side of the water heater allowing for placement of the pressure relief valve in either an upright or sideways tank orientation. We chose the upright orientation and put the pop off valve in the top of the unit. Then we placed the included brass plug in the side as instructed in the owner’s manual. But- once the water heater was full, how were we supposed to get the water out of it if we ever needed to move it?

Solution: We grabbed an old oil funnel, attached it to a hose that we then ran out the front door. Once in place we removed the plug, caught the gushing water before it hit the cork floor, and drained half of the water heater tank.

We now have a nice spigot with a valve in the water heater. Should we ever have to remove it, we’ll only be lifting 3 gallons of water instead of 7.

It appears that we still have so much more to learn. We’re looking forward to it!

Pressure Testing the Water Lines.

Friday, October 7th, 2011:

With quite a bit of trepidation, we finally mustered the courage to run water through the copper lines for a pressure test of all joints and fittings.

Being as this was our first stab at sweating copper pipe, visions of pin-hole leaks and bursting explosions of water have been plaguing our sleep for months. No better way to jump in than with both feet, though, so we hooked a hose up to the external water inlet, opened up the sink and shower fixtures, and slowly cranked open the freeze-proof faucet.

Turns out, we’ve had a good bit of beginners luck: NO LEAKS!
We’re both sleeping a bit easier now…

We purchased an RV-specific potable water hose from Kamper’s Supply to run from the water source. We’ve also included an in-line filter just before the water enters the house as a pre-screening component to keep our water lines and water heater a bit more clean and free of debris.

Another neat little addition is the use of a ‘hose saver’. This little brass fitting is shaped in a 90 degree bend to allow the hose to hang perpendicular to the side of the house keeping it from kinking. Clever contraption.

The water inlet allows us to screw a hose directly into the side of the house and incorporates both a pressure regulator as well as a check valve. This then connects directly into our copper water line system to feed our sink, water heater and shower. Gray water will drain out into 30 gal. portable waste water tanks.

Many thanks to Mike Jennings, Camp Ondessonk’s Ranger, for walking us through the pressure test and helping us look for leaks!

Shower Fixture in place.

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011:

Coming together: cut holes for running the flexible water supply lines and assembled the shower fixture for installation.

Many thanks to our good friend Katie Birge for her help with figuring out how all the guts to the shower controls went together. Those things are more complicated inside than we ever knew from our general-user background. Pretty cool learning about how things work throughout this project!

Gray Water Discharge.

Monday, July 25th, 2011:

Began addressing our Gray Water Discharge by running a couple exterior lines.

We used 1 1/2″ PVC to drain the sink and ‘clothes processor’ (our German-made all-in-one washer/dryer combo) that then couples into black ABS pipe once leaving the interior of the kitchen. This system drains down to an RV shut-off valve -purchased at Kampers Supply– which will then drain into a portable 30 gal. RV wastewater tank. We tend to use very eco-conscious soap for dishes/laundry, so we do envision being able to put our gray water directly onto a garden at one point down the road, but in the mean time a portable disposal tank will meet our needs.

Our shower drains out 1 1/2″ PVC, and will have it’s own portable 30 gal. RV tank as well.

We hope to cover all needs/regulations regarding our gray water discharge, and be prepared for any situation we may find ourselves in regardless of where we end up parking. This is the point where we are feeling very grateful that we chose not to deal with black water discharge! -Though the composting toilet has yet to be tested…

Beginning Shower Installation.

Saturday, May 28th, 2011:

Eddie Cler of Paul’s Machine and Welding stopped by the Tiny House to help install the stainless steel shower that he designed and built for us.

With a continued focus on minimizing our use of plastics, we were very interested in an alternative to the standard fiberglass shower unit. Finding a stainless steel shower enclosure became immediately attractive to us, but a quick internet search returned some sobering prices… -Getting into a custom-sized, commercially made stainless steel shower was going to be a few thousand dollars.

We were very fortunate to discover that one of our Camp Ondessonk co-workers had a brother and father who worked in their family’s machine shop business. We were able to enlist the help of some very talented and experienced folks to design a modular, custom-built stainless steel shower enclosure that would meet the needs of our tiny house nicely.

The footprint of the shower is 32″X32″X75″ and consists of a floor panel w/drain, 3 wall panels, and a ceiling panel. All fit together with an overlapping lip system to create water-tight joints and corners. Each panel is attached to the underlying mildew-resistant drywall using 100% silicone caulk as an adhesive. With all panels in place, a final bead of silicone will be drawn over all joints to seal everything up completely.

We are extremely pleased with the shower so far. While it was still a bit of an expense -and has added a lot more weight than fiberglass would have- we really couldn’t be happier!

A HUGE and heartfelt THANK YOU! goes out to Ed Cler for his help with this project. We certainly couldn’t have the shower we wanted in our tiny house without him. Words cannot describe the feeling we had when we heard Eddie say “You know, we can build this thing” when we described to him what we thought was probably going to end up being a pipe dream… He’s been an invaluable friend, teacher, and fearless supporter of this project. Thanks Eddie!

Enclosing the Water Tank.

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011:

Spent a few hours after work creating a pannel to hide the stainless steel potable water tank. We will need to be able to access the tank as well as the other plumbing elements, so we have built this small ‘wall’ to be removable -it is one solid panel that can be easily popped out for access. The permanent frame was constructed of 2X2’s, the removable portion framed with 1X2’s.

Careful measurements were made to ensure that the tank can slide out from it’s nook, but still allowing plenty of room to slide in the washer/dryer combo unit. With such limited space, ensuring that everything fits together is like carefully piecing together a complex puzzle. Planning has been an enjoyable challenge!

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