As I have mentioned many times, plumbing is one of those projects that I don't enjoy, but to save money, and to get the project done the way we want it I assume the role. With the DWV done it was time to move onto the water supply for the master bathroom and complete the plumbing in the basement. We did take the time to drop the ceiling using 2 X 6's running the opposite direction of the original joist. We left a 3/4" gap between them to eliminate sound transmission and to allow the copper pipe to squeeze between them if necessary during installation.

We had several goals when we began the new plumbing for this entire project, they are listed below:

  1. All copper water supply with 3/4" main runs reduced to 1/2" at the fixtures.
  2. Isolation valves to make it possible to shut off sections of the house for future repairs and/or renovation.
  3. Shut-off valves on the water lines supplying all fixtures. These are to be gate or ball valves so that the passage of time will not destroy them like the old rubber washer type you see in most installations.
  4. Shut-off valves at each fixture (chrome or polished brass valves at the fixture supply tubes)

It seems that every home that we have lived in the plumbing has been the weakest link in the systems that we needed to repair. Typically there has been a single shut-off valve for the entire house making it necessary to shut off everything just to repair a faucet. Our house in Spencer, the only new house we have owned, had a rubber washer type valve for the main shut-off and the first time we used it the rubber split making it impossible to get the water shut off for repairs. Luckily we had little need to shut it off.

All of the water supply up to this point has been in the basement or crawl space so locating the lines and valves has been a simple matter. But this second floor and main bath project presented a bit of a challenge to meet our goals, specifically the shut-off valves for each fixture. The image above shows the underside of the second floor stairs, which is inside the main bath bathroom closet. We ran a 3/4" hot and cold line up the wall from the crawl space to just above the wall top plate.

From there we installed shut-off valves for each of the lines running to the fixtures on the second floor. The three red handles to the left are the cold water supply with the blue handle being the main shut-off for all of the second floor bath cold supply. And of course the line on the right is for the hot. The rest of the plumbing was a simple project once this manifold of valves was fabricated. I am sure that a plumber will look at this and tell us we wasted copper, valves, and time but it met our goal, that is the ability to shut off the supply totally as well as shutting off each fixture.

This came in very handy when we pressure tested the entire system. We opened the valves in the crawlspace that allow water to flow to these two bathrooms. Then we could test each individual line going to the second floor. Out of all the fittings we used we had only one leak, and of course it was the hardest to repair. The image below shows the second floor tub and shower valve that was installed as part of the 1995 Library and Entry project. At that time we hoisted the tub in place before closing it in with framing and during the winter of 1996 I ran copper water lines down the wall before covering it with sheet rock.

When we opened the valve for the hot water side we were greeted with a shower of water coming out of the hole in the floor. It was late in the day and rather than investigate any further we shut if off and left the remaining lines open to continue pressure checking the fittings. The following day I removed the cover on the second floor valve assembly and discovered a bad solder joint right next to the valve, this is marked on the image above. If you have ever tried working on water filled pipes you know the challenge that can present. The only way to drain the water out of the lines was to open the tub valve to remove any pressure and then cut the pipe in half below the floor.

When I started I thought I could manage the repairs to the fitting through the small hole provided by removing the valve cover. But this was not to be, so I had to cut an access hole through the landing side of the wall. This area will be covered with wainscoting sometime this summer so any patchwork will be minimal. The image below shows a close-up of the completed work.

I began the repair by trying to separate the small piece of 1/2" pipe from the male adapter that threads into the valve assembly. I quickly learned that not only does all the water need to be out of the pipe you're working an, but the other half of the valve must also be drained. The cold water side was bleeding the heat away from the joint, not allowing enough heat to melt the solder. Once the cold was drained the pipe separated from the elbow first. So before I was done I removed the threaded end, then removed the pipe from it. I replace the pipe since it had suffered too much from the heat to be reused, but I managed to save the other fittings. I was able to get this entire repair completed without another leak, not bad for an amateur, in my opinion. Be sure to stop back in a few days, I plan more pictures of the water supply project, including pipe insulation to prevent water damage to the ceiling that might occur from condensation.

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