Monday, February 6, 2023

Thoughts on Plumbing and House Design

The past few months have been an (unwanted) deep dive into the world of household plumbing, and the various issues around it. Here are some things I've learned.

1) Debugging complex legacy plumbing and debugging complex legacy codebases are equally hard


2) At some point, you're going to need to check ALL the pipes


3) Most home designs make access to pipes HARD. Especially new/modern builds! 

For example:
    - Downpipe inspection panels hidden behind a wall. To access these, you must first drill + cut various wall panels to reveal the pipe, in order to find where the panel sits... then, when all is said and done, you then need to call in a builder, plasterer, and finally painter (complete with multiple rounds of sanding, phone calls, and time away from work/life waiting)

    - In contrast, older houses here at least have an underfloor crawl space, that can typically be accessed through some removable panel (similar to manhole covers). That said, in many cases, you end up needing to remove carpet to get to it, which does still mess things up a bit.


4) Some plumbers come better equipped than others. As a result, I've come up with a list of the neatest bits of equipment I've seen that IMO it'd be nice to have on hand, so they can do their jobs easier.  (see later) 

The biggest takeaway from all this:

If I ever end up doing designing and building my own dream home in future (something getting increasingly likely these days), I'll likely strongly insist on having "easy access" removable panels (i.e. no cutting, drilling, nail digging/restoring, sanding, re-Gibbing needed) running throughout the house for whereever key utility lines run. Need to check/fix the pipes, fix the wiring, run new cables, etc? No problem, just unlock + open the service panels!


Regarding Hot Water Cylinders

Something I learned a few years ago, in one of our first major plumbing incidents in recent years: External hot water cylinders are a thing. They are also very good.

Never again will you need to worry about a sudden flood inside a cabinet, or needing to get builders in to facilitate access to repair said damage (either to remove panels / etc. preventing access, or to reinstate the condition of the surrounding area).

For this, in Christchurch, I highly recommend "Hot Water Shop"  (non sponsored shout out, just one happy customer). Not only did they make the whole process easy to get a new cylinder installed (and the house replumbed to work with an external rather than internal one) - i.e. they handled everything - but, they were also a pleasure to deal with (even coming out the next day - a public holiday - to help fix some old taps that had sprung a leak from the much improved water pressure...)

Nice Plumber Equipment:

Here's a bunch of effective plumbing kit that I've seen that look like they would be really nice to have.

1) Pipe / Leak Detector Sonar Gun -

2) Flexible fibre-optic camera-cable thingy - For probing inside tight spaces / pipes without having to demolish everything / create massive holes to do it

3) Rothenberger Ropump Super Plus  - - Forget toilet plungers. This thing looks like it can create some much stronger + more effective pumping forces

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