Upstairs plumbing finished!

I took last week off work, so I got 7 days of work in. This is exactly what our upstairs project needed to get over the hump. Since we’re expecting a baby in July, we are feeling a new pressure to get upstairs finished. Our 4 bedroom house has effectively been 2, since we gutted the upstairs before we moved in and didn’t even start working on it until a year ago. Last January we certainly didn’t think that we’d still be working on it a year later, but you know how those things go!

This is our first experience with PEX (polyethlyene) water lines, and I gotta say that I am hooked. While I associate copper with “quality” plumbing, the difference in labor and effort is massive. To run copper from our basement to the new upstairs bathroom would have been a monster project. Lots of joints in tight places for both the hot and cold lines. With the PEX, I was able to run both lines as single, continuous piece. With copper I would have inevitably ended up with a leak somewhere in the middle, forcing me to drain the line and repair it while trying not to set the house on fire. With this stuff I just uncoiled it and fed it through joists and up our closet chase and up into the bathroom.

PEX lines in new 1/2 bath, along with partially completed vent:

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Drain line in closet and in basement:

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Maze of pipes at mini water heater. I always vow to keep it simple, but my plumbing always ends up looking like this. I’m addicted to shutoff valves, since they make it so easy to work on future projects, such as the future basement bath remodel. Now I can just work on the new pipes without having to shut off water to anything else. That’s a big deal after you’ve spent entire days without a toilet or shower because the water had to be shut off. The 2nd picture shows one of the PEX lines connected to the copper. There are 2 varieties of PEX connectors, the “official” ones that’d be used by a plumber and require a $100 crimper (or $200 if you’re working with 2 sizes) and the “Joe Homeowner” ones I used. They are pricy (about $5/connector), but they’re really cool to use. You literally just plug the pipe into it. It’s that simple. And if you have to change something later, you can pull back a spring-loaded clip and pull the pipe back out. I can’t imagine anything easier than that!

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2 thoughts on “Upstairs plumbing finished!

  1. I am planning on having the top of the “box” behind the wall be openable for just that reason. I built the box to make it easy to run the supply and drain lines without having to notch out all the studs. Even though the connectors are supposed to be reliable, I agree that it’s always a good idea to make it easy to get to possible failure points without having to rip open walls. Thanks.

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