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Retrofitting a bathroom plumbing system

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Although the bathroom is generally one of the smallest rooms in the house, it is filled with a lot of internal parts. And most of those parts are hidden behind the walls and in the floor. The most significant of these elements are the parts that bring water in and the waste out. These working parts are part of the whole-house plumbing system and what make bathrooms so unique.

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In new construction, a plumber arrives to a house in it's raw stage; no wallboard, old pipes, or previous retrofitting. This makes his job fairly simple, run the new supply and waste lines per the plans in a space that has been designed to house a modern plumbing layout. In a remodel, especially in older homes, the plumber has to deal with obstacles such as difficult framing, old rooms not designed for new systems, and weathered pipes that may not be located where they need to be. In these situations, the plumber has to decipher the roadblocks and create a system that will service the needs of up-to-date building codes and fixtures.

In the accompanying photos, Andy the plumber embarks on a journey deciphering what was originally installed and what a previous remodel had modified. His work begins after the walls have been stripped of old finishes. First he removes the old system. Because the room is over seventy years old, a structural engineer had to prescribe specific locations where holes could be drilled. This required him to defy plumbing logic by weaving pipes in and out of wood members. Therefore, when embarking on a total retrofit of an old bathroom, it's not unusual for the plumber to spend twice as much time as he would if working in new construction.

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