Notes from Windward: #67


Bringing Water to Bay 5

starting wet work on the last section

  February 6:

     The dining hall's basic structure is what's known as a "pole barn" in that treated 6x6 posts stand on concrete pads three feet down in the ground, and then rise up to support the roof. One advantage of this design is that the walls are not considered to be "load bearing" and so you can put windows where you please, or use unconventional materials such as straw bales to fill in between the posts.

     The dining hall's structural design broke down into five areas, or "bays." Work proceeded from the eastern-most bay westward, and so we refer to the areas as Bays One through Five.

an old picture of the dining hall before Bays 5 & 4 were closed in

     Bay 4 was added to the dining hall's working area a year ago, and now that the heart of winter is past (fingers crossed as I type), we're starting the process of doing the internal work on Bay 5. A key part of that involves bring water from Bay 4 into Bay 5 where it will serve another three sinks (never can have too many sinks), feed the on-demand propane water heater and supply the dining hall's toilet and shower room.

     Our water system is gravity driven and lacks the pressure that would be needed to force adequate water flow through the usual 1/2" pipes used indoors, so we're continuing to use 1" pipe to bring the water supply at full flow into Bay 5, routing it up and over the door to the point where it will divide to supply the work sinks in Bay 5 and the shower, sink and toilet in the bathroom in Bay 4.

adding a union to the line

     The first step was to uncap the existing water line, and install a union before taking the water into Bay 5. It's easy enough to keep screwing pipe into fitting into pipe as you go, but that can pose problems down the line in that then there's no way to take the line apart and do modifications or repairs. A union allows one section of the pipe to be disconnected from another when needed.

     The line had to be kept close to the wall in order to by-pass the legs that hold up the stainless-steel sink, but once through the wall, it needed to jog north into the next compartment before heading up to pass over the door. If we were really good at this, we would be able to specify just how long each section should be and have them cut and threaded all at once, but we're not. So for us, the surest way is to do a bit, measure a bit, install that and repeat as necessary. Takes a bit more time doing it that way, but it has the advantage of wasting a lot less pipe.

  February 7:

     Added the next section of 1" pipe which included a reducing tee about halfway up the wall. A reducing tee is one in which the flow-through openings are full size, but the opening that's perpendicular to the flow is smaller; in this case, it's a half-inch thread that will take a faucet to supply the washing machine that's going to be installed in Bay 5.

running pipe up the wall

     The concept is to have a washer and drier that's reserved for the cook during meal prep times. That way the person who's cooking lunch will be able to get some laundry done at the same time. There's probably no more honored work at Windward than the task of preparing the noon meal, the one daily event that brings everyone on site together, so anything we can do to facilitate the kitchen crew's work is a priority.

  February 10:

     Next task involved bring the cold water pipe over the door. In order to fit the 1" pipe back into the wall, notches needed to cut out of the 2x6 studs that formed the wall. This sort of wall is called a "wet wall" and is usually built with 2x6s instead of 2x4s so that there's extra wood that can be cut away so that pipes can be routed through the wall without unduly reducing the strength of the wall.

cutting notches out of the 2x6s for the water pipe

     A reducing tee was installed to feed the on-demand water heater (that's it just to the left of the door) and then the pipe continued on to the end of the wall. A reducing tee has 1" openings on each end, but a 3/4" opening in the middle.

another section in place

  February 15:

     Another 90° fitting, another 32" length of pipe, and the main cold water truck was completed with an even more bizarre reducing tee that entered with a 1" opening, but which exited with two 1/2" openings. One of the reason that I enjoy working through Red's Trading Post is that he does a lot of salvage work, and thereby has access to all sorts of unconventional fittings like that one.

the 1" line ends in a special reducing tee

     From this end point cold water will be served to the pot sink, the handsink, the toilet and the shower, which is the reason for going through the effort to lay and route the larger pipe through to the end. Since we use a gravity fed water system, we don't have a booster pump driving water through the pipes at forty pounds of pressure, so it's sensitive to drag caused by too narrow a pipe.

installing a hose patch in order to test the line for leaks

     In order to test the cold line for leaks, we installed a temporary connection using a length of 1/2" hose between the ending tee and the 1/2" line that will serve the toilet and the bathroom sink. With that patch in place, it was time to throw the valve and check for leaks.

a test guage at the farthest point of the water supply shows a satisfactory pressure of 23 psi

     A quick check that the supply valve for the toilet was working, and this job is a wrap.

a test of the supply shut-off valve for the toilet is the last step

  February 17:

     Actually...not. I got ahead of myself when I declared this job finished because we hadn't checked out the hot water line to make sure that none of those joints leaked. This is the time to find out because a leaky joint is easily fixed at this point, but it's really not something you want to have to deal with once the sheetrock's installed.

hooking up the cold water line to the hot circuit

     All that was required was to disconnect the 1/2" hose from the cold water pipe and connect it up to the hot water pipe. The pipe turned out to be just fine, with no leaks at all, but no regrets...better to make sure now than have to redo later.

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 67