Airing our dirty laundry: Chapter 3, Water Works and E-lec-tri-ci-ty!

We’re back with another installment of our dirty laundry (and, hey, while you’re here, we have a few clothes that need folded and ironed, so anytime you want to get to that would be great).  If you’re just joining us, then you know that we have a Laundry Room that needs some serious functionality injected into it as in, an IV of functionality, STAT!  We’ve already tackled hanging some much needed storage cabinets and now we’re onto plumbing so we can install this gorgeous sink and faucet, and a wee bit of electrical work so we can do some under-cabinet lighting!  Brace yourselves, this could get a little technical!

The Water Works

Allow me to introduce you to this weird….”thing”….in our laundry room:

Drain stub sticking out of the wall

What is this plumbing related "Thing"?

…from day one of living in this house, we both thought, as cute as it was to have a weird “thing” in our wall, it might be a little cooler to have an actual “sink”.  I mean, we can’t really use this “thing”, can’t decorate it, can’t take it for walks….ya know, it’s pretty much useless.  So what precisely is this “thing”?  Turns out the “thing” was a capped off drain-line, that was already run for a sink!  So we were already part of the way there, with the sink drain almost in the right place.  Then, there were existing hot and cold lines about 3 feet to the left of where we needed them for the sink, so that was pretty close too.

Ok, quick plumbing lesson for everyone our there in blog-land – if you have a sink, a toilet, shower, or washer on one wall, then there’s plumbing in that wall.  And if you have plumbing in a wall, it’s pretty easy to route off of existing plumbing and do what you want with it rather than to have to plumb new, ESPECIALLY if you already have hot/cold lines running in that wall (i.e. if it’s only a toilet or a refrigerator, running the hot will be a bit more work because you obviously don’t need a hot water line to flush a ‘loo – just sayin’).  If you have to plumb brand new, just do yourself a favor and hire a plumber to take care of all of that for you – trust me, you’ll thank yourself later!  And while you’re at it, thank ME for helping YOU!  Muwahahah….

A’ la Alton Brown, the  hardware for the task:

  1. A saw capable of cutting CPVC, ABS, and PEX — I actually used two saws for the job, a hack saw and a jig saw, depending on the the pipe diameter and how much room around the pipe I was cutting.
  2. Something to cut the drywall.  I used an old drywall saw I got from L’s grandfather’s tool box a couple of years ago, but a utility knife, your fist, and persistence could work too.  I suggest the drywall saw.
  3. A stud finder.

And the software:

  1. About 10 feet of 1.5 inch PEX tubing suitable for drinking water.
  2. Gator Bite (I’ve also heard them called shark bite) connections: 2 T connections, 2 right angle connections, 2 shutoff valves.  I love these things!  More on why below …
  3. Water supply lines.
  4. Combo-Tee ABS junction for the “new” drain.
  5. A new transition for the ABS drain/vent pipe.
  6. Drain trap attachment to the ABS drain pipe.
  7. ABS compatible pipe cement

The very first thing you have to do is TURN THE WATER OFF!  To the whole house.  Trust me.  Just do it.  Don’t go cutting into drywall you think has water lines behind it without turning the water off as a precaution.  I hope I don’t have to spell out why that can be bad news!  One thing to keep in mind is that any connection that is inside the walls MUST have a permanent connection.  As in, no screw-on attachments on these steps!  The next thing you know, you’ve patched up the drywall, turned on the faucet, and a couple months down the line when the “screws are loose” you’ll have a whole mess of problems!

Drain Install:

I started by cutting holes all over the place so I could see what the existing plumbing was actually like.  Fortunately, the room was already set up for a sink (see referenced “thing” above), but it was just the wrong height!

I made a mess ...

My "access" holes. By the time I was done, there was even more drywall missing.

First, I cut out a small piece of pipe where I wanted to put the new drain about 18 inches off the floor.  I started by using the hack saw, and when it got too crowded for me to keep using it, I took the blade out and just used my hands (wearing gloves, of course).  It worked MUCH better than I thought it was going to!  Then I replaced the cut out “thing” Combo-Tee with a reducer coupling and installed a new junction lower on the wall for the sink drain.  After those two pieces were cemented together, I added the white end cap (also cemented) that can be screwed to a standard sink trap piece.  To cement the pieces together, follow the directions on the back of the pipe cement bottle.  Looking at the picture, you may wonder why there is a pipe going up AND the pipe going down.  Well, the down-ward leading pipe is the actual drain (where the water goes), the up-ward leading pipe is a vent that goes up to the roof.

On the left is how I cut the pipe, holding the hacksaw blade in my (gloved) hands. On the right is after I cemented on the comp-tee and the screw-on drain attachment

Water Line Install:

The next part was running the new water lines.  Now, our house is plumbed with CPVC pipe, which I really don’t like.  It’s kind of hard to work with because the lines are not flexible and it’s relatively easy to crack CPVC (which means they can leak if you make a mistake).  For these reasons, I decided to run the new lines using more flexible PEX pipes so it would be easier to snake the lines through the wall to the new location.  Luckily, you can buy Gator Bite connectors that can join CPVC to PEX (or even ABS) — these things are AWESOME!  Instead of struggling with pipe cement (or using copper pipes and literally playing with fire), the Gator Bite connectors slip on, and don’t let go.  They’re dead simple to install, and they’re good enough to put inside the walls.  I started by cutting out a 1/2 inch from both the hot and cold lines and joining the cut-out piece with the T junction.

Pic of the water lines, partially installed, using Gator Bites

Cut off a 1/2 inch piece of the CPVC water line, and installed a tee to run the new water lines.

Then I visualized where I wanted the new water lines to snake through the wall and drilled the necessary holes in the studs to snake the water lines through, and put those in too.  Finally, I put an elbow on the end of the line and the shut-off valve a few inches later (the shutoff valve is outside the wall).  After everything was connected (and the shut-off valves were OFF), I turned the water back on to the house.  Slowly.  Make sure to check for leaks BEFORE you patch all the drywall holes you made.  I’m glad I did!  The tee I installed on the hot water line leaked when I turned the water back on.  It was a simple matter of re-checking the connection (even though the Gator-Bite connections are dead-easy to use, I didn’t quite push one end on far enough, so it leaked), and then retesting.  But if that had happened AFTER I had patched the wall, I would have been in big trouble, especially when my wife got home!

Pic of the whole plumbing job.

Ran the water lines over to where I needed them. Notice how the PEX tubing can actually bend a little bit? Also, notice how I had to rip off the base-board to clean up the leak ....

E-lec-tri-ci-ty:

The last thing I did was run electricity to a new plug I installed on the inside of the cabinet for the under-cabinet lights.  I ran the power for the plug through a switch next to the existing switches in the room so I could turn them on and off.

Hardware:

  1. Steel wire pull (to snake wire through the wall).
  2. Wire stripper/snips

Software:

  1. About 20 ft. of wire
  2. New outlet (GFCI because it will be fairly close to a sink) and box
  3. New switch and box

Just like the plumbing, turn the power off BEFORE touching anything having to do with the electrical work!  I’ve been electrocuted before (hrmmm….that explains some things …), and aside from the weird tingly feeling it’s not something I’d like to repeat!  I started out by running the line from the new switch (next to the two older switches on the wall) down the wall, across the perimeter of the room, then back up the other wall into the cabinet.  While that was easy, it was also W-R-O-N-G (ralizing this might have had something to do with watching an episode of Holmes on Homes, my favorite Canadian Contractor, but I’m not sayin’).  It’s too easy to put a nail through a wire that is on the outside of a stud, and the wire ran right under the new plumbing I just put in.  Water + electricity = NO GOOD CAN COME FROM THIS.  After realizing my mistake, I ripped the old wire out and ran the wire UP into the attic (right along with the existing wiring) and over to the wall.  Once there, I drilled a hole in the wall header and dropped the wire down to the cabinet and installed the outlet.  Once that was done, it was a simple matter of attaching the lights to the under-side of the cabinets and running their plugs to the new outlet!

Mood pic of the under-cabinet lights

The new under-cabinet lights on the left, and the new outlet hidden inside the cabinet.

So now we can actually sort our blacks from our navys and install a sink, a definite laundry room must!

Now…..we wait for the floors to come in!  Sadly, there was a delay in ordering our floors (there’s always a delay when you do major room makeovers, so just hold your horses).  We are hoping to get those in the next couple of weeks and when we do, you can bet your bottom dollar we’re going to be doing the happy dance to get those installed just as soon as you can say “bend over and I’ll show ya!”  Lots of time crawling on our knees in the future….le sigh….

Want to see our other installments of the Laundry Room makeover?   Well, then click here for Chapter 1 and here for Chapter 2!  Stay tuned for floor installation and then the final installation of lower cabinetry later in the summer!

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7 thoughts on “Airing our dirty laundry: Chapter 3, Water Works and E-lec-tri-ci-ty!

    • Thanks, Patti!

      Dr. J did most (if not all) of the work! In fact, I think most of what I did encompassed holding the ladder, grabbing a wire or two, and getting sprayed in the face with his “test water” mechanism! HA HA! But it’s certainly starting to come along! Thanks again!

      xoxo,
      L-blogger

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