We’re taking a step back from framing the first floor and shifting to mechanicals. Specifically, getting the new boiler installed in the basement. I met with Lester, our radiant heating guy, on Wednesday and we walked through the plan. I got the requirements figured out for the boiler install and we’ll be working on getting those items ready over the next month and a half.

The first step in the process is the gas line. We need to provide gas service to the new boiler, and given the state of the existing plumbing, it was time to start over. We modified the gas plumbing about a year ago to eliminate the runs along the beam in preparation for the steel beam. With that done, there were still two runs from the meter at the front of the basement to the back. One went to the existing steam boiler and then to the water heater and stove on the second floor while the other went to the gas dryer. It went through byzantine twists, multiple unions, and a frustrating lack of valves. It was time to replace it all.

Putting in all new plumbing meant I needed a plan. I came up with a simple main trunk and branch design that would service all future gas appliances. To determine the sizes needed I added up the distance from the meter to the furthest branch and the total input btu of all appliances. Then I used gas pipe sizing charts to arrive at 1¼” for the main line, reducing to 1″, ¾”, and ½” at various junctions. With the plan in place I worked through the basement, measuring distances and coming up with every pipe length and fitting I’d need.

If I was to do this again I’d recommend going to a plumbing supply store. They sell the more obscure fittings, like reducing tees in all sizes, inline reducing tees, 1¼” street 90s, and on-site pipe cutting. Because I went to a big-box store instead, I had to re-plan in the store, winding up with a lot more fittings, and every junction is  potential leak. In any case, I got home and immediately realized I’d forgotten to buy the straps to attach the pipe to the ceiling. D’oh! I went back, bought the straps, and then laid out everything on the floor and discovered I had gotten a reducing tee by mistake (it was in the wrong bin).

Yesterday morning I ran back to the store and bought the correct tee. I got started removing all of the existing pipe, except for the run up to the stove on the second floor. Then I connected the existing water heater to the branch that went up to the stove, making a single segment that could be removed at a later date.

New gas line

New gas line

Dean and Sarah’s dad, Mike, arrived and we set to work putting in the new plumbing. The new trunk runs along the beam, just as the original line did. We got about halfway down (at our second tee) and realized that my measurements hadn’t properly accounted for the size of the couples and tees. We needed a shorter piece of pipe to line up properly and our pipe threader only went up to 1″ pipe. Mike ran back to the hardware store to get it and Dean and I worked on putting the remaining branches together.

Tie-in to existing stove and water heater

Tie-in to existing stove and water heater

Mike got back with the missing pieces and we got the remaining branches in. At the end of the trunk we ran a line to the dryer using existing pipes and fittings. Someday that branch will be removed and in its place we’ll put in a line to the back deck for a natural gas grill.

Removed pipe and fittings

Removed pipe and fittings

After requisite leak and pressure testing, we only needed to tighten a couple of unions. Everything was looking good. We re-lit the pilot on the water heater and headed upstairs for some burgers cooked on the gas stove. A big thanks to Dean and Mike for their help!

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