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Thread: Designing a new house, open panels to make repairs easier?

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member Derek S's Avatar
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    Default Designing a new house, open panels to make repairs easier?

    I am starting to plan to build a house. I want to make it easy to repair. The city requires sprinklers.

    I was thinking of suspended ceilings to make sprinkler repair easier. Also a few floor drains in case it goes off. Any drawbacks to floor drains? Do I have to pour a little water in them every week or two?

    How about having panels in a wall in or near the bathroom. One could open the panel in the wall if there needs to be repair of the pipes. Practical or silly?

    Also thinking of a floor drain by the water heater so it's easy to drain it. Otherwise, a typical homeowner may go 20 years without doing it.

  2. #2

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    I wouldn't bother with access panels. Typically, the systems only repairs are replacements of the sprinkler heads when they reach an age that the insurance company requires them to be replaced. Drains in the floors are good as long as you don't mind looking at, drains in the floors. Sprinkler heads cover a very area and unless, the floor is sloped to the drain it is not going to help much. As far as the water heater goes you can attach a garden hose and run it to whereever, the floor drain is.

    Don't you have enough of rain where you don't need sprinklers?
    Last edited by Cookie; 05-14-2011 at 09:54 AM.

  3. #3
    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    In the early days of indoor plumbing, few folks could afford it so for those that could they would often have the plumbers install the piping and mechanicals outside the walls so that they could show it off to other people. These days, we try to conceal as much of it as possible and thanks to PEX, that's probably a good decision. I wouldn't bother with access panels except for behind tub/shower valves. Floor drains are going to need trap primers on them and look kind of hokey in the middle of the living room carpet but I spose you might be able to train the dog to pee down them.

  4. #4
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Overkill. A sprinkler system, or most parts of the plumbing supply and drain systems, should have a life expectancy anywhere from 25 to 50 years. Going to any expense up front to make it all accessible probably does not pencil out. An access panel behind the wet wall of a tub of shower makes some sense, but many times bathrooms are "back to back" for economic reasons, so that rules out the access.

    In my opinion, spend your money on copper pipes, not on access to PEX pipes.

    Any floor drain today, by code, will require a trap primer, adding to the expense of install, and one more item to maintain. It is a good idea to have a water heater in a drain pan, with a drain attached! Ditto for a washing machine. In fact, some building codes today will REQUIRE such for any WM or WH located on upper floors of a building.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    quote; Don't you have enough of rain where you don't need sprinklers?

    When his house is on fire, it may NOT rain enough to put it out. Have you EVER seen a suspended ceiling which would look good in a residence?

  6. #6

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    It was a joke HJ.

  7. #7

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    But, it is raining here right now hard enough to put out the burning of Alanta.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    "It was a joke", is what the NFL player said after getting flak for saying he enjoyed the time off during the lockout.

  9. #9

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    HJ, I was referring to the amount of rain Seattle gets or that area of the country gets, as a JOKE, and you are an ass because of the statement you made.

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    DIY Senior Member dlarrivee's Avatar
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    Why would you need to pour water in your floor drains.

    Brand new home = trap primers for floor drains...

  11. #11
    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
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    I love the acess doors ideas. Why not? hardly any cost, and lets you know about those tiny leaks that cause mega mold down the road.

    I am building a house of all trusses now, walls and roof all together. The walls are over 12" thick, so innumerable niches can be built for storage and for access to components, manifolds, valves.

    I always design a linen behind the tub wet wall so you can pull it out and have full play with those valves that you always would like to see both sides of.

    How do you guys like it that the auto makers design the engine so that only a midget with 2 fingers, hanging by his toes can get to the 6th spark plug? Design your house to be maintenance friendly and be a step above the other dolt designers.

    Access to a sprinkler system is however, a bit dicy idea, and a drop ceiling will not sell well. I would at least use exposed heads, not the hidden ones.

    I always get a floor drain at the water heater, and a light pack of fiberglass works to keep outgassing, yet allows water to flow in an emergency. Or a cover of 1" foam, with a small weight on it that will float off in a flood. Or run a clean out to the water heater if its just for pressure draining.
    Last edited by ballvalve; 05-18-2011 at 10:04 AM.

  12. #12
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    quote; you are an ass because of the statement you made.

    And I guess the owner of the Timberwolves is also because he said he was "just joking" when he said the lottery was "rigged". But then I also said months ago, that if the Suns go into the lottery, "No matter what their position was, as long as the drawing was in Stern's office the Suns would get #13 or #14 because Stern has NEVER liked the Suns and sticks it to them anytime he can".

  13. #13

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    I do not think it was that hard for anyone to figure out that I was JOKING, HJ. I stand by what I said.

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