Planning Plumbing Routes Part 1 of 2

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The first, and perhaps most important, step when replacing old plumbing is to decide how and where to run the new pipes. Since the stud cavities and joist spaces are often covered with finished wall surfaces, finding routes for running new pipes can be challenging.

 

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Overview

The first, and perhaps most important, step when replacing old plumbing is to decide how and where to run the new pipes. Since the stud cavities and joist spaces are often covered with finished wall surfaces, finding routes for running new pipes can be challenging.
When planning pipe routes, choose straight, easy pathways whenever possible. Rather than running water supply pipes around wall corners and through studs, for example, it may be easiest to run them straight up wall cavities from the basement. Instead of running a bathtub drain across floor joists, run it straight down into the basement, where the branch drain can be easily extended underneath the joists to the main waste-vent stack.
In some situations, it is most practical to route the new pipes in wall and floor cavities that -already hold plumbing pipes, since these spaces are often framed to provide long, unobstructed runs. A detailed map of your plumbing system can be very helpful when planning routes for new plumbing pipes.
To maximize their profits, plumbing contractors generally try to avoid opening walls or changing wall framing when installing new plumbing. But the do-it-yourselfer does not have these limitations. Faced with the difficulty of running pipes through enclosed spaces, you may find it easiest to remove wall surfaces or to create a newly framed space for running new pipes.
On these pages, you will see some common methods used to create pathways for replacing old pipes with new plumbing.

From: The Complete Guide to Plumbing, 978-1-58923-378-2

What You'll Need

Tools:

drill
screwdriver
saws
demolition tools

Materials:

drill
screwdriver
saws
demolition tools

 

Step 1

Build a framed chase

Build a framed chase. A chase is a false wall created to provide space for new plumbing pipes. It is especially effective for installing a new main waste-vent stack. On a two-story house, chases can be stacked one over the other on each floor in order to run plumbing from the basement to the attic. Once plumbing is completed and inspected, the chase is covered with wallboard and finished to match the room.


Step 2

Planning Pipe Routes

Use existing access panels to disconnect fixtures and remove old pipes. Plan the location of new fixtures and pipe runs to make use of existing access panels, minimizing the amount of demolition and repair work you will need to do.


Step 3

Planning Pipe Routes

Convert a laundry chute into a channel for running new plumbing pipes. The door of the chute can be used to provide access to control valves, or it can be removed and covered with wall materials, then finished to match the surrounding wall.


Step 4

Planning Pipe Routes

Run pipes inside a closet. If they are unobtrusive, pipes can be left exposed at the back of the closet. Or, you can frame a chase to hide the pipes after the installation is completed.


Step 5

Planning Pipe Routes

Remove suspended ceiling panels to route new plumbing pipes in joist cavities. Or, you can route pipes across a standard plaster or wallboard ceiling, then construct a false ceiling to cover the installation, provided there is adequate height. Most building codes require a minimum of 7 ft. from floor to finished ceiling.


Step 6

Planning Pipe Routes

Use a drill bit extension and spade bit or hole saw to drill through wall plates from unfinished attic or basement spaces above or below the wall.


Step 7

Planning Pipe Routes

Look for “wet walls.” Walls that hold old plumbing pipes can be good choices for running long vertical runs of new pipe. These spaces are usually open, without obstacles such as fireblocks and insulation.


Step 8

Planning Pipe Routes

Probe wall and floor cavities with a long piece of plastic pipe to ensure that a clear pathway exists for running new pipe.


Step 9

Planning Pipe Routes

Once you have established a route using the narrow pipe, you can use the pipe as a guide when running larger drain pipes up into the wall.


Step 10

Planning Pipe Routes

Remove flooring when necessary. Because replacing toilet and bathtub drains usually requires that you remove sections of floor, a full plumbing replacement job is often done in conjunction with a complete bathroom remodeling project.


 
 

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