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Newsletter #247

Plumbing Bathroom

May 2006 Home Page

Special Report - Plumbing & Bathrom Basics



  1. Introduction
  2. The Basics–Types of Systems
  3. Conservation and Seasonal Tips
  4. Bathroom Basics
  5. Basement Bathrooms
  6. Summary
  7. Thought for the Day
  8. Subscriptions/Removal Instructions

All past newsletters are archived online at:



This month our newsletter is all about plumbing basics and basement bathrooms. We cover the different types of plumbing systems, the components and planning/installation tips. As always, we provide links that will provide more information and references to assist with the planning and installation of all of your plumbing in your new home and also we’ll say a few words about basement bathrooms.

Our newsletter is oriented towards new home construction and environmental savings. However, when it comes to plumbing basics and installing bathrooms in basements, many existing homeowners will also find this newsletter useful, as well.

The first reference listed below in the useful links section really does an excellent job of covering all the basics of plumbing and provides a video tutorial that easily explains the basics of plumbing systems. If you are working with your home’s designer or architect and feel that you are not well informed about plumbing, this is a good place to begin.

Plumbing systems must deal with two basic aspects. The first is the intake of water from the street or well and the distribution of water throughout the house, including any outdoor sprinklers. Water must be delivered to all areas of the house that will require it, such as bathrooms, the kitchen, the laundry and outdoor taps. The second area is the removal of wastewater and material from sinks and toilets, as well as the laundry to public sanitary systems or to a septic system on your property. They are really two different systems; they are designed differently and use different materials in their construction. Planning of your new home regarding your plumbing system is very important to ensure that you have water were you need it; that there are no unwanted smells from waste water; that you have good drainage; and, that expansion at a later time is easily accommodated. This is particularly important when you refinish your basement, add a bathroom or kitchen in the basement, or add an extension on to your home. More on that later…

In addition, in the summary section of this newsletter, under useful links, we have listed a number of the web sites that we found to have interesting and helpful information regarding the selection, planning, and installation of plumbing systems, and in particular, basement bathrooms. You may want to utilize these references, as well as the ones that are specific to each section of this newsletter.

Some Useful Links:

Plumbing Basics

Plan Your Basement


The Basics - Types of Systems

In this newsletter, we are not going to repeat all of the information that you can find in the links we have provided. There is a great deal of material available, and the details can be reviewed on these links. Suffice it to say that there are two fundamental systems – the water supply system, which includes all of your sinks, laundry, kitchen, showers, water heater, pumps (for well systems) and even outdoor watering systems and – the drain/waste/vent system, including vents to the roof and septic systems, if you are not attached to a city sanitary line.

The distribution or water supply system is usually based on copper pipes; however, increasingly builders are opting for CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride), since it is cheaper and easier to install. The water supply system is usually connected in the basement with a water meter to measure the amount of water that is used by the homeowner. The water meter also acts as the interface point between the home system and the city water system. The drain waste system is usually PVC and removes all of the wastewater to your septic system or the sanitary line provided by the city. In both cases, there are standard building codes that must be followed in your region, and your plumber should be knowledgeable about these requirements and install your plumbing system accordingly.

One of the most important items about plumbing basics is planning. Obviously, plumbing systems need to be extended to all of the rooms requiring water and removal of water. However, routing pipes and access to pipes at key points are important for future needs, when adding a bathroom in the basement, for example. In addition, ample use of shut-off valves means you can isolate a break in a water line or an appliance, such as your dishwasher, without having to shut off the entire water supply.

Planning a basement bathroom is optimally done before the house is even designed. The location of your basement bathroom will determine what pipes are placed under the concrete floors, so that the basement bathroom can be roughed in, i.e., waste disposal pipes are placed under the concrete and surface through the concrete in the desired location. Water supply pipes can also be brought to the general area at the time of initial construction, with appropriate caps or shut off valves.

The link that we’ve provided, below, provides an excellent narrative about both types of systems; the intake, as well as the removal of wastewater. Although you may not do the plumbing work yourself, this reference provides an easy read that will provide you with the basic information you will need to cover all aspects of dealing with the plumbing associated with your home and discussing your needs with the architect or the plumber.

Some useful links to check out

Water Supply System



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Conservation and Seasonal Tips

Right now, you are probably more concerned about your new home’s construction than things like conservation, seasonal tips, etc., however we consider these items as part of plumbing basics and part of the regular maintenance of your home’s active plumbing system. The links below cover a number of these areas, and readers are encourage to read up on these areas.

Consider designing your home’s plumbing system with toilets that use a minimum of water; water saving showerheads and faucets; and, if you are adding a lawn watering system, make sure that there is a timer so that you can water the lawn when evaporation is minimal.

During each season of the year, there are maintenance items to look after, which also can affect the design of your plumbing system. For example, homeowners in colder climates need to have an inside shut off valve on all outside water taps. In some states and provinces, a special tap is mandatory for all outside taps. These taps will shut the water off from inside the home and allow the outside section to naturally drain. Either way, before it gets cold, make sure your inside tap is shut off and the outside portion drained of all water!

Water heaters are often placed near the furnace. It is essential that flammable items are kept well away from the water heater to avoid any potential fire. Hot water pipes leaving the hot water tank can be insulated to reduce heat loss and provide a fast warm-up in the shower. When you are selecting the size of your water tank, your plumbing store can assist you. If you have a large home with a large family or people who take long, hot showers, then you will definitely need a larger water tank. Drain water from the bottom of the hot water tank, at least, annually to remove any sediment that has built up. Locating a drain close to your hot water tank makes this task very easy.

We have covered a number of areas in this short section. For more details please reference the links below.

Useful Web Links

Roto Rooter - Conservation

Roto Rooter – Seasonal Tips

Rotor Rooter – Plumbing in Your Home


Bathroom Basics

Most bathrooms, whether in the basement or elsewhere involve: setting toilets, installing sinks, connecting sinks, hooking up a tub or a shower or both, and connecting tub/shower water lines for both the water supply, as well as waste or drain pipes for the waste water. Planning of these basic elements is important, since they determine where you will need to run all of your pipes, including venting pipes to the roof for the waste water system to avoid bad odors from the drains.

All drains need to be connected to a vent pipe that usually exits through the roof and allows the air to equalize and any exhaust gases from sewage to vent through these vents instead of into your home. If you ever smell bad odors from your sink, etc., then make sure that your vents are not plugged.

In addition, there are prescribed electrical codes for bathrooms, and in particular, all electrical outlets that are to be located near any water source. Consumers should ensure that their bathroom designs for plumbing and electricity meet all local building codes, the Ontario Electrical Safety Code, bylaws and permit requirements.

Useful Web Links

Plan Your Basement

Installing toilets

How to Information about Plumbing

Basement Bathroom

Now that you know the location of your basement bathroom in the basement, and it is planned in conjunction with the rest of the basement living areas, there are a number of other considerations to take into account. It has already been roughed in or will be when your home is built. Next, you will need to plan how much space will be required for all of your fixtures:

  • Bathtub, or shower, or both
  • Sink: vanity sink, pedestal sink or some other design
  • Toilet, and possibly, a bidet
  • Cabinets and storage for towels and other bathroom necessities
  • Lighting fixtures that take into account that there are no windows
  • Bathroom exhaust fan to exhaust moist air and avoid mildew buildup

Assuming that your basement is below grade and all connections to both water intake and sanitary connections have been roughed in, as per your house’s building plan, you can then follow the standard installation for all bathrooms. Many homes in the northern U.S. and Canada will have a full basement, and sanitary connections are well below grade to avoid freezing in the wintertime.

There are situations where the basement, and in particular, the toilet and drains from sinks, etc., are below the sanitary lines. These homeowners need to deal with raising all fluids, including toilet waste up to the level of the wastewater or sanitary lines. Up flushing toilets can be purchased for this purpose.

There are three different types of up flushing toilets: up flushing toilet, self-contained sewage pumping system and the third system actually sits in a hole in the floor so that you do not have to raise the toilet above the floor. More information can be found about these types of toilets in the links provided below. One important thing to remember is that not everything can be up flushed, so if your system gets plugged you have a real mess on your hands!

Useful Web Links

Basement Bathrooms

Upflushing Toilets

Planning Your Bathroom



Plan and arrange to install all necessary plumbing when your home is built, even if you do not plan to utilize these connections, initially. A good example of this is the basement bathroom, which many people add later on, along with a finished family room and/or bedrooms in the basement.

There are two major systems associated with plumbing in a home. The water distribution system, consisting of all sinks, laundry, toilets, showers, bathtubs and outdoor connections for watering the lawn, etc. The second system removes waste material from all of these elements. City dwellers, typically, will connect up to city delivered water and sanitary systems. Rural dwellers will connect to a well, with some form of pumping system, to provide water and pressure and a septic system to handle the wastewater.

Basement bathrooms can be installed in the same manner as any other bathroom with a few wrinkles. Since there are no windows, an exhaust fan is usually a good idea to handle the moisture, and special arrangement may be needed if your basement bathroom is below the level of the sanitary lines. Up flushing toilets may be required to lift the waste material up to the sanitary lines.

Readers can browse the following web sites for more details.

Useful Web Links

Plumbing Basics

Plan Your Basement Bathroom

Basement Bathrooms

Rotor Rooter – Plumbing in Your Home

Water Supply System

Installing toilets

How to Information about Plumbing

Roto Rooter - Conservation

Roto Rooter – Seasonal Tips

Upflushing Toilets

Thought For The Day

"Arguments might make you win situations, but not hearts. So next time you indulge in them, before going any further just ask yourself - what is more impartant, the situation or the person?" - Anonymous


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