Reworking the Existing Plumbing and Replacing Brass Water Pipes with PEX Tubing

Project: Basement Finishing and Family Space, Episode 2, Part 2

Bob and Larry Janesky of Basement Systems review the work being done to cut a drainage trench in the concrete around the perimeter of the basement floor. Water will be channeled through the trench to a sump – dug at the lowest spot in the basement – where it can be pumped out of the home.  A triple safe power pump protects the home even if there is a loss of power.  Bob reviews the work done on the existing plumbing once all the waterproofing and flood-prevention measures are put in place in the basement. Al Leone of Leone Plumbing Corp. first cut the pipes into sections for easy removal and demonstrates some of the specialized work he does to install the pipe, including using oakum, a joint runner, and poured hot lead to form a joint seal. Old brass water pipes are replaced with PEX tubing, creating more headroom in the basement and the sink and laundry lines can be easily relocated.  Bob talks with Dan Driscoll of Rinnai about the new on-demand water heater being installed. The heater is a whole-house system sized for a three-bathroom household, laundry, and cleaning. An on-demand, tankless water heater saves basement space  and is energy efficient because it does not store hot water. Driscoll opens up the water heater to show how the system works. Once the water is turned on, sensors detect the amount of water being used and the temperature of the incoming cold water. The on-demand system is about 40% more efficient than gas-fueled tank water heaters and 70% more efficient than electric tank water heaters.


Part 1: Keep Water Out of the Basement
Part 2: Reworking the Existing Plumbing and Replacing Brass Water Pipes with PEX Tubing
Bob reviews the work done on the existing plumbing once all the waterproofing and flood-prevention measures are put in place in the basement. Al Leone of Leone Plumbing Corp. first cut the pipes into sections for easy removal. The cast iron pipe was cut and removed using a special pipe cutter. Bob explains that Leone is a union contractor who decided to go into business for himself. His helper, Matthew Orlando, is going through the apprentice training program through the Plumber and Gas Fitters Local Union Number 12 in Boston. The chapter spends $4,500 a year to put each apprentice through a thorough five-year training program where they spend two nights per week learning about everything from bathrooms to hospital gas work. Leone demonstrates some of the specialized work he does to install the pipe, including using oakum, a joint runner, and poured hot lead to form a joint seal. Leone then shows how some of the other seals are put in place in the pipe. Al Leone of Leone Plumbing replaces the old brass water pipes with PEX tubing in the Melrose basement project. Leone explains that the water hammer will be removed as it is so old it is obsolete. Leone cuts the pipes into sections for easy removal. The brass pipe dates back to when the house was built and is corroded and thin from years of use. The proper length of tubing is pulled and held in place by a bend support. Bob explains that by using PEX tubing, more headroom is created in the basement and the sink and laundry lines can be easily relocated. Kyle Tasse of Viega North America shows Bob the three different types of PEX: Pexcel for plumbing, Pextron for heating, and Fostapex for both plumbing and heating. According to Tasse, the advantage to Pexcel is the connection system that features a sleeve with an eyehole for double checking that the sleeve is securely on the tubing. The fitting holds the sleeve in place so that the lines can be dry fitted and attached later. Bob points out that innovative technology is exciting for do-it-yourselfers, but it is often best to hire a master plumber.
Part 3: Installing an On-Demand Hot Water System
Bob Vila helps a young family with an old house create family and recreational space for their active kids. Projects include replacement window installation, innovative plumbing solutions, and smart storage to make indoor and outdoor spaces ideal for this growing family.

Also from Basement Finishing and Family Space

  • Episode 1 - Removing Unwanted Junk and Combatting Basement Moisture


    <p>In Melrose, MA, a family with two young sons needs extra room and looks to Bob and his team to repurpose their damp basement for expanded living space. Homeowner Sarah Monzon shows Bob the backyard of the 1921 gambrel with a stone retaining wall they created to manage the slope for the kids&rsquo; play yard. She explains how the exterior has water intrusion and moisture buildup problems. Inside, Cyrus Beasley rips out the under-stair closet and assesses the stair support required while the plumber disconnects the old soapstone sink. The Monzons then clear out years of junk and demolition waste before calling 1-800-Got-Junk to stack, sort, and dispose of everything to donation centers, recycling sites, and the dump for a set price. Larry Janesky of Basement Systems reviews the exterior drainage problems of the home with Bob and then explains how they will reduce moisture on the inside. The crew breaks up the concrete floor to create an interior drainage trench, applies Clean Walls to isolate the stone walls and send moisture runoff to the drainage trench and sump, installs Thermal Dry radiant barrier behind finished walls to prevent moisture transfer, and creates a hole for the sump.</p>
  • Episode 3 - Moving the Oil Tank for New Heating, Cooling, and Air Filtration


    <p>Bob is in Melrose where John Ambrosino of Total Temperature Control installs the new heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. Because of clearance issues, the unit is installed horizontally and tied to the joists with steel rods. Ambrosino explains how the unit pulls air in for exchange, to be heated or cooled, then pushes it through a fan and into the ducts for circulation. The 16 SEER unit is very big for maximum efficiency, quiet operation, and up to 45 percent savings over current energy costs. Mark Hagan shows Bob the Trane CleanEffects whole-house three-stage air-cleaning system that cleans the air of 99.98 percent of particulates, filtering first for large particles, then charging the small particles and capturing them in a collection filter for healthy indoor air. Don Adams of Bond-Tite Tank Service shows Bob how they move the oil tank, reattach it, set it in a trough to catch leaks and drips, and apply Tank-Guard to isolate condensing water and prevent tank corrosion. Bob talks to Howard Brickman about how to control squeaking floors either by drawing the wood floor tight against the subfloor with screws, connecting blocking to the joists and subfloor from below, or shimming the space between the subfloor and joists.</p>
  • Episode 4 - Basement Finishing System and Custom Windows


    <p>The Melrose, MA, basement remodel enters the finishing phase now that the mechanicals, plumbing, drainage, and moisture-proofing upgrades have been completed. Sheet-metal tracks are screwed into the concrete floor and up into the joists as carriers for new steel studs that are trimmed and doubled up for a sturdy, moisture- and mold-proof framing system. The Owens Corning Basement Finishing System&trade; is installed using PVC lineals that allow for nail-free installation. These polyolefin-covered fiberglass panels are rated at R-11 for energy efficiency and may help save up to 25 percent of current energy costs. A suspended ceiling, trim, molding, and doors give the space a clean, finished look. The stairway is strengthened with posts drilled into the concrete and up into the stringer, and stiffened with plywood backing and reinforced tread-to-riser connections. Harvey Majesty custom, energy-efficient clad windows are installed once the old sash has been removed and voids filled with foam and caulk for a tight, efficient installation. As Bob learns about the costs associated with purchasing a total finishing system like this, Suzie Mitchell of Owens Corning explains that studies show 90 percent of the costs associated with finishing a basement can be recouped in just one year.</p>
  • Episode 5 - Exterior Upgrades for 1921 Gambrel

  • Episode 6 - Hardscaping, Removing Rot, and Fighting Insect Damage

  • Episode 7 - New Backyard Fence and Basement Half-Bath

  • Episode 8 - Basement Carpet, Storage, and Closet Design

  • Episode 9 - Low-Maintenance Landscaping, Gutters, and Pantry

  • Episode 10 - Stucco Painting, Exterior Repairs, Shutters, and High-End Decking

  • Episode 11 - Basement Moisture-Proofing, Home Audio, Blinds, and Appliances

  • Episode 12 - Exterior Lighting, Audio, Video, and Décor for the Melrose Home

Hi I'm Bob Vila, welcome to the show.

We've got a project underway here in Melrose, Mass refinishing a basement space.

We will show you some of the plumbing work we're doing down there, including how the pex tubing gets run around.

Also, basement systems, part of the water proofing, involves putting in a perimeter drainage system.

Also we'll be installing a whole house water heater from Rinnai, stick around.
When you're remodeling a basement space, one of the first things that you want to keep in mind is that you want it to be a dry living area, so last week we started looking at some of the problems this house has; water infiltration from the exterior is something that is a common occurrence when you have gutters, and when those gutters get dirty or when the conductor pipes get clogged, you have water logging the soil around the house.

So we've got water-shoots that have been installed at the base, at the bottom of each one of these conductor pipes to get rid of that water and let it just flow away from the house.

We also got other, smaller problems to deal with, which involve pointing up a chimney base, and things like that.

Then, on the inside, we've already dug a perimeter trench around the whole slab of this area, and today we're going to be looking at some of the finishing touches that go in there.

But behind me is a barrier, two types of barrier that were also installed last week, one of them in the finished space which basically acts as a moisture barrier but also as reflective so that it helps conserve energy, and then this one in unfinished space where in the area that will be framed off for equipment such as the water heater and the furnace.

This basically also keeps any moisture that tries to filter through the foundation on that side and it will actually drip down and into these channels.

Now, Larry Jenesky is over here and he's going to explain the rest of this installation. Larry, we're continuing with the... what's this one called? The waterguard?

The waterguard, right.

Yeah. And so that's the conduit around entire perimeter.

That's right.

So, what's he doing with the stone and stuff?

He's setting the waterguard to elevation and we backfill it with drainage stone to make sure that it's a proper elevation. It'll take all the water from the walls, from underneath the floor and drain it all around to the sump.

OK . So the crushed stone will hold it in place at the right level and pitch. What's this gizmo you've got right down here?

Yeah, this is called the waterguard port and We put this in for a couple of different reasons. One is, it's an inspection port, so you can see what's going on inside the system afterwards, after this is all concreted up.
But also, in this basement, we're going to be putting in a dehumidification system and it provides a good spot, if we knock this out, it provides a hole for the condensing line from the dehumidifier.

So you can have a three quarter inch line go right in there, for the condensate.

Right, right.

OK. Then let's talk about the most important component of the whole operation, I suppose, which is the sump.

Right, yeah. This is going to be a triple safe sump system that we install here. And this has three pumps in it so that, if one pump ever fails, we have backup pumps to take the...

The water out of here?

That's right. So that there's no risk of flooding from pump failure.

So what you have here is a wonderful little model.

Yeah. This is a model of that triple safe sump system and see there's three pumps.

This is your first pump, it's AC operated. This is your secondary pump, this is an AC backup pump, so if this one ever fails then this one will take over.

And those are both hard wired to the house electricity?

That's right.


And in some basements, they get a lot of water. So if one pump can't keep up with the amount of water in a big heavy rain, then both of these pumps will operate simultaneously to get over double the amount of water out.

But isn't the pipe, I mean, aren't you limited by the diameter of the pipe?

That's right, and that's why we have two different discharge pipes coming out of here.


And run them both separately to the outside.

I see, OK.

And then the third pump?

The third pump is a battery operated backup pump. So if the power goes out the water will rise to its operating range and that will automatically pump the water out off a battery power supply.

Excellent. OK, so we've got the lid on it and we're just adding more crushed stone to secure it.

But there's always going be some standing water in that. Isn't that a problem?

Normally it would be, but this sump system has an air tight lid on it, so that pool of water that's sitting there all the time doesn't evaporate.

So it can't evaporate back in, all right.

Yep, and we've also included an airtight floor drain in the sump lid. This way if there was a plumbing leak from any plumbing source in the house, it would run to this low spot and then run down this floor drain looks less watered down. But then the air cannot come up, because it has a cup and a check ball underneath that floor drain.

So, you've thought of everything.

We try.

What about if you run out of power and you go on battery power?

Well, that's important that the home owner knows that they are on battery power. So this is the charger box and control box for the battery back-up pump. And we are going to mount this on the wall up there .

And there's a loud alarm that sounds off when the homeowner is on battery power to tell them, hey you've got to restore these primary pumps before the battery goes dead.

OK, it seems like you you've thought about everything, but there's got to be some other potential problems down the line. I mean you're taking all the water that collects here up, and then through in between the ceiling joist to an outside location.

What about issues of freezing?

Yeah, that's an important issue, too. And we have a solution to that. They are called Ice Guard Fittings and we mounted them outside already.

Alright, so that the Ice Guard prevents any icing from occurring and forming all the way into the house?

Well, it doesn't prevent the discharge line from freezing underground outside. But what it does in the event that it does freeze, it has openings to allow the water to eject automatically out and away from the house so you never get flooded because your discharge line from your sump pump is frozen.

Excellent. It's an ingenious system. Thanks very much, Larry.

Thank you.

All right. Once the water proofing was completed then we had to worry about the existing plumbing and the waste pipes and stuff. Had to move a lot of stuff so that we'd have head clearance. Al Leone gave us a hand with that including the main stack here which he actually had to replace.

The first step in removing the kitchen drain is to cut into sections. That way, we can take it out of the hangers and down from the ceiling.

We need to replace this in order to get the new drains in the equipment that we're putting in. That's called the soil pipe cutter and it cuts, it's made to cut cast iron pipe.
There you go.

We're just going to cut this old clamp.

There's a stereotype that Union plumbers only do large projects. But actually, ours is a small union contractor from Peabody, Massachusetts, who decided to go into business for himself.

He 's been working with his helper, Mathew Orlando, who's going through the Plumbers and Gasfitters Local Union Number 12 Apprentice Training Program in Boston.

The chapter spends $4,500 a year to put each apprentice through a thorough five-year training program, where they spend two nights a week learning about every thing from bathrooms to hospital gas work.

Here they've been doing a terrific job updating what was basically a plumbing museum.

And it's brittle so it'll crack. The strength, the cast iron, is really in its vertical holding weight.

This is a two band clamp, the neoprene gasket, it's made of stainless steel. I'm using a torque wrench to apply the right amount of poundage to the clamp. One clicker, two.

The way that these joints are held together, we use lead and oakum, and oakum is basically hemp that's been soaked in oil, and we pack it inside the joint and we pour hot lead over it, which makes the seal.

The tool to pack it down inside the joint.
This tool is called a joint runner and what it does, it wraps around the joint and it keeps the lead from running out of the hub as you're pouring it.

This ladle holds about four pounds of lead and we melted a ladle full, and we packed half the joint with oakum. And the joint only took what it needed to fill.

Installing, they clean out the base of the stack which will allow access if there should be a clog. These clamps work by having a neoprene sleeve to provide the seal.

And the stainless steel clamp to tighten it against the pipe. And in this case a 4" X 2" wide, which will pick up the new kitchen drain. It'll be running along side that wall.

OK, we're gonna use a four band clamp on the old work, because the piping is a little, the old piping is a little thicker, and that way we'll have a better seal in between the new pipe and the old one.

We're going to demo these old brass water lines, so we're gonna replace them with Pex tubing all the way up to the risers. And we're gonna eliminate this obsolete water hammer as well. It's no longer needed.

First step is to drain the house down of any water, and then to cut the pipe into sections so we can take it down. This is the original brass tubing that was used when the house was built, and as you can see it' s very corroded and very thin, and it's always a good idea to get rid of it when you're doing any remodeling work, if you don't want this stuff breaking on you. We're running the new hex water line to the connections and we're gonna pull it so we have enough to get over to where we need to go.

We're gonna assemble a bent support to hold the pipe in place. The use of pecs throughout this job is making it easier to keep precious headroom, and really cutting down on the time it takes to do things like re-locate the laundry and update the old water lines

Viega is a manufacturer of Pex systems. We manufacture three different kinds of Pex. Pexcel for plumbing, Pextron for heating, and last, Fostapex.

Fostapex is a product with form stability. It can be used for both plumbing and heating. This product also is used in applications for radiant, as well as baseboard heat.

Today we're talking about the Pexcel plumbing system, and the big advantage of our Pexcel plumbing system with Viega is our connection system.

Our connection is simple, as we have this stainless steel ring with a sleeve with an eyehole in it. The eyehole is designed so that you can see that the pipe, the fitting, the sleeve is all the way on the pipe.

We then insert our fitting which holds the sleeve in place. So this system can be dry fit and then attached later, and pressed later

There's a lot of new innovative products that make remodeling an old house easier from the plumbing perspective. And a lot of do-it-yourselvers like to tackle it, but most of the time you're better off hiring a master plumber. Okay. So, we've got a water heater to talk about with Dan Driscoll. And Dan's an old friend, we've talked about these Rinnais before. This is for the whole house, right?

This is a whole house system, Bob, this is going to replace the tank heater that was in the house. This is a size for a 3-bathroom household. So, this will provide laundry, cooking, dishwasher, and bathing for multiple fixtures. It also has a feature, it's a cold start appliance, meaning it doesn't store water and it's very energy efficient.

Now, that's a very big deal in a small house, too, 'cause we're trying to capitalize on the basement space and if you had to take up an additional four square feet with a big tank, that would, you know, be a waste.

So, this really can do that, though. I mean, you're talking three bathrooms, and this is a three bedroom house, I believe, so she could have as many as six people needing to use showers and all that, and this can supply it.

This will allow the consumer to run multiple showers in a household at the same time indefinitely. Once we create flow, we're going to establish that flow and have that for a period of time. Unlike a tank heater which will run low on temperature.

Right, 'cause if you...

Exactly, so how does it do it? I mean can we look in there to see the components?

Sure, yeah.

'Cause it's a 5.3 you were saying earlier.

That's the flow rate on the unit itself.

That's the actual flow rate, 5.3 gallons per minute?

Correct, what we do is we measure the temp, then I will measure the water temperature on the inlet side . There's a controller here on the side, that was mounted on the side of the unit.


Which the home owner can set the water temperature at.

Mm-hm. Can that be taken remotely and put it in some other part of the house?

This could be mounted in a bathroom, in a laundry or a kitchen or a back splash...

Just grab that piece, I'll grab the other one. Pop the cover here.

So you could theoretically alter the temperature, for example if you wanted it hotter or cooler you could

Use that remote.

An application could be, if we have children in a bathroom I could drop the water temperature to a safe level where there will never be an issue of scaling.

Right. Ooh, they fit a lot of stuff in there, don't they?

Well, it's a little busy.

So, the water feed, let's say the cold water is coming in, we got to move the water service over to this location.


And then what happens in here?

What happens is,the cold water feed makes up on IPS connection right here. You need flow in order to initiate the burn, so we need half a gallon per minute in flow, which is about a 3/8 stream of water.

Very small volume of water. That would be established by opening a faucet or a bath valve or a shower valve.

Once the water enters the unit, it's going to be picked up by a SMS which is a temperature sensor and then also the volume of water. So it is measuring the volume of water and the temperature rise to what you selected for that operating temperature, then burner makes an adjustment same way a carburettor would in a car.

Where's the fuel?

The fuel is on a gas fit right here and this is our gas burner right here, it's below our heat exchanger. So the burner is below, the water travels through these pipes, through the heat exchanger. And this is our vent assembly, which goes to the outside for the flue gas.

OK. So, what about cold air intake?

We use a concentric vent, which is a two pass flue pipe, which allows us to bring combustion air in, it's sealed combustion and an exhauster with a center tube.

All right. So, this a sample of that?
Or this the actual one?

This is the termination lane that will be mounted to the outside.

So, our exhaust gas would be through this center tube and our combustion air would come in through this OD. Now the PVC is zero clearance from combustibles, so if I had a wood frame timber, I don't have to worry about set backs.

This piece here is what I would see on the outside of the building about two inches goes to the weather.

This is our exhaust port and this is our inlet air.

It's so simple. It's very compact. And it's a very, I mean, energy efficiency is a big deal. You're also saving money here, right?

Oh, this unit here with the typical gas consumption, is about a 40 percent savings.


Over electric about 70%.

Over electric it would be like 70%. Yeah, depending on your kilowatt rate. But in this area it's about 70%.

We're in New England here, it's not good.

Okay, thanks Dan.

Thank you, Bob.


Well, it's almost finished, but so we. Next week we'll be installing heating and ventilating and air conditioning equipment as well as teaching you how to fix squeaky floors.

Until then I'm Bob Vila. Thanks for joining us.



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