As a new homeowner, I can tell you that things aren't always as simple as they appear. I started thinking about it a few years ago, and I realized that there were some serious problems with our plumbing system. We had issues with drains working correctly and toilets flushing like they should, so I started focusing more heavily on understanding the basics of our plumbing system. Within a few short months the entire system was operating more fluidly because of a few changes that I made, so I wanted to create a blog all about my journey. Check out these articles to learn more about the plumbing basics.
While there are many things you need to be concerned about when building a brand-new home, plumbing should be at the top. Not only can leaks and other plumbing issues do significant damage to the home—costing thousands of dollars to fix—they can make it very challenging to sell the home to someone else down the road. When it comes time to install the plumbing and associated appliances in the home, here are three things you should make sure are present.
Accessible Water Shut-Off Valve
If you choose not to have a basement in your home, then building in a crawlspace is an excellent alternative. They're a good place to hide pipes and other building "guts" required for a well-functioning home but that you don't want to be seen inside the house. However, one thing you absolutely should have place inside the home is the main water shutoff valve.
When activated, this valve cuts off the water flow to the entire home, which is necessary for some repairs or when there's an emergency. Although it may be more aesthetically pleasing to put the valve in the crawlspace or some other out-of-the-way place, it's best to make it as accessible as possible, especially if there are people in the home who have mobility issues that will make it hard to get into a small area like a crawlspace.
This doesn't mean you have to put it in the middle of the hallway wall. Even placing it in the back of the kitchen pantry will do as long as it can be reached when needed.
Hookups for a Water Softener
Another thing you should have installed in your new home are hookups for a water softener, even if you have no plans to purchase one. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, although you may not have a problem with hard water, that can change with time. For instance, if you switch from well water to municipal water or vice versa, you should end up with a hard water problem. This can also occur if your city changes its water supply (e.g. the crisis in Flint was caused by the city switching to a different river).
Second, setting up connections for a water softener can increase your home's attractiveness to future homebuyers who may be concerned about how climate change may affect water quality. With the connections already in place, it's one less thing the person will have to worry about should they need to get the appliance for any reason.
Safe Water Heater Location
Lastly, the water heater should be placed on the lowest floor possible in your home and preferably in a place where it would cause the least amount of damage if it leaks. For example, if your home will have a basement, place the water heater in a utility closet on that level.
As noted previously, water leaks can cause an immeasurable amount of damage to the home, and water heaters are a common source of flooding. You want to make sure the appliance is in an area where the damage will be minimal if it springs a leak.
One thing you can do to minimize the damage is to set the water heater on top of a drain pan that's been connected to the sewer system. This way, water from any leaks will flow out of the home instead of soaking your basement floor. Alternatively, you can have a sump pump system installed nearby you can turn on to quickly pump water out of the area when needed. Be sure the discharge line for the sump pump is placed as far away from the home to prevent back flooding.
For more suggestions on configuring the plumbing and appliances for your new home, contact a local plumber, like one from Ben Franklin Plumbing Services.