We are nearing the point where drywall will be installed. Over the past few weeks, it has been interesting to watch how the plumber and electrician have threaded the components of their respective systems between the various wall and floor joists, eventually to be hidden as the drywall is installed. Along with the HVAC system described in my last post, the water supply & waste pipes, and the electrical wiring & outlets form the critical networks needed to deliver conditioned air, fresh water, and accessible power necessary to make the house livable.
The plumbing system is composed of three main sub-systems, the supply, waste, and vent systems. Once the roof had been installed the vent and waste drain pipes, which work together, were added. Most people have a good understanding of the purpose of water supply lines and drains. Something that may not be so apparent is what the vent pipes do for the plumbing system. The waste pipes, of course, are connected to the various drains and toilets. Vent pipes, which protrude thru the roof, work in conjunction with the drain pipes by allowing air into the system. Without this air, both the supply water and the waste water would not be able to flow freely. This concept is the same as if you suck water into a straw, then put your thumb over the top of the straw to create a vacuum that holds the water in place. Only when you remove your thumb and allow air to enter will the water flow back out of the straw.
Once all the pipes were installed, a pressure test was performed to ensure all the supply lines are certified to operate at the 100 psi standard needed for connection to the water utility. Additionally, the drain pipes and bathtubs were filled with water over a period of several days to ensure there were no leaks. Later in the construction, the septic system and drain field will be installed, and the water utility will be connected.
At first the electrical installation looked like a spiderweb of different color and gauges of wire running all over the the place. On top of that, all of the light fixtures, switch plates and wall outlets had to be placed by a combination of what the local building code requires and some personal requests we specifically had. Some examples of the customizations we requested include a 50 amp circuit in the garage (in case we purchase an electrical vehicle sometime down the road); a 30 amp rapid connect outlet that is wired to a separate sub-panel to connect a portable generator (in the event of an extended power outage); some floor outlets in the living room; and wiring to power some speakers on both porches and in the kitchen.
Once all the wires were connected to the outlets and switch boxes, the electrician did a phenomenal job of bundling wires for a neat, professional installation. All of these wires terminated at the dual electrical panels located in the basement. Outside, the main electrical meter box was installed. All that is left to do is the connection to the power utility. Whenever that is done, power to the house will run from the roadside distribution line up to the house site. Since the line will be buried, this entails boring under the roadway, then trenching up the side of the driveway to the meter box.
Now that the interior electrical work is largely complete, the next major milestone is the hanging of the drywall. But, before that can be started, insulation was added to all the exterior walls and sloped ceilings. After the drywall is installed, the rest of the insulation above all the flat ceilings will be “blown in” to the proper R-value based the climate zone chart depicted below.
Overall, we are very pleased with the quality of construction we’ve seen thus far. The builder and all the sub-contractors clearly take pride in their work. Eventually we will be the benefactors of their quality effort when we move in… hopefully sometime in the next 5 months!