Category Archives: Plumbing

Garbage Disposals: Do You Need One?

If you live in Grosse Pointe Woods, you do.

We just failed a city inspection in GPW because the homeowners did not want a garbage disposal in their newly remodeled kitchen. Since 99% of people DO want a garbage disposal, we had never run into this issue before today.

My first thought was “who doesn’t want a garbage disposal?” But after some researching online, I found out that there are many reasons to go sans-disposal.

Sending your food scraps back into the waste water is costly to the system, and the grease from food causes plumbing problems in your home. But throwing away your food scraps and sending them to the landfill causes an increase in methane gas emittance which is harmful to the environment. The greenest way to dispose of food scraps is to compost them, and return the nutrient-rich results back into the soil.

After living for years without a dishwasher or a garbage disposal, I felt like a queen when I moved into my new house with both of these amenities. But I found myself overdoing it. I put such filthy dishes in the dishwasher that food scraps collected in the bottom and started to rot and smell. I shoved 12 jars full of homemade pickles (a failed experiment…I was trying to hide the evidence) down the garbage disposal at once, and broke it.

My advice would be to keep the garbage disposal, for convenience, for those times when you need it, but not to over-do it. In some cities, you have no choice. But if you don’t have one, don’t worry about it; you’re not missing out on much. Then, start a compost bin and turn your waste into nutritious food for the earth!

The A-Z Glossary of Home Remodeling Terms

Abatement
The encapsulation or removal of building materials containing pollutants (such as lead or asbestos) to prevent the release of or exposure to fibers.

Acclimation
The adjustment to changes in the climate or environment. Some materials may need time to acclimate before they are positioned in a kitchen or bath.

Accessories
Additional cabinetry items such as overlays, moldings, etc to enhance the appearance and quality of a project. Also includes towel bars, soap dishes, hardware, etc.

Apron
Trim attached below a tabletop or window sill

Backsplash
1)The portion of the exposed area between the bottom of the wall cabinets and the top of the countertop. 2) Also, an elevated section of counter material approximately 4″ high typically part of the countertop. Backsplashes are necessary to prevent water from seeping into the seam between the counter and drywall.

Banquette
A built-in table with chairs in an alcove.

Barn door
Hardware that allows the door to slide along a wall. Useful when a pocket door is too costly or not possible.

Base cabinets
Cabinetry used on the floor to provide countertop support and typically is 34 ½ inches tall and 24 inches deep.

Bearing wall
A wall designed and placed in a position to hold more of a load above it. Usually around the perimeter of a house and in strategic locations to support floor, ceiling, and roof beams.

Casing
An enclosed frame around a door or window opening. Also called trim.

CFM
Cubic feet per minute; used as a measure of the amount of air a fan can move

Chair rail
A trim piece that runs horizontally on a wall at the height of a chair back and is used to make the transition between a wainscot and upper wall. Originally used to prevent damage to a wall from the backs of chairs.

Crown Molding
Crown molding encapsulates a large family of moldings which are designed to gracefully flare out to a finished top edge. Crown molding is generally used for capping walls, pilasters, and cabinets, and is used extensively in the creation of interior and exterior cornice assemblies and door and window hoods.

In recent times, crown moldings have generally made their appearance as mostly decorated plaster or wooden trim where walls meet ceilings.

Clearance space
The space required for a safe and clear use of an appliance, cabinet doors and safe passage.

Color temperature
The color of the lamp itself as compared to the color of a black reference substance when heated to various temperatures Kelvin, and the effect the lamp color has on the color of an object being illuminated by it. Or an index of how the light source itself looks to us, measured in degrees Kelvin (K).

Compact fluorescent (CFL)
A type of fluorescent lamp with the fluorescent tube coiled into a compact shape in a size similar to an incandescent bulb.

Compartmentalized bathroom
A bathroom where individual activities, like toileting or showering, are separated by walls into individual compartments.

Concealed hinge
A hinge that is attached to the door and the inside end panel or stile of a cabinet, making it not visible from the exterior of the cabinet

Construction plan
A drawing that shows both the existing conditions of the structure and the changes to be made to achieve the design

Dormer
A structure built atop a roof to increase the usable space below or to contain windows. A window set vertically in a structure projecting through a sloping roof

Energy efficiency
Ratio of energy output of a conversion process or of a system to its energy input.

Farmhouse Sink
A deep sink that has a finished front. Set onto a countertop, the finished front of the sink remains exposed. This style of sink requires very little “reach-over” to access the sink.

Gable Vent
Vent openings mounted in the top of a gable of a house to allow the exchange of air in the attic.

Grab bars
Safety bars installed in bathtubs and showers to prevent falls. A device, usually installed on a wall, that provide support while rising from, sitting in, entering, or exiting a bathtub or shower.

HVAC
Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning.

I.L.T. (Integral Light Technology) Grilles
Grilles are permanently bonded to the inside and outside of your window glass. Nonglare foam spacer in between the grilles casts a realistic shadow like individual windowpanes would. Creates the most authentic look of true-divided-light windows.

Island
An area of cabinets and countertops which can be accessed and walked around from all sides. Considered free standing.

Laminate
Any thin material such as wood or plastic glued to the exterior of a cabinet, countertop or other surface.

Lazy Susan
A corner cabinet on which the shelves are mounted on a vertical axle such that items may be retrieved by pushing on the shelves to turn them may also be called a lazy Susan. This type is usually found in kitchens. Closed, this type of lazy Susan appears to be two normal cabinets at right angles to each other. When pushed on, the cabinet “doors” reveal the shelves, which are circular except for the ninety degree cutout where the doors are mounted.

Lead time
The time between when a product or item is purchased to the actual delivery date.

Linoleum
An all natural flooring material made of linseed oil, cork dust, wood flour, tree resins, ground limestone, and pigments; regarded as environmentally friendly flooring.

Low-E (Low Emissive)
Glass that reflect heat, not light, and therefore keeps spaces warmer in winter and cooler in summer.

Molding
An embellishment in strip form, made of wood or other structural material, that is used to decorate or finish a surface, such as the wall of a room or around a door or window

Muntin
A small vertical or horizontal strip that divides window panes from each other.

Oil-Rubbed Bronze
The Oil Rubbed Bronze finish is a chemically darkened surface designed to simulate aged bronze. This finish is very dark and varies from a deep chocolate brown to a dark gray and usually has copper undertones.

Particle Board
A panel product made from sawdust or wood particles, bonded with a resin under high heat and pressure.

Partition Wall
A wall that separates rooms, or divides a room. Partition walls are usually not load-bearing. Partition walls are constructed of many materials, including steel panels, bricks, blocks of clay, terra-cotta, concrete, or glass blocks.

Pedestal sink
A free-standing fixture with a wide top and narrow base that conceals the plumbing.

Pendant
A lighting fixture hung from the ceiling containing one or more lamps.

Peninsula
An area of cabinets or counter fastened on one side which can be accessed and walk up to on three sides.

Picture Rail
A horizontal trim piece installed high up on a wall as a means of hanging pictures without puncturing the wall with nails or brads.

Pocket door
A door that slides horizontally on a track and is typically moved inside a wall for storage.

Powder room
A small bathroom for guest near the public areas of the home. Consists of a sink and toilet.

R&R
Remove and Replace. A term describing simple remodeling project that involves removing and replacing cabinetry, fixtures and appliances without structural or mechanical changes.

Radiant Heating
An efficient heating system that warms cold objects, which then radiate heat into the surrounding space evenly.

R-Value
A measure of the thermal resistance of material, especially insulation.

Sconce
A light fixture that is fixed to a wall.

Scope
The sum of the products and services to be provided as a project.

Sheetrock™
A brand of drywall that is itself often used as a term for drywall.

Sight lines
The range or visual field in direct line with a person’s eyes, impacted by the position a person will be in when the space or product is being used. This is useful in planning heights of fixtures, fittings, lighting, windows, and more.

Sill
The portion of the door or window assembly at the bottom or floor, including the fixed and movable parts of the window or door and the fixed portion of the building into which the window or door mounts.

Site Plan (Mortgage Survey)
A drawing prepared to scale showing the placement of a proposed building(s), location of existing structures, and other lot development features — setback measurements, driveways, fencing, landscaping.

Soaking tub
Extra deep tub that allows the user to submerge to their neck.

Soffit
A lowered portion of a ceiling. The horizontal surface below the eave. A porch roof. The under surface of a lowered portion of the ceiling. A “bulkhead” in Canada. An enclosed area used to fill a space between the tops of the wall cabinets and the ceiling.

Solid Surfacing
A class of rigid surfacing materials made of acrylic and/or polyester resins mixed with alumina tryhydrate.

Studs
Framing members of the wall, usually 2x4s or 2x6s which the cabinets are fastened to.

Subcontractors
Contractors who will work specifically for another contractor or design firm

Sub-flooring
The flooring applied directly to the floor joist on top of which the finished floor rests.

Task lighting
Added lighting for specific tasks, like grooming, dressing, reading, etc. Lighting focused on an work area.

Toe kick
An indented space in cabinetry near the floor to accommodate the feet while standing next to a cabinetry.

Tongue and Groove
A method of fitting similar objects together, edge to edge, used mainly with wood, in flooring, parquetry, panelling, and similar constructions. Tongue and groove joints allow two flat pieces to be joined strongly together to make a single flat surface. Each piece has a slot (the groove) cut all along one edge, and a thin, deep ridge (the tongue) on the opposite edge. The tongue projects a little less than the depth of the groove. Two or more pieces thus fit together closely. The joint is not normally glued, as shrinkage would then pull the tongue off.

Traffic Patterns
The normal walkway or passage a person would go from one place to another.

Transom
A horizontal window set above a door or other windows.

Underlayment
A material placed over the subfloor plywood sheeting and under the finish covering to provide a smooth, even surface. A non-structural sheet material installed on a subfloor to provide a stable, level and smooth base for the floorcovering.

Updraft ventilation systems
A kitchen ventilation system that includes a hood over a cooking surface to capture the air borne by-products of cooking and a fan to pull air up; captured air is either exhausted to the outside or filtered and re-circulated into the room, depending on the system

Vanity
Bathroom cabinet with the sink on top.

Vapor Barrier
Any material used for damp proofing, typically a plastic or foil sheet, that resists diffusion of moisture through wall, ceiling and floor assemblies of buildings to prevent interstitial condensation.

Vessel sink
A sink bowl or basin that sits on top of the counter or ledge.

Wainscoting
An application of wood paneling up to the middle or lower half of a wall

Work Triangle
The distance between the three primary work centers (cooking surface, clean-up/prep primary sink, and refrigeration). Ideally between 12 and 26 feet in total length.

Source: Many of these definitions were obtained from the NKBA.

The Switch to a Tankless Water Heater

After the Great Flood of 2014 left our basement filled with 2+ feet of water, our water heater no longer functioned.  We went over a week without hot water (I showered at friends and family’s houses, Grant braved the cold water) until finally the day came when my dad and uncle (Dave & Rob Kopke) had time to come over and install a new one.  Even though we knew the insurance wouldn’t cover the upgrade, we opted for a tankless water heater because of their many benefits.

The first and most important benefit to us was that the new water heater would be mounted on the wall – higher than the water line.  This will prevent damage to it if we ever had another flood of the same severity, as well as clear up some space in the basement.  The second, and certainly not overlooked, benefit is the energy efficiency.

I had previously never thought about it before, but standard water heaters are in a sense a big pot of boiling water. They keep the water boiling all day, just in case you happen to need it.  That is like putting a pot of water on the stove in the morning because you are going to make spaghetti when you get home from work.  What a waste of energy!

Tankless water heaters heat up water only when it is needed.  And instantaneously!  You don’t have to wait for the water to heat up, and even if you have 7 dwarves showering in succession, you would not run out before Snow White had her chance to clean up.

View the Gallery Below to see the Step by Step:

 

Basic Plumbing Concerns During a Kitchen Remodel

Remodeling a kitchen can transform the look and feel of the entire of home if it is done properly. It is easy for homeowners to get caught up in the excitement of choosing new tiles and finishes, but valid plumbing concerns can often be forgotten or overlooked in the process. While some kitchen remodels are simple and only involve new finishes, others can be more complicated and include relocating sinks and refrigerators, which can require the handling of pipes and plumbing. A professional plumber can advise the homeowner on the best course of action to ensure that their new kitchen not only looks as good as possible but meets all the current code requirements. Depending on local laws, homeowners may be legally required to hire a professional plumber to handle all of their plumbing work.

Some homes, especially older ones that have not been remodeled in a long time, may still have outdated materials. Replacing those pipes and materials with newer versions is a job that may be best left to a professional who is aware of the current legal standards for plumbing materials in a home. Pipes are made of many different materials and which ones to use can be a tricky decision that the average homeowner may not know. A professional will be able to inform the homeowner of any outdated materials or leaks that have gone undetected. Discovering a hidden leak without the assistance of a professional could be problematic and result in a higher cost of repair for the homeowner, as well as delay any remodeling until the plumbing issue is repaired.

When making the decision to remodel a kitchen, rearranging the basic fixtures such as the sink, stove and cabinets can seem like a good idea. Relocating such major kitchen fixtures can actually require serious and involved work that should be left to a professional. Pipes will need to be rerouted and moved completely to accommodate the new location of the sink. If the stove is being moved, the ventilation system will likely need to be adjusted to work with the new location. A professional will be able to ensure that the new kitchen is properly ventilated and meets all local code requirements so that it can pass an inspection.

In almost all renovation situations, plumbing and electrical work must be completed before any of the new finishes are brought in. Hiring a professional plumbing company to handle this will allow the homeowners to start decorating their new kitchen in a short amount of time. Allowing a professional to handle the details of the plumbing work can also allow the homeowner to choose which of those new finishes they want in their new kitchen. If the kitchen is being completely redone, there will be a lot of decisions to make regarding cabinets, counters, and tile work. While a professional deals with the pipes, the homeowner can have fun making the choices that will contribute to the finished product and create a new look for their kitchen.

Since the kitchen is one of the most used rooms in the entire house, it is important that a family likes the style and choices that went into creating the overall look. While remodeling can be exciting and fun, leaving the technical details to the professionals can save homeowners a lot of headaches and trouble. A professional can come in and often alert the homeowner to possible problems that will arise during the process of the remodel. Knowing what to expect and being prepared can make the process go much more smoothly if problems do arise. Once the remodel is finished, it will be easier to enjoy the new kitchen with the knowledge that all of the intricate plumbing work was handled by a professional who had the knowledge and tools to complete the job.

This post comes from Aew, who is hard at work planning her next kitchen renovation. She consulted RTL Plumbing in Brisbane when concerned about any plumbing issues or possible interactions with the plumbing. Aew expects her brisbane home and kitchen to be finished in the first quarter of 2014.