So, I've been playing with cob house designs on paper (looking to get land this summer to start collecting materials for building next season), and I realized I have very little clue on how to plumb and wire the house. I was wondering if any of you kind folks have come across some detailed guides that explain the do' and don't's, and maybe, perhaps, a guide on how to plan it all out on paper.
I will answer any direct questions you may have. I would recommend strongly a "wainscot system," or some other planned access system to the mechanicals. This aids in alteration, upgrade, and repairing the systems easily in the future. Pipes and wires buried in walls or floor is a common practice and a poor one at best.
Danielle Richardson wrote:I knew nothing about plumbing and electrical but we did it by researching it on the web it really isn't that hard take one step at a time and learn about each thing l found the family handyman helpful
Any links you'd recommend? I'm looking at a place that has a natural pond that's stream fed on a hill, and I'd like to integrate it to the cob house somehow.
I think the best guides to understand the basics of conventional grid tied systems are the $20-30 books you generally find at the big box hardware stores. They 'll generally approach the subject graphically and after explaining the basics they go into diy projects.
If you need any more information then generally youtube is your best bet for seeing how things work. And if there are any diy projects youtube will probably still be a great stop to review before installing your systems.
If what you want isn't conventional, getting someone with experience can make things much easier. I unfortunately don't know alternative resources to point you at if you want to go down that route other than Art Ludwig's Oasis with Graywater.
Vermin Ennans : Just a few words to Share about U-Tube, While there are some people out there who post quality videos Series to U-Tube, Much of what you can
find is CRAP !
Watch out for Single posts- ''I just did this !'', videos that are old, out of date with no comments, very old comments, negative comments, or "Blocked Comments''!
when you see those, the Original Poster has gotten dissatisfied with his old toy and has moved on -chasing the next shinny Bauble !
Too often We talk with someone about their experiences and hear '' yah i tried that once'' '' watched a u-tube video and built one, it didn't work! its some kinda scam''
A quality post has a series of related videos, recent postings where the author is explaining fine points, and generally good comments from people who tried it and
like it, a few negative comments are expected ! For the Good of the Crafts ! Big AL !
Success has a Thousand Fathers , Failure is an Orphan
I've done a light clay-straw house which is somewhat similar to cob w.r.t. plumbing and electrical.
For electrical, it is fairly easy to rough-in the electrical before the walls are infilled. Most of what we used was underground feeder "UF" cable which is meant for soil contact (building permit/inspector required in our location). You can make a groove in the wall material after the walls go up (but before plastering), but in most cases that creates additional work. It may be necessary to do this when there aren't any posts nearby etc. You can also have the rough-in cable long enough to reach its final location and place it in the cob as the wall is build (along with the junction boxes).
For plumbing, it is best to avoid putting water or waste lines in an in-fill wall material. The vent stacks can go in the in-fill without much risk since they should never be filled with liquid. Putting the water and waste lines in frame walls or buried is the safest route. Even if your plumbing work "shouldn't leak" - plan as if it will.
The most important thing to know about plumbing, is proper venting. Everything with a drain (sink, toilet, tub, etc.) Must have a vent within a foot or two (depending on drain size) of the drain. If it is not properly vented, air will bubble up from the drain, as water is going down. Or in the case of a toilet, it will not drain, or will frequently get stopped up and overflow.
Most vent pipes are 2 inch, except the main stack (toilet) should be 4 inches. Each fixture must have a vent pipe on the drain near the fixture, and the vent must run up above the height of the highest fixture (so one fixture doesn't drain into another), at which point they can all be connected in your attic so there is only one vent going through your roof, a 4 inch main stack. All horizontal runs should be sloped so that any rain water entering the stack from above the roof (or backed up sewage) will always flow back down so it doesn't block the airflow after a rain.
If you study the code, there are some shortcuts you can take, but follow these simple rules and you'll be safe.
You can draw up your plan and take it to the plumbing supply place to buy parts, and they will probably have a plumber working or shopping there that can point out your mistakes.
Vermin, I haven't built in cob or straw bales yet, but I have lots of experience, commercial and residential, embedding electrical wiring and water supply lines in concrete, foam, and other walls and floors that one would hope never to have to cut, dig or chip into to get to the problem wire or tubing. For these situations I use either smurf tube (ENT - electrical non metallic tubing) or pvc conduit. Yes, it adds costs to the job, but having the ability to easily install wires or tubes, or pull out the wire or tube and install a new one, is a huge benefit. I have loads of stories where I was called back to jobs to upgrade wiring or replace damaged wires, being able to pull an old wire and install a new one in minutes, usually leaves the customer in awe and results in tons of great referrals.
ENT is waterproof (if installed correctly) and pretty easy to work with, is available from the big box stores, and is not terribly expensive (especially if you do the work yourself). if you have to join pieces, don't use the snap connector, use a pvc conduit connector, and glue it like you would pvc. this gives waterproof connection. If you use pvc conduit, realize that if it is buried underground, it will probably end up with water in it eventually! Not really a problem as the thhn wire you would run thru won't be hurt. One trick I would recommend is to chamfer the inside of the end of straight ends of the conduit, including sweeps, this will help immeasurably when running a snake thru the conduit. I have a 1.5" 4 bladed 30 degree bit that fits in a cordless drill that does a great job. Or use a "electrical mouse" or a piece of paper towel tied onto a string with a shop vac.
One thing most people hate to hear is that most water supply systems installed today will not last "forever", or sometimes even close to the life expectancy of the building. I do a fair number of repipes, so I can attest to that statement. I have spent loads of time debating with other builders, plumbers and product reps about the "best" available materials, right now, it's PEX and Stainless Steel. I have snaked pex through smurf tubes buried in concrete, or underground - works great and can easily be replaced. Just make sure you don't have real tight bends!
A word to the wise - make sure you pressure test your DWV system, including vent stacks! I know you will be told other-wise (especially on vent stacks) - I have a job right now with a sewer gas smell in a small brand new house. I will be doing the pressure test myself, while the owners are living in the house. So, even though there is no pressure, unglued joints, or other screw-ups happen, and having sewer gas smell in a new house is a major bummer!
Forgiveness is easier to obtain than permission
Diego Footer on Permaculture Based Homesteads - from the Eat Your Dirt Summit