a Straw Bale House: Today I wanted to talk about
plumbing a straw bale house. Water is a big enemy of
straw bale houses. I usually hike on Saturdays and blog
Sunday mornings, but last night my cat Alien was bit
by a rattlesnake.
those of you who have read the book, this is the
same kitty who showed up at the wall-raising. He
is now a large, strong, very handsome Maine Coon
who rules the house (and the mice that venture onto
the porch). I'm just here to open the door, dish
out catfood and get the fur off the furniture. Last
night, he came in with a swollen paw, making growly
noises, and I thought he had sprained it. We have
a vet in the area who is open evenings, so I took
him over there and as they shaved his paw, we saw
four fang marks, two bites, inside his front paw.
He got anti-venom last night and I am waiting for
a call from the vet to tell me I can pick him up
this morning. He's 11 years old now and one tough
kitty, so I'm sure he'll be fine.
back on the topic of plumbing. Straw bales can handle
water that gets on the outside of a bale and has a chance
to dry off. But you don't want water to get to the interior
of a bale and stay there, with any chance of turning
to mildew or mold. Straw disintegrates into black powder
if it mildews. I live in a dry climate, so I don't have
to worry about water that might splash onto the bales
from the outside - it will dry off quickly. Our humidity
is often below 10 percent. But since we need to plumb
a house and plumbing brings a chance of water leaking,
we have to be careful on plumbing choices.
solution is to plumb through the floor. I know many
people do that. The solution that I used and was recommended
by Jon Ruez, is Pex plumbing. This is the type of plumbing
that has been used for radiant heated floors for quite
awhile and it is becoming more common as a means of
regular plumbing. It consists of a manifold with hot
on one side and cold on the other, then many valves
to which you attach thick plastic tubing. The tubing
goes all the way to its outlet - a faucet, shower or
wherever you need water, so there are no joints in the
walls. Joints are where you get leaks. Also, we ran
most of the tubing above the walls, along the top of
the roof plate, to get across the house. Then, we only
had to run it down the wall to the fixture.
is a picture of the pex manifold. The blue valves
are cold and we labeled each one with the name of
the faucet to which it goes. You can barely see
the other side with red valves - that's the hot
side. The big blue thing is from the days when I
had a hot water heater and needed an expansion tank
in case the water over-heated. I now have tankless
and solar discussed in March 13 blog. A couple
things I like about this type of plumbing are that
it was incredibly easy. Without joints, we just
ran the tubing across the house, securing it every
four feet. We didn't have to measure to each corner,
put in a joint, etc. Also, I can easily turn off
the water to any faucet, if needed (well, sort of
- see below).
thing that makes Pex difficult is that you need a special
crimping tool to secure the fasteners at each end of
the tubing. The tool is expensive to buy or rent. Maybe
that has improved over the years, but I still think
it's worth it. The joints on this manifold are made
of plastic and they break too easily, also. Many of
them have not been moved in the ten years since I built
the house and they are pretty stuck now. I hope Pex
has improved their manifolds. But I still think it's
a great plumbing system.
you have other questions (my kitty came through fine)
- send me an email - email@example.com.
it Simple - and be kind!