PEX Testing and Interior Walls

First Tiny House Shower!

First Tiny House Shower!

July 27, 2015

I have running water in my tiny house! I actually have running water in my tiny house!

I had a particularly spectacular day working on the tiny house today. Seriously, it went really well. I can’t remember the last time I have enjoyed working on my tiny house as much as I enjoyed working on it today. I think it helped that I did not run into a lot of problems. However, I think it also helped that I started employing a new technique for dealing with all of the problems my tiny house generates. My new technique is to keep a list with me and write down any problem that I encounter as soon as I encounter it. Yesterday, that allowed me to almost immediately let go of whatever problem I ran into, knowing that it would not be forgotten and that I could come back and solve it some other time. By the end of the day, it almost became a game to try to find problems that I could put down on my list just so I could forget about them.

The other thing that was really great about yesterday was having Andrew come down to join me. We made a lot more progress together than we would have if I had been working by myself. Plus, it’s just kind of nice to have company. I’m kind of amazed that after a year and a half, Andrew is still willing to come down here and help me so frequently. It’s a real blessing and more than I deserve.

In the morning, before Andrew arrived, I went over to the tiny house and spent a couple of hours attaching all of the 12 volt wires to the fuse box. The main objective for all of this was to get the water pump hooked up to the fuse box so that I could finally pressurize all of the waterlines and see if all of my PEX connections would hold. I have been putting off this test for a few days because I was kind of afraid of how I might react if I sprung a leak somewhere. However, I felt good enough this morning that I thought today might be the day to give it a try. However, I still put it off until the very end of the day.

Sheila Building Wall Between Bathroom and Living Room

Sheila Building Wall Between Bathroom and Living Room

Completed Bathroom Wall

Completed Bathroom Wall

Andrew and I spent most of the day building interior walls together. Two days ago, Sheila and I built the wall that goes between the bathroom and living room. Today, Andrew and I built the walls that go between the shower and the kitchen and between the toilet and the kitchen. After we framed the walls, which did not take very long, we then added 1/4 inch plywood sheathing to the inside of the wall between the shower in the kitchen with plywood. This will create a nice flat surface that I can later glue my FRP shower panels to.

Starting To Frame Remaining Interior Walls

Starting To Frame Remaining Interior Walls

Shower Wall Sheathed

Shower Wall Sheathed

The wall between the toilet and the kitchen was a little bit more complicated because it included a built-in pine shelving system for the bathroom. The nice thing about that project was that unlike just about every other project I have ever tackled on my tiny house, it actually ended up being easier than I thought and when I was done, looked even better than I expected. That’s a very unusual combination. I think it helped that I spent a lot of time over the last few days carefully planning out all of the interior walls, so I pretty much had everything thought out. I think it also helped to have Andrew’s second set of hands to hold things in place while I nailed them together. I’m not entirely sure why everything came together so well on that wall today, I’m just glad that it did. I’m still kind of amazed that something so easy to cut up and nail together could look so good.

Framing the Shelving Unit

Framing the Shelving Unit

Andrew Nailing Shelving Together

Andrew Nailing Shelving Together

Nailing T&G Pine to Back of Shelving

Nailing T&G Pine to Back of Shelving

Completed Wall

Completed Wall!

With all the walls completed, the next thing to do was to drive them over to the tiny house. We loaded them all into my leaf (I had to leave the hatch open) and took them over to the RV parking lot where we unloaded them into the house. Although it would have been fun to stand them up, I realized that before I did so, I really needed to test my PEX lines. Once I set the walls up, our space would get much more restricted and it would be harder to deal with any kind of problem we encountered.

Final Shower Connections

Final Shower Connections

Before I could test the PEX line, I had a few more last-minute connections to make. Specifically, I had to cap off the lines coming through the wall for the kitchen and bathroom sink, since they are not attached to any kind of fixture yet. I also needed to add one last PEX line from the shower manifold to the shower head. Luckily, all of that only took about 30 minutes. Then it was time for the big moment. I connected my battery to my circuit breaker panel, said a little prayer and flipped the switch for the water pump. My 12 V pump immediately hummed to life with a loud brrrrrrrp, brrrrrrp, brrrrrp. This went on for what seemed like 5 minutes, but was probably only about 30 seconds before the system reached its desired pressure and shut itself off automatically. Andrew and I cautiously looked around the house, waiting for something to explode and water to start spurting everywhere … and we waited … and we waited. And nothing happened. Every single one of my PEX connections held! We could not find a drop of water anywhere. I could barely believe what I was seeing. How was it possible that I was turning on my water pump and testing my PEX lines for the first time without any kind of new problem manifesting itself? Given my experience to date with tiny house construction, such a thing seemed virtually impossible. I felt like I must have been dreaming.

I will admit that we did find one very small leak. It was in the shower head attachment that I just installed a few minutes earlier and it only showed up after we turned on the shower. That leak ended up being due to the shower head simply not being screwed in tight enough. That was a relatively easy fix. We shut off the pump and depressurized the system by opening one of the sink valves and draining the water into a small container. Then, we redid that connection, adding a little bit more Teflon tape and making sure the fitting was tight. After that, we were able to pressurize the system again and actually run the shower. We only ran it for a few seconds, but it worked. It actually worked!

I really can’t describe how good it felt to have a successful day like this. I’m not sure I could have handled yet another day of tiny house construction misery. I understand that a project this complicated always comes with unexpected problems and that it’s rare to have a day when everything just goes right. However, the universe handed me one of those days today and it sure was nice.

Favorite parts of the day:

  • Seeing Andrew again after several weeks and spending the day building together
  • Standing up and admiring the bathroom wall we had constructed with a built in shelving system
  • The Vietnamese sandwiches that Sheila brought us for lunch
  • Turning on the water inside my tiny house for the first time!
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4 Responses to PEX Testing and Interior Walls

  1. Joan Freed says:

    Excellent and well deserved success and satisfaction, Russ.
    And I love this ; >>My new technique is to keep a list with me and write down any problem that I encounter as soon as I encounter it. Yesterday, that allowed me to almost immediately let go of whatever problem I ran into, knowing that it would not be forgotten and that I could come back and solve it some other time. By the end of the day, it almost became a game to try to find problems that I could put down on my list just so I could forget about them.<<
    Isn't it amazing how much larger and larger and LARGER problems can become when we hold on to them? I know this is true for me. And, when I can remember, I also find that writing them down allows me to set them aside, and let go to worrying that I will forget about them. And, perhaps even more importantly for me, this allows me to step away – sometimes only a little, sometimes a lot more than a little – from worrying that I can't solve them. And then, this letting go/setting aside/stepping away typically allows my powerful inner k/Knowledge to assist me in finding my solutions. I can also forget all this in a heartbeat. Thanks for another reminder !

    • Thanks for the comments, Joan. I totally agree with the “powerful inner knowledge” thing. I’m always amazed at how well God/the universe is able to provide me with answers to even the most complicated problems if I’m willing to step back, be patient and let those answers just come to me. I’m also amazed at how frequently I have trouble letting go so that can happen.

  2. Jay says:

    Hey, are those hose connections from your crimped pex to the shower valve?
    I was wondering if you’ve sprung any leaks from them over their life? I’m just picturing a garden house that always leaks, or even washing machine that gets a drip? Also, I’ve been advised, since we get quite cold winters here in CT, that despite pex supposedly resisting bursting if frozen, to not run my water lines in outside walls to avoid frozen pipes? Any issues with that?

    • I haven’t actually started using my tiny house yet, so I can’t say anything about leaks yet. However, the connections I used between the PEX and the shower valve more specifically designed for that purpose, so I don’t expect them to leak (crossing my fingers a bit on that). Also, since I live in California, frozen pipes in the walls is not really a risk for me.

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