Choosing the Right Pipes and Plumbing System for a Log Cabin

Major Considerations when Plumbing a Log Cabin

By Mark J. Donovan

If you have plans to build a log cabin home then you need to think a little more carefully about the plumbing system for it. A log cabin home creates unique problems for a log cabin, particularly in the running of the supply and drain pipes throughout the home.

Starting from the well, you can either use galvanized steel pipe or polyethylene. Most well diggers, however, have switched to polyethylene pipe for bringing water from the well into the home, as it is much more flexible and lighter than galvanized steel pipe. Polyethylene pipe, however, should never be used for hot water lines.

Log cabin homes are often built as camps in high country. Consequently when selecting a pump for either a well or a water cistern it’s important to keep in mind that water pumps loose approximately 1 foot of suction lift for each 1,000 feet of elevation above sea level. Note that when shopping for water pumps an important factor, or rating to evaluate, is the suction pump lift, or more specifically how high the pump can lift a volume of water.

As with all plumbing pipes you should locate supply and drain pipes on internal walls within the log cabin to prevent the risk of frozen and broken pipes. This is particularly important if the log cabin is located in a colder climate. Similarly, any vent pipes should be located on internal walls within the log cabin.

I recommend using PVC pipes for the drain lines and either copper pipes or flexible plastic tubing (rated for both cold and hot water) for the supply lines. The diameter of the main PVC drain lines will depend upon the number of bathrooms in the home.

Choosing the right plumbing pipes for a log cabin.

For the most part, ½ inch diameter supply lines are adequate for the standard bathroom or kitchen faucet. If you are putting in a Jacuzzi tub then you should use ¾ inch diameter supply lines for it.

Though the log cabin maybe just a camp it is important that you check with the local building authorities prior to doing any plumbing on your home.

Most municipalities will not allow a homeowner to install his own plumbing. Consequently you’ll have to hire a professional plumber in most cases. However, it’s worth asking your local building inspector, if for not for anything else at least to obtain the necessary permits for doing the plumbing work.

For the final stage in your log cabin’s plumbing system make sure that the septic tank and outlet pipe to the septic tank are located well below the frost line for your climate region. Otherwise you could end up with a frozen septic tank or drain line to it.

The last thing you want to do is come up to your log cabin in the winter, flush the toilet a couple of times, and then find dirty water backing up into you cabin. It happens, and I can say I’ve personally been there. It’s not pretty and it’s a tough problem to resolve in the dead of winter. You may also want to place insulation directly over the outlet pipe prior to burying it in the soil.

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