Bathroom Remodeling—Are You Locked in Place with Plumbing?

Home remodeling 101: Unless you want to double the cost of a remodel, don’t move appliances and fixtures. This is especially true in bathrooms, right?

Well … mostly. But it turns out you may have a little more wiggle room than you thought, at least when it comes to your vanity and sinks.

Still No Major Movements

The rule of thumb does still apply. If you’re remodeling a bathroom and not planning on opening up the main wet wall to do major plumbing work, you can’t do anything drastic. But a smaller shift in the vanity or conversion to a double sink vanity is definitely possible. It’s even something a DIYer can do with a little daring, and willingness to get into some basic plumbing and some slightly more complicated measurements and math.

The feeds for hot and cold water are usually just hoses, but even if they are solid pipes in your current configuration, you can convert them to hoses with ease. Those aren’t the problem. The drains are, and here’s what you need to know for those.

No Right Angles

Right angles in drain pipes are bad, m’kay? Any sharp bends in a pipe create a great place for hair and other detritus to get stuck and form clogs, so you don’t want any right angles, sharp bends, or sudden changes in pipe diameter.

To avoid right angles, you can use pairs of 45° sections to create more gradual curves. You can also use more sweepingly curved pipes, if you find that they can fit in the space, which they may or may not. Just make sure you plan it all carefully, and sketch out the design on some graph paper, with measurements calculated accurately. The math isn’t too hard … the Pythagorean theorem works fine, or some basic trigonometry will make it a breeze if you’re comfortable with it.

Water Always Flows Downhill

The final thing you need to account for is that water flows downhill. The entire pipe needs to be flowing downward from the sink into the wall, at an average of a 1:40 gradient, or ¼” for every 10” of pipe. This does two things. First, yes, it will make the math slightly more difficult, but you can handle it!

The other thing it does is provide the ultimate limit for how far away from the wall inlet you can get the sink. Once you’ve gone far enough away that you don’t have any further you can go upward to meet the sink’s drain pipe and still be going uphill, you’re done. So a move of ten or twenty inches is entirely doable. A move of five feet pretty much isn’t, not to mention that the place where the plumbing comes out of the wall would likely be outside the vanity then!

If you haven’t decided on the model of vanity or vanities you’re going with, check out our free consumer’s guide to kitchen cabinets. True, it’s not geared toward bathroom vanities, but many of the things you’ll learn will apply, and help you make the best decision in your bathroom remodeling adventure!

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