Plumb and Square


Reefer Plumbing

These last weeks I’ve been intensely working on the very complicated plumbing of the reefer section of our on-farm butcher shop. The reefer will weigh in at approximately 126,000 lbs according to my calculations. That’s without equipment. By reefer I mean the two thirds of the interior of the building that is refrigerated. This does not include the smokehouse, administration (inspector’s office & bathroom), storage or abattoir (kill floor).

This is the most complicated section we’ll be pouring. Issues related to doing the reefer include:

  • Many temperature zones
  • Some of those areas are below freezing – deeply below freezing
  • PEX temperature transfer loops to deal with the potential perma-frost situation
  • Lungs – the reefer has lungs to breath with so it can dry and chill its own insulation and thermal mass naturally
  • Many layers stacked vertically
  • Six rooms in the reefer
  • Waste water out, venting, refrigeration, fresh water (cold, hot, super hot) in, vacuum, cleanser, electric, comm, product flow, people flow and rail system all must be considered as to how they relate to each other

And to top it all off, this is buried in a thick layer of insulation and under a pour of concrete.

Yes, in a pour of concrete. That means I must get it right the first time. Just in case anything ever goes wrong I am designing the layers so I can cut through to reach down and fix things. I would rather not – ever.

Speaking of getting it right, the reefer is nearly perfectly square on its sizes. Our margin of error is less than 0.15% on the diagonal. We started with a very not square old hay shed foundation. As we have done each pour we have squared things up, leveled it, plumbed it. It is lovely to be working with right angles one can count on. I spent years rebuilding old buildings that Jack Frost had torqued and nary a right angle could be found.

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Outdoors: 72°F/56°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 72°F/67°F

Daily Spark:
Advice #1: Don’t make mistakes.
Advice #2: Build a margin of error into your plans.
Advice #3: Have a backup plan.
Advice #4: Plan an escape route.
Advice #5: Move!

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About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor…

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3 Responses to Plumb and Square

  1. David Lloyd Sutton says:

    Quality is getting it right the first time. I wish you a quality experience!!

  2. Nance says:

    We are in awe. We are plumbing a 24X24′ cabin (our first plumbing project) and having enough of a challenge figuring out angles, connections, flow, drop et al. Can’t imagine if I had to lay this out and then pour concrete over top. It is hard enough covering up all this with dirt! lol Good Job, you all!

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