Plumbers Union

Junction, Junction

For July one of my big projects has been the final lower plumbing in the butcher shop. In the basement, the trenches we made in 2009, I’m bringing all the plumbing together along with the potential for future expansion and changes. This will get capped over with insulation to create a openable space should we ever need to get at it and then covered over with a layer of concrete as we pour the final floors.

The goal is to end up with as few floor penetrations as possible so we have floors walls and ceilings jointed as seamless as can be. This maximizes ease of sanitation and food safety since the bacteria won’t have places to hide. The purpose of the maze at that point is to bring a lot of pipes together so I can have fewer penetrations for clean outs and those floor penetrations can be in a dry hall area rather than wet processing floors.

The area shown above is the junction in the middle of the Administration hall. In one direction it goes off to the initial cutting room which will later become the smokehouse and warm kitchen. Beyond that are the rest of the processing rooms in reefer. In another direction it goes to the abattoir, the kill floor. All pipes also lead outdoors to the compost and septic. You can see a floor plan on the Butcher Shop page.

In a most buildings there is only one Drain Waste Vent system (DWV). In a USDA Meat Processing facility we are required to have two systems by regulation. One is for welfare which is the sewage from the toilet, the washing machine, the shower and such. The other is for process water which is the floors, sinks and other drains of all the processing rooms where food handling happens. These two systems must exit the building separately for sanitary reasons.

Often there is also a blood drain system since blood is so high in nutrients (BODs) which could clog up a septic system. We actually have two blood drain systems to allow us to switch compost systems. We will wet compost all the process water and blood to recapture those nutrients. By capturing those nutrients we return them to the soil and it means we can use a smaller septic system than would be necessary if all the process water went through the septic tank and leach field.

Our building has two additional DWV systems. One for dealing with the brine, the salt used in curing. The other for dealing with the smokehouse. These two extra systems are because I don’t want these solutions going into our septic or our primary compost since either could kill the helpful bacteria in those digestive systems.

That brings our plumbing systems to a total of five – six if you count the redundant blood system. By separating these process outputs we can better deal with them individually to capture the nutrients and return them to the soil where they benefit nature and our farm. It’s like separating your recycling.

Outdoors: 74°F/52°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 65°F/62°F

Daily Spark: There is no need to go backwards when you can go forwards.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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9 Responses to Plumbers Union

  1. david says:

    No primer on your joints?

    • What you’re seeing in the photo is just the temporary fitting of the system to make sure all the pieces are right, heights work, slopes work, etc. Yesterday morning I took it all apart and then Ben & Will chipped out some concrete to make a few spots larger and cleaned the trench. Next we’ll waterproof the concrete of the trench and then I’ll put the pipes all back in for real, with purple primer and solvent. Step-by-step.

  2. Steve S. says:

    Your pipes give me a headache just looking at them. I could never fix the drain of our kitchen sink never mind figuring out how you would ever do something so complex as a butcher shop plumbing system! But I do admit I love watching you do it all. Men at Work! You should do a music video!!

  3. Bob says:

    I sure hope you never have to repair that tangle! It would probably mean cutting most of it out in order to do any repairs. However, it should last a very long time since there should be little pipe movement or flexing. It looks like a well thought out job, and way beyond what most plumbers could have done (having worked for one, I’m impressed).

    • I hope to never repair it too but it is carefully designed for cleanout and repair should I ever have to do so. We’ll be pouring a thin smooth concrete floor over the top after building a shield of foam. This will allow us to reopen the trench completely should that be necessary. There are also a small number of access points for inspection and cleanout, concentrated in select spots. Should repairs be necessary I have placed the most likely and complex piping up at the top to minimize the layers I would have to go through. Some people think I spent a bit too much time thinking through these things but when casting it in concrete I want to be sure it is right and I have a backup plan for repairs and maintenance. Call me compulsive but don’t call me late for dinner.

  4. Bill Harshaw says:

    Never heard of KISS? (I suppose you’ll say something like ” hidden complexity results in everyday simplicity”.

    • Aye, which is why that’s the simple version. :) I like hiding all the complexity away so things are simple on the surface. In this case it brings all the clean outs for the area to one spot which will be sealed over and only opened if necessary.

  5. Biljana says:

    For all plumbing service providers there is a software solution that could help you keep up with the standards:

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