My rendition of 300

Sisterlimonpot

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Please bear with me, I'm about to transfer my tank build over to this forum. Be prepared for mass data overload.

This all began February 2018


After a bit of a hiatus, I’m ready to finally get started on a 300 gallon in wall tank. This is something that I’ve been thinking about for a very long time, I purchased this tank circa 2012 when I lived in California (still active duty military) with the intent to upgrade my meager 125 gallon. The price for the 300 gallon was so right that I couldn’t pass it up. However, the 125 was doing so well and the logistics of where the new tank was going to go posed a bit of a challenge, which means the tank never made its way off the enclosed trailer I picked it up in.

I retired in 2014 and in 2015 we moved back to a house we own in Wyoming. I set up the 125, why, you might ask?... Well, that one was basically turnkey and because I couldn’t go without a tank for too long! There in Wyoming, I had the perfect place to put the tank, which was in a wall that joined the family room with a small bedroom. The small bedroom was to become the fish room and it shared a wall with a bathroom, which meant plumbing issues were going to be at a minimum.

However, my wife was still working for a company in California that allowed her to do the job remotely, which meant that she needed to set up an office space….You can probably guess where this is going… Yep! The 300 again fell by the wayside, however, it no longer resided in the trailer, I had a spot for it in the garage…. PROGRESS!

After a year in Wyoming, due to some unforeseen circumstances we decided to uproot yet again and move to Phoenix AZ. This time, when house hunting, I kept my eyes peeled for a house with the perfect spot for the tank, we found one, but got into a bidding war and we bowed out. The runner up had a spot that wasn’t ideal but I could make it work. At this point the trick was to lay claim to the spot before it ended up as a storage area...or an office space!

Here it is: A small walk in closet that shares a wall with the living room and stairs on the other side. I needed to push 2 walls out roughly 13 inches on both. You can see with the blue painters tape where the new walls were going to be.



The first challenge I ran into was that the wall that will have the tank is load bearing. I had to call in an architect to draw up plans to support that floor above over the existing concrete footer and then frame in the new wall. I was given 2 choices:

1. remove the concrete where the new wall will go, dig a 30” footer, rebar and tie back into existing concrete slab so that the new wall will support the load

2. incorporate a glue laminated beam to support the floor above the existing footer and extend out the load with a steel beam on the floor to carry the load of the extra 13 inches on the wall with the door.

Choice no 1 was ideal but destroying the concrete slab in which the house resided was out of the question and definitely not in th budget. So no 2 it is!
Let’s start the demo!


Pulled of all the drywall to expose the studs, cut power to the electrical wires that ran through.


Exposed the underbelly of the stairs, that’s useable real estate!






Grabbed a diamond blade and cut out the tile in which the new wall will go:




Removed the tile and cleaned it up. What a pain this was!!!


Removing all the thin set from the concrete was tough too!

 
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Sisterlimonpot

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Trimmed back just enough ceiling to put the wall up.






If you noticed in one of the first few pictures there was an HVAC register in the existing wall, I had to relocate that and also added a wye pipe to put a register inside the fish room.





This part was tricky, before removing the wall that supported the load, I had to frame in the new wall using 2x12’s over the concrete that doesn’t have a footer. The structural engineer said that there wasn’t a big risk as long as I installed the glue lam beam rather quickly, I used a series of jacks to keep other beams up while getting the glue lam in place.



Removed the old wall



Sorry I don’t have any pictures of framing in the glue lam all I have is this one with the door roughed in:



I had to leave it like that until the inspector cleared in and then roughed in electrical and drywall was next.
 
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One thing that was a must for the equipment room is to have a sink and a washer machine solely for the purpose of washing filter socks, I never liked the idea of cleaning them in the same machine we washed clothes in.

That meant that I had to run water and a sewer line in, which isn't an easy task. One good thing is that the room shares a wall with outside, I can easily punch holes in the wall to get everything to where I want it. Water was easy to tap into because the heart of my irrigation system was only 20' away from the wall, last year when I had a 125A electrical service ran to the room (that’s right, the ground work for this project started over a year ago), I utilized the trench for that to tie into the water main.

The sewer line on the other hand was a different story!! The closest place I could tie into sewer was in the front of the house 70' away at the clean out. Now, if you ever lived in a desert climate such as Arizona, you would know that about 6 inches below the surface lies a layer of soil called caliche, and if you knew that, you would know that it's considered "natures concrete". Good luck trying to make an afternoon out of digging 70 feet of trench. Calculating at the minimum drop per foot of sewage pipe (ABS) is 1/4", 70 feet of pipe would have to drop 17 1/2". That doesn't include having to bury the start of the pipe as well as any other obstacles like other plumbing, conduit, concrete footers etc... When factoring all that in, I needed to be at 24" at the end of the 70' run, plus deep enough at the clean out to comfortably work when cutting and installing fittings. I ended up at 32" down at the clean out. Luckily my neighbor has an electric jack hammer with a spade bit that made the work a little easier (instead of breaking my back shoveling, I broke it wielding the heave jack hammer). I know what you’re thinking, why not just use a trencher? Well, The amount of existing irrigation that was in the ground already would have given me a side job of repairing all of it.

I tried really hard to push back all the rock before piling dirt but the piles kept getting higher and higher!


I had to remove a lot of bushes to dig this trench, good news is, the new bushes will have an easier time to root down in the softer soil.






This took me a good 4 days to complete, and I’m glad it’s over, if I knew the amount of work it would have been, I would’ve opted out of having sewer and devised a clever way to drain everything outside a few feet away from the house.

I have a plumber coming over Thursday to at least get the ABS in the ground and buried, and hopefully Friday get everything roughed in inside the equipment room.
 
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I was able to lay the ABS and bury it. We stopped just shy of where the plumbing would come into the house, the plumber wont be back until early next week, so I just need to practice patients.



What a big ditch for such a small pipe!!! I think I went overboard there.



One thing that I learned is that ABS is expensive, for 70’ plus all the elbows and pieces for the inside came in just north of $200. I wasn’t expecting that. I also ran into a snag today when I found out that where I wanted to plumb in the sink was too close to the circuit breaker box. The electrician said that the water source needs to be 48” away from a circuit breaker panel, my plumber said 36”. I guess I need to get with the inspector and get clarification.

Either way it has to move from here:



To roughly here:



This means I have to rethink the 55 gal fresh water and salt water barrels. There’s enough room to stack them above each other (the top one on a shelf), that will make maintenance a bit harder but with the limited space, I may not have another option. Don’t forget I’m putting a washer machine on that wall as well.

First installment of how I hope to keep this install clean by running all the cables inside the wall,



And I’ve been drawing on the wall as to where everything is going to lay out. Hopefully the picture can be viewed well enough to get the idea

 
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The plumber came over to finish everything so that I can move on. Last week we took a trip to the plumbing supply store to get everything necessary to do all the sewage but when he laid everything out he said, "this isn't going to work" so we went back to the supply store to get more stuff, plus all the copper to run the supply line in. I'm not one to marvel at efficiency because I rarely see it but I was amazed to sit back and watch him work, it's like he does this stuff every day. He would take measurements of the sink drain, mumble some numbers as if he's adding and subtracting fractions in his head, then mark the wall, take a few more measurements and repeat the process until all the marks he needed was placed on the wall. Then he just started cutting ABS into various sizes and before you knew it holes were drilled and everything was dry fit and ready to be glued. within 10 minutes my walls went from nothing to this:



He did the same thing with the copper he measured, mumbled, drilled, cut and sweat.



and there it is, in it's finished state:



I felt like I wasn't contributing at all, as he was cleaning up to move outside to tie everything up, I started thinking, I don't want to run a screw through pipe after the walls are enclosed, I sprang into action and grabbed these safety plates and hammered them to the wall... there, I did something other than stand and watch



Some of you may want to know the purpose of the black pipe that is going up underneath the drywall. That is a vent pipe. Most homes have vent pipes that simply run to the roof and the basic need is to allow the drain to breath, if it was sealed off the water running down the pipe will trap air and gurgle, as reefers I'm sure most of us have run across this in our efforts to plumb the tank.

I didn't want to run a breather tube all the way out the roof, the easy fix was to put an automatic vent in the wall. Basically it's a 1 way check valve that allows fresh air in the system but doesn't allow sewer smell out. The plumber told me that I'd want to have access to it just in case it ever needs to be serviced or replaced. He wanted to run the vent back out of the wall to have access and I wanted to leave it in the wall to avoid the ugliness. This was my solution:



Use a large enough vent return that will gives easy access and allow that section of wall to breath.



I used this mesh to hide the possibility of being able to look past the vent and seeing it. I just hot glued it into place



The only obstacle this now poses is that I am planning to put shelving up there, I will have to work around that and hopefully I wont have to gain access to service often if ever!!!



And as for the outside, he tied everything in so quick that I didn't have time to take any pictures, these are from this morning before I filled in the holes:



 
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Sisterlimonpot

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The clean out will be somewhat tough to get to just because of the air conditioning condenser.



Now it's back to running all the data cables in the wall that need to be in certain locations. However, I also have side project that I started in conjunction with the fish room. I closed off a loft that we had upstairs to make it a theater room. I'm in the midst of sound proofing the floor and walls... the one wall I put up has been sound proofed but the rest are still in need.

What's pressing is to finish the mudding of the drywall then I can texture and paint it. it's becoming an eye sore... that consumed most of my day.
 
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I got a little bit of work in last night and hit a snag...Literally. I was drilling through wall studs to route the data wires and 1/4" water tubes. There are 2
'columns' of 2x6's that are 7 studs wide, drilling through it was a challenge because I had to navigate around other 110v lines that were already in the wall. As I was 5-6 studs through I bored into an existing hole that had 2 romex 110v and 1 cat6 cable, I didn't know it until the lights in the equipment room shut off. That's not good!!! In the picture below, the hole with the arrow is what I drilled. The hole that it intersectedis the one with the romex and blue cat6. I severed an entire romex cable but luckily I didn't damage either of the other 2 wires. In the picture I already pulled out the damaged romex.





The bad news is that I can't simply splice the wires back together because the outlet box would have to go right under the sink and it's not a gfci protected circuit.

The good news is that where the wire was cut was in between the circuit breaker and the first outlet in the circuit. Which means I can simply abandon the wire from the box and attach the broken wire to the new sub panel in the equipment room. Instead of the sub panel out side, it went to the sub panel inside.

If that wasn't an easy fix, i don't know what is.
 
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No matter how I feel about this being finished, once I close off the walls there's going to be a vital cable that needed to be added. At this very moment I think that I've covered all my bases... That's when you say, "ignorance is bliss"

I drew out my plans, mapped out what was necessary with the current equipment that I have, ran cable for future expansion. Since I've chosen a long time ago (for many reasons) to use Neptune systems as the brains of the operation, I had that in mind while planning this out. Seeing that the EB832 is going to basically be the hub for all the USB ports, I picked 3 locations in the room to drop USB access as well as 2 locations to have a possible DC8 (Spoiler alert, DC8's aren't compatible with the Apex 2016, I had to purchase a couple more EB832's). Lastly I have an 8 channel port switch in the corner of the room that runs to various locations throughout the 1st floor, I'll tap into that to provide a direct connection to the apex.



I'n order to achieve this clean look, I chose these keystone plugs and wall plates. The beauty of these are that you can get wall plates with a wide range of port connections. They make many adapters that fits these ports. In my case, I ordered a bunch of CAT6, CAT3 and USB ports



They simply snap in





the USB and CAT6 adapters are a straight female to female and simply needs that specific cable behind the wall, making it extremely easy to run wire and plug it in. The downside to not making my own cable is the cost. At a garage sale many years ago, I picked these spools of wire for $2. I held onto them because I knew one day I'd use them.



With this wire I can make the CAT3 connections (for the DC8's). For those, it's pretty straight forward, they are called a "no punch" connector. Which means it doesn't require the punch down tool to connect the wires





Since none of you are reading this anyway, (if you are thanks)just look at the pictures of how I connected the wires.





 
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Snap a few USB's and a CAT6 in place, screw the plates on just to take the pictures









During all of this the doorbell rang and looky what just came in time to keep me moving forward:





I purchased a 0.6 sones 80 cfm exhaust fan that will be controlled by a humidistat. Once I get that in and connect the 1/4 water lines for the ATO and hopefully an automatic water change system down the road, I will be able to start drywalling.
 
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Sisterlimonpot

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I think you'll get a laugh at my expense. (read on)

I wanted to get the exhaust fan installed





Taped all the holes and seems




Stabbed it in the ceiling


Duct work


put 2 holes ei destroyed the house


Stucco patch


Painted


all that's left is to put the drywall pieces back in place


We chose this particular fan because it uses a DC motor which equated to lower electric costs and it's rated at 0.6 sones meaning that it's quieter than a high end refrigerator. In fact if you're ever in the market for a new exhaust fan I would urge you to consider this one. Here's a video

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Apparently the bearings that hold the motor shaft isn't align properly. So, I put in a phone call to the manufacturer and explained to them that the fan didn't meet my standards of quiet, I proceeded to explain to him the problem and he wanted me to email him a video (luckily I already made one for this thread) but I couldn't send it to him while on the phone, so he wanted me to hold the phone to the fan and ~maybe he'll be able to hear it. He also added that with these newer phones, he may not be able to hear it. because the phones microphone can pick up all sorts of ambient surrounding noises. I played along, "Ok, I'll close the door and be extremely quiet"

Well, long story short they're sending out a replacement, I just have to wait a little longer to check this part off the list. Hope you got a laugh at that...
 
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Next step in the process was running water lines in the wall, three 1/4" lines will go to the tank (ATO reservoir, auto water change in, and out), the other side of the lines will be over on the wall with the RODI.

I thought about this for a while, I wanted to use 1/4" quick disconnect couplers and attach them to a wall plate only having a small portion of the coupler protruding through the wall, the rest would be behind the wall. I ran this idea through a buddy of mine in California, he's a reefer as well but on another level than I. If he said "yay" I would proceed. However his concerns were pretty much mine as well, having a plastic water line connection behind the wall was recipe for disaster. I've never seen one of these fail or leak, but put it behind a wall and it will, and i'll never know until it's too late. So I had to put the quick disconnect coupling on the outside of the wall plate. Not what I wanted but form has to follow function.

I have a laser cutter that can pretty much cut any shape from up to 1/2" acrylic, I planned out my cuts on the CAD program and sent it to the laser.



The entire purpose of what I'm making is to be able to clamp the tubes and hold them secure to the wall plate, preventing the tubes from sliding out or further back into the wall.
All the pieces cut,



Adhere these pieces together with weldon 4



Ran a tap through the appropriate holes



Starting to come together





Front side



Ran the tubes through and tighten the clamp to prevent it from backing out



Drilled the holes in the wally plate to match the clamping system



Trimmed the hose

 
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I've been doing a lot of tedious work, tidy'd up all the wires, temporarily plugged in all the apex equipment and made sure all the connections worked, spray foamed all the holes to outside, Insulated around all the plumbing in hopes to muffle the sound of water flow, it dampened it a little bit but it's still a bit loud.

I wanted to cover up the beam that ran on the floor with concrete. Non of this is ideal, I wish I didn't have to put a step there but it's the best idea I had for covering it up. I will be tiling the floor and the tank will sit over the step anyway. I will have to create a custom stand to work around this.... oh well, what's more work???









When it comes to concrete, I'm a novice at best.

A started a punch list of things that I need to do before I can start hanging drywall, out of the 11 things on the list I have 8 done... 3 more to go and I can drywall, then tile, then turn my attention to all things a normal tank build would have. Hopefully all this ground work will pay off during that part.
 
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good news, the new fan came in and it is pretty silent. It is a delta breeze SLM80, and yes triggered by your normal run of the mill humidity switch.


I was looking at some more sophisticated ones with better controls but I came back down off that cloud and decided once it's set, I don't have to mess with it. I would however like to have a display in the room that will tell me temperature and humidity.
 
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When I bought the sound deadening insulation for around the plumbing, I had enough to do the wall around the tank... It was exactly enough!!



The goal is not to hear anything from the living room side of the tank, hopefully it does.

and I also brought in the drywall... Again I went with 5/8" drywall to help with sound deadening.



I'm still waiting on a few things before I can completely close up the walls, but I can do about 90% of it tomorrow.... Getting closer!!!
 
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The last piece of the puzzle arrived in the mail on Saturday which allowed me to move towards closing up the walls.

The piece I needed was for the air conditioning hook up, that little white plastic thing in the middle.





I made the box for it so that it will sit recessed in the wall enough in order for a door to close on it to cover it up when not in use.

On the inside of the wall, this is what will tie into the duct work that routes it to the outside



And I completed hanging the drywall, towards the end I wasn't too motivated to continue to measure and cut the pieces to fit... it started to become mundane









Next it's taping and mudding time... that's not going to be fun for me either...
 
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A few more touch ups, sand it and texture!!









Once that's all done, I can paint and move on to the floor.

I discussed waterproofing with a reefer buddy of mine out in California (he's the same guy that has built an entire building dedicated to his obsession), because I was trying to make sense out of why I need to waterproof the entire room if there's a door way in which the water is going to run out anyway. I couldn't judge his demeanor when we text back and forth, but it sounded like he was questioning that too. He suggested that I seal the tile really well and be done with it.

That was pretty much the line of reasoning I was using as well. However, I'm going to take it step further, even though I sloped the concrete step to channel water away from the walls, the step is going to be right under the tank. I want to be assured that if water collects there, it's not going to soak in. I have some experience with this felt type water barrier that is used in showers made by a German company called schluter kerdi it's an amazing product, it's applied with unmodified thinset and once cured it can hold water like a container. I'm going to line the floor and wall with this stuff, all the way around where the tank sits. that way if/when a leak accurs, i'm ready for it. The bad news is, I was late to order it, so it will take 10 days to get to me....
 

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