A kitchen remodel is a very popular home improvement option, as new kitchen appliances and accessories are constantly in development. One 2019 survey of more than 8,000 Canadians found that 27% had remodeled their kitchens. While this type of remodeling is common, it must be approached carefully, as there are a lot of complex and delicate structural elements connected to or near the kitchen.
As such, when remodeling a kitchen, you not only have to make sure that new installations and other adjustments account for and are properly integrated with functional structures directly related to the kitchen, you also have to take care to avoid damaging nearby structures such as utility lines in the process. Damaging these structures can cause your remodel to be far more lengthy, labourious, and expensive.
The majority of kitchen plumbing pipes will be found in and under the cabinets around the kitchen sink. This accounts for all of the water supply and water waste lines leading to and from the kitchen sink and the dishwasher. There may also be additional water supply lines to features in the kitchen such as ice makers and water dispensers in the freezer and refrigerator.
There are five major types of plumbing pipes commonly found in homes: PEX pipes, PVC pipes, rigid copper pipes, ABS pipes, and flexible connections. In older homes, galvanized steel and cast iron pipes are also common. It is important that you understand which type of piping is used for your plumbing before you start, as that will help you understand important factors such as how resilient they are, common issues to be aware of, and how they interconnect. It will also be helpful to find an emergency plumbing service before you start to make sure that the problem can be handled quickly if kitchen plumbing pipes are damaged, as the damage can multiply quickly.
Natural Gas and Propane
Natural gas and propane lines are commonly found in the kitchen due to a need to heat the stovetop. The pipes will therefore typically be found behind the stovetop appliance, if there are any. These lines could be particularly dangerous to damage, as they could create a fire hazard or leak harmful toxins into the air. Therefore, it is very important that you have the contact information for a gas line repair service prepared before doing work near these lines so they can be repaired or replaced as quickly as possible if damaged. It is vital that you have a professional come and examine these lines even if you think the lines may have been damaged. It is also a good general rule to always ensure that you have proper smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors installed, and that they are inspected regularly.
These lines are made of either copper tubing or plastic polyethylene piping. As these options vary in durability, you should not only make sure that you are aware of exactly where the lines are located, but also which of these materials they are made of. They may also have additional safety piping such as PVC surrounding them for additional protection and peace of mind. This is especially common for plastic polyethylene piping. You should also bear in mind that if your stovetop is electric, you will likely not have to worry about damaging natural gas or propane pipes when remodeling your kitchen.
Electrical lines can be particularly tricky to avoid, as they will often be found in many places throughout the kitchen, and these locations can vary widely depending on the location of electrical fixtures and how they were set up. Wiring will be found behind any fixture that supplies electricity, such as lights, outlets, switches, and appliance connections. It is also important to make sure you don’t overlook optional or less obvious features with wiring, such as the garburator. The wiring can also be partially hidden even when the outside paneling is removed, due to features like insulation.
Because wiring can be laid out in a variety of ways behind surfaces, you should ideally use a non-invasive way to identify them before starting work on remodeling a section of a kitchen. You can do this by using a dedicated wire tracer, or by using certain electronic stud finders that have a wire tracing feature. It will also be a good idea to have a voltage detector on hand, as it can help you double-check whether a wire is live or not. If it becomes necessary to move wiring rather than simply working around it, it is also best to get the assistance of a licensed contractor, as failure to properly adjust wiring and its connections can cause serious efficiency and safety risks.
In general, it is always a good idea to be aware of the placement and composition of any utility lines in your kitchen before you start planning the remodel. This is not only a matter of cost management and safety, but will also allow you to make better decisions about your kitchen design overall. This can be achieved by having a basic knowledge of where utility lines will typically be found, using an existing diagram of the kitchen, utilizing non-invasive detection devices, or by employing a contractor. Careful examination for utility lines will be particularly important for old or multi-story houses, in which the layout of utility lines may be more complex or unusual.