Modeling Plumbing Systems

BIM for Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Curriculum

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  • BIM Curriculum
  • Unit 4 | Multidisciplinary Collaboration
  • Lesson 4: Modeling Plumbing Systems


In this lesson, students will learn how to model plumbing fixtures and link them together to create hot water, cold water, sanitary waste, and fire sprinkler systems. 

Students will start by placing sanitary fixtures in the architectural model, and then copy those placeholder fixtures into an Autodesk® Revit® MEP model. They will model pipe layouts to complete the sanitary waste system and create an example of a wet fire protection system.

The endpoint of the lesson will be a plumbing model that can be used for analysis and shared with the other members of the design team and disciplines affected by the plumbing design decisions.


Placing Plumbing Fixtures in the Architectural Model

Designers typically place plumbing fixtures in their models as part of their preliminary design work to indicate the types and locations of fixtures, the required clearances, and their design intent.

You can use a similar approach, placing plumbing fixture components in an architectural model to act as placeholders for items that will be connected into plumbing systems in a later step by others on the design team. Be sure to consider the clearances required by all applicable building codes as you place the fixtures.

Make sure that the plumbing fixture components you load into your project and place are MEP-friendly (include connectors for the hot water, cold water, and sanitary systems in their definition). 

All of the plumbing fixtures included in the libraries installed by the 2011 versions of Autodesk® Revit® products are MEP-friendly, but older components may not be. To be certain, edit the component and look for the special system connector parts in its definition.

Copying Shared Elements into a Plumbing Model

Link the preliminary architectural model to your Revit MEP host project and use the Copy/Monitor tool to copy the placeholder elements to use as the starting point for the plumbing design tasks.

Modeling Sanitary Systems

Use tools in the Plumbing Panel of the Home tab to connect these fixtures and create several types of plumbing systems:  

  • Sanitary
  • Domestic cold and hot water
  • Fire protection

The essential steps include:

  • Add pipes to model vertical risers.
  • Add horizontal branch pipes and connecting them to the riser.
  • Connect plumbing fixtures to the branch pipes. 

You can place these pipes individually, or use Revit software’s auto-routing tools to generate recommended pipe layouts based on the fixture connections, pipe sizes, and connectors required.

You view the plumbing systems defined and the devices assigned to each system in the System Browser.

Modeling Fire Protection Systems

Another essential plumbing system in many buildings is the fire protection system. You can use Revit software to model both wet and dry fire protection systems.

Fire sprinklers and their piping are typically located at the ceiling level. You place sprinkler components using the Sprinkler tool in the in the Plumbing and Piping panel of the Home tab. 

You can place the pipes that supply the sprinkler components manually or by using Revit software’s auto-routing tool to generate potential layouts. These pipes can be concealed in the ceiling or left exposed. 

Because sprinkler piping typically shares the ceiling space with many other building systems—structural elements, electrical wiring and lighting fixtures, and mechanical ductwork—it is important to check for interferences and adjust the routing as needed to avoid conflicts.

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