Code outlines the best and most modern methods to be
used in plumbing installations. Since the plumbing
in any private or public building is a part of the
community water and sewage disposal system, it is
vital that such installations should not be left to
the discretion of irresponsible individuals. The
protection of the public health and safety must be
maintained by the establishment of sound code
plumbing or sanitation code is not a plumber's code.
It is rather a set of Rules and Regulations imposed
by cities, counties and states on anyone who
undertakes any work involving the installation of
drinking water, sewer or toilet facilities in homes,
offices, factories, schools and hospitals.
Regardless of who might do the work, plumbing and
sanitation codes require that it be done in a
specific, safe manner because it was found that
failure to do so caused widespread disease, which
can be crippling and deadly-to the community.
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Plumbers must demonstrate their competence as
installers of plumbing systems to an official
executing board prior to being issued a license. A
plumbing code which is technically perfect is
valueless if in provisions are not observed and
enforced. The issuance of a license by a community
specifies that in holder is qualified both
theoretically and practically and that their
technical knowledge is sufficient to maintain the
standards of the code.
licensing intended to prevent anyone but a plumber
from doing sanitation work? NO... Licensing
prohibits the irresponsible, incapable person from
endangering the health of your family, neighbors and
community. Any person may do the work who has
sufficient knowledge to do it in a safe manner, so
long as the Rules and Regulations of the plumbing
and sanitation code are observed. However, those
wishing to do such work must demonstrate their
ability by taking out a license and passing an
State requires that, like a doctor, nurse, dentist
or pharmacist, anyone whose work affects the public
health and safety shall have adequate knowledge and
training. No one wants a "quack doctor" to treat his
family or a "soda clerk" to fill his prescriptions.
For precisely the same reasons, one does not want a
"handyman" to do work in his home, office factory
which can adversely affect the health of his family,
his employees or his neighbors.
improperly this work would probably need to be
rectified at the time the property changed hands
which means paying twice for the same work.
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Through the issuance of permits and the requirements
of public inspection, a community can assure itself
of proper plumbing code enforcement. The permit
allows the plumbing inspector to protect the
consumer by assuring plumbing installations are done
properly. The inspection of such plumbing work
insures that the installation is being completed in
accordance with code provisions.
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average household plumbing system represents an
investment of about fifteen percent of the value of
the house. No part of the house is more important .
Nothing in the house is used more often. A smoothly
functioning plumbing system is a pin to health and
adds to the convenience of modern living.
booklet was written with the objective of helping
home owners as well as renters keep their plumbing
systems in good operating condition. The sale value
of a house with sound plumbing is far greater than
that of a house where plumbing is in poor repair.
are many things that an owner or renter can do;
there are many things that should be left to an
expert, the plumbing contractor and his staff of
journeymen plumbers. Minor repairs should be made
promptly. Such annoyances such as a clogged drain,
dripping faucet or a leaking flush valve in the
toilet, are more than a mere bother - they usually
waste money. This booklet suggests remedies for
these and many other household plumbing problems.
repairs, replacements, and new plumbing
installations should be left to the supervision of a
plumbing contractor. His working methods are based
on years of experience - and his guarantee is
assurance that all materials and methods are of the
booklet will help prolong the useful life of your
plumbing system. Your plumber will be glad to give
you additional hints that apply specifically to your
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Plumbers get more calls to open clogged drains than
for any other service. Many such calls could be
prevented by greater care in the use of drains. The
most-used drain is the one in the kitchen sink and
that is the drain most often clogged.
Preventing this situation can be done by carefully
watching what is emptied into the sink drain and by
the regular use of a safe biodegradable waste
digester. Your plumber can give you more information
on these products.
stoppages are usually caused by liquid fats,
emulsified by warm dishwater and carried through the
pipes. The water cools as it proceeds to the main
sewer and leaves the fatty deposits along the way. A
film of grease forms on the pipe wall, then another
and another. Coffee grounds and bits of food add to
this accumulation layer until the pipe becomes
excess grease into a tin can and throw it out with
the garbage, not down the sink drain. When using a
food disposer, always let sufficient cold water run
to carry the particles down and into the main line
to prevent buildup in the smaller waste lines.
the event of a stoppage, you should have a
"plumber's friend," or plunger - a large rubber
suction cup with a wooden handle. Cup it tightly
over the drain and plunge it vigorously several
times. If it is a double drain sink, make sure you
seal the other drain, so water will not splash out
into the other bowl or on you. Drain piping can also
be cleaned by removing the J-bend on the trap below
the fixture. First place adhesive tape around the
packing nut or wrap the wrench jaws with cloth to
prevent scratching the metal surface. If plastic
piping is in place, do not grip the nuts too tightly
with the wrench, as they can crack easily.
a bucket directly under the pipe to catch any
dripping from the open pipe. Pull out the clogging
material with a piece of wire or small hand-turned
cable. If you take the trap off, have some new
gaskets ready to slip into the joints.
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clogged trap way in a water closet is a ticklish
problem, so be careful with whatever method you use
for cleaning the drain. Most water closets are made
of vitreous china which might crack if exposed to
extremely hot water.
plunger will normally handle simple toilet clogs.
Another method of cleaning a water closet trap or
toilet is the use of an auger with an adjustable,
crank-type handle. Known to plumbers as a "snake,"
the spring-steel coil is easily worked past the trap
and down the pipe. A three foot auger is inexpensive
and will quickly drill through most clogs. Use the
auger carefully. Careless handling may crack the
the rubber-cupped plunger or the auger does not
clear the toilet, call your plumber.
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trying to clear a plugged bathtub drain, place a
heavy cloth in the bottom of the bathtub so your
shoe soles won't scratch the bath's enameled
surface. Hold your hand or rag over the waste and
overflow plate, cup the plunger over the drain and
plunge it vigorously several times. If it doesn't
open easily, the drain may require cabling to open
steel spring coils should not be used to clean traps
under lavatories, sinks, or bathtubs. A more
flexible type of wire or spring should be used --
one which is easy to work through the bend of the
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clean out a floor drain, remove the strainer or
grating which covers the drain box. The dirt and
grease can then be dug out with a spoon or a stick.
After a hooked wire or coil spring-steel auger will
clean out the bend or trap. Check to find out
whether a removable clean-out plug has been provided
to make this job easier.
the clogging material has been removed from the
trap, pour a pail or two of hot water into the drain
to wash out any loose material. Check the strainer
itself and clean it in hot water and soap in order
to open all holes. The floor drain should be checked
regularly, especially one that is not often used,
since water in the trap may evaporate. This would
allow sewer gases to enter the room. Pour a pail of
water into the drain periodically in order to make
certain of a proper water seal.
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Fittings (faucets and valves) are used more often
than any other part of the plumbing system. They get
plenty of use but are built to take it, under normal
best modern fittings are all chrome plated brass and
will last a lifetime under everyday use. They clean
easily with soap and warm water.
Caution: The metal chromium is easily dissolved in
hydrochloric acid and sulfuric acid. Muriatic acid
has for years been considered a good tile cleaner,
but only where there are nickel plated plumbing
fittings. Where chrome plating is present, clean
bathroom tile with warm oxalic acid never with
muriatic or sulfuric acids. Even covering the
chromium surfaces with cloths will not prevent the
acid fumes from inflicting permanent damage.
Gaining in popularity are polished brass fittings
and trim. These will hold up well, as long as
certain precautions are observed. NEVER use any
abrasive cleaner on polished brass. This can scratch
the protective coating on the brass finish resulting
in a deterioration or pitting of the brass plating.
Also avoid use of solvent based cleaners because
they can be deleterious to the polished brass
technologies have brought about the development of
improved finishes that can withstand more wear, but
check the manufacturer's warranty regarding it to
determine whether or not you have the "new and
improved" lifetime warranty finish.
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Today, most faucets can be categorized as being "washerless
(port-type faucets), or of the Compression (washer)
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Washerless faucets can be either single handle or
the two handle type. In washerless faucets, the
control of the water flow is done by a replaceable
cartridge or arrangement of seals that allow water
flow when the holes or ports are lined up in the
proper configuration. Giving the handle an extra
hard twist to stop water flow will be ineffective.
This type of faucet does not use compression
strength to stop water flow.
washerless faucet does not mean it will never leak,
but rather because of the way it is designed, the
parts will last much longer, as their design
minimizes friction and wear.
repairing this type of faucet or requesting service
on one, it is vital that you know the brand name, or
have a sample of the part you require, as there are
hundreds of faucet cartridges and parts kits on the
licensed plumber will carry an extensive assortment
of faucet parts in his service truck, but it is
impossible to carry absolutely every part. So it can
be very helpful if he knows in advance, the brand of
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compression type faucet, you will find the
conventional setup - a faucet washer on the end of
the stern. Replacing the washer usually will correct
a dripping faucet.
However, when removing the stem, always check the
seat inside the faucet body - the brass ring that
the washer grinds against. The faucet seat can be
worn or grooved, making the washer replacement
ineffective within days. The washer and seat are the
two parts of a compression type faucet that receives
the greatest amount of wear. It is not difficult to replace a washer. First, shut
off the water supply. Usually, the shut-off valve is
under the sink in the kitchen, or in the bathroom,
under the lavatory basin. If there is none, shut off
the branch-line valve in the basement or the main
valve where the water supply enters the house.
smooth jawed wrench with a cloth, then, using the
padded wrench, unscrew the large packing nut and
turn out the faucet stem. Then, with a screw driver
that fits the screw slot closely, remove the screw
from the bottom of the stem and pry out the worn
washer. If the screw is tight or stubborn, tap its
head lightly or apply penetrating oil (WD-40).
clean out the washer seat or compartment. When this
is done, insert the new washer of the correct size
and composition for hot or cold water.
of the newer, soft neoprene washers are for both hot
and cold water and have a long life. The washer
should fit snugly without having to be forced into
position. After inserting, replace the screw and
usually just as expensive to renew a seat as it is
to buy a new faucet, unless it has been made with a
renewable seat. Check with your plumber about a
badly worn faucet.
cloth over finger, clean the valve seat inside the
faucet. The edge should be smooth and free from deep
nicks. If you find it badly worn, you will probably
need to replace the seat or have the entire faucet
replaced by the plumber. Otherwise, it will leak
replace the faucet stem and turn it in. Tighten the
packing nut. Be careful not to tighten the nut more
than necessary to stop seepage around the faucet
Remembering that a faucet leaking 60 drops a minute
(not unusual) will waste 2,299 gallons of water
every year. Homeowners should repair leaky faucet at
once. You pay twice - once for the water going
through the meter, and then again on your sewer
bill, which is based on water usage.
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General Care of
Today, kitchen sink bowls come in many different
materials. Although enameled cast iron remains an
attractive and durable product, many people today
are choosing bowls made of stainless steel, and
other solid surface materials for their added
durability and stain resistance.
are available in Corian, Moenstone, Swanstone,
Surrell, and others. The important thing to remember
is to follow the manufacturer's instructions
pertaining to the material of which your bowl is
constructed. With some of the solid surface
materials, scratches can be removed when lightly
sanded because the color goes throughout the
thickness of the material.
prolong the life and appearance of enameled cast
iron sinks, clean the bowl immediately after use.
Use a non-abrasive cleaner.
Constant use of abrasive cleaners can eventually
wear the finish down, making it much more porous and
susceptible to stains. This can also happen with
enameled, cast iron tubs over a long period.
allow fruit or vegetable juices or cleaning acids to
stand on surface. An acid-resisting sink will safely
resist lemon, orange, and other citrus fruit juices,
tomato juice, mayonnaise, and other vinegar
preparations if these are not permitted to remain
more than a few hours. A regular enamel finish is
not impervious to acids.
and coffee grounds will also stain enameled
surfaces, if allowed to remain very long.
Photographic solutions are even more harmful to
enamel, and the amateur photographer should not be
allowed to use the sink, because a fixture once
damaged in this way can never be corrected. When
cleaning the sink, use hot water and soap. Water and
soap are not as hard on the enameled finish as
strong cleaning solutions like washing soda or a
gritty abrasive. If a cleaner is used, it should be
one that specifically states that it is non-
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same precautions mentioned above for kitchen sink
care, pertain to lavatory bowls. Clean them often
with hot water and soap. If a cleaner or cleanser is
necessary, use one that is non-abrasive. Today, it
is easy to eliminate the use of glass bottles and
jars from the bathroom. This prevents the
possibility of chipping the lavatory bowl if
dropped. If acids or medicine spill on the surface,
wash the spills immediately.
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Modern bathtubs and showers can be made from a
myriad of materials ranging from the conventional
enameled, cast iron and steel, to fiberglass,
acrylic, and man-made materials such as cultured
marble. Many one piece tub or tub and shower
combination units are made from gel coated
fiberglass or acrylic plastic.
use abrasives on any of these materials. They can
cause scratches to the surface. Usually they will
clean with hot water and soap.
that is not sufficient, a cleaning product
recommended by the manufacturer of the fixture, or
your plumber, can be used to handle heavier cleaning
fiberglass and acrylic units, special polishes with
no abrasives are available to protect their
finishes, by sealing the pores in the material,
which makes subsequent cleaning easier. When
decorating the bathroom or repairing something near
the bathtub, place a heavy cloth over every inch of
the bathtub surface so paint, falling tools, etc.,
will not mar or chip the enameled surface. Do not
stand in the bathtub with shoes, as the nails and
grit in the soles will scratch the enameled surface.
Fiberglass and acrylic hubs should be cleaned with
non- abrasive cleansers
recommended by manufacturers.
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Closet tanks and bowls are made of vitreous china
and are impervious to ordinary household acids. If
something more than hot water and soap is needed to
clean them, apply a non- abrasive powder or cleaner
recommended by your plumber. Many good bowl cleaners
are on the market today. Most plumbers however, have
found that the "blue water" continuous bowl cleaners
tend to accelerate the deterioration of the rubber
and neoprene parts in the tank, due to the chemicals
bumpers should be replaced if worn. Defective
bumpers may cause breakage of the seat or hinges.
Stains or moisture at the base of the closet bowl
indicate that the joint or seal between the closet
and its outlet have failed and should be reset
immediately to prevent rotting of the floor, damage
to the plaster of the ceiling below, and possible
leakage of sewer gas into the home.
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Water Closet Tanks
water continues to run into the closet bowl after
the toilet is flushed, it is obvious that some part
of the mechanism is out of order.
the tank has refilled, if water continues to seep
into the bowl or if there is a low humming noise,
this indicates leakage from the tank. This leakage
can occur from either the supply valve or the
improper seating of the rubber tank ball or
(flapper) on the discharge opening.
small amount of food coloring added to the tank
water will help you determine whether the tank ball
in the bottom of the tank is leaking. Add it to the
water after the tank is filled. Watch for the
coloring to seep into the toilet bowl, and if it
does, the ball or flapper over the discharge opening
is not water tight If the rubber tank ball does not
fit tightly over the discharge opening, a defective
ball, irregular seat or bent lift wires may be
responsible. If the ball is worn out, misshapen or
has lost its elasticity and fails to drop tightly
into the hollowed seat, it should be replaced with a
new one. Sometimes the ball is covered with a slimy
coating which can easily be wiped off. To replace
the ball, shut off the water supply (a stop is
installed underneath the tank where the water may be
conveniently shut off at this point) and empty the
tank or place a stick under the ball float lever-arm
to hold it up, thereby shutting off the intake cock
and preventing the tank from refilling. Then unscrew
the ball from the lower lift wire and attach a new
ball of the same diameter as the old one.
(Note: some old tank balls swell from age and
absorption of water.)
the collar or seat of the discharge opening is
corroded or grit-covered, it should be scraped and
sand-papered until it is smooth and forms a uniform
bearing for the stopper.
Straighten or replace bent lift wires so that the
ball drops squarely into the hollowed seat.
leaky, waterlogged float ball holds the supply valve
open and does not completely shut off the water. If
the rod which connects the tank float to the supply
valve has become bent, it may prevent the float from
reaching its full height, thus leaving the valve
open and allowing leakage. This rod should be
straightened and a little oil applied to the lever
joints to insure smooth action.
Sometimes the tank will not fill sufficiently or
will fill to overflowing. These difficulties may be
corrected without disturbing the supply valve by
bending the rod attached to the tank float upward or
downward. If the rod is bent upward, the water will
rise higher in the tank, and if downward, the water
level will be lowered.
overflow tube or pipe is provided in the closet tank
to take care of the water in case it should rise
above its accustomed level which should be at least
3/4 of an inch below the top of the overflow. While
there is not much danger of its becoming stopped up,
it might be well to examine it occasionally to see
that it is in working order.
water rises to the top of the overflow pipe an
adjustment or new fill-valve assembly is necessary.
Consult your plumber if in doubt.
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Plumbing Codes, require the use of pressure balanced
bath/shower valves to prevent scalding in new homes
and remodeling. Your plumber can suggest the proper
unit for your application.
is more potential for the scalding of a person
showering if the pressure fluctuates. Most people
aren't aware that young children and older persons
can be scalded much sooner than adults. Lowering the
water temperature at the water heater will minimize
the potential danger at the tub spout or shower head
and is the best preventive action which can be taken
to prevent scalding.
small child doesn't have to soak in overly hot tap
water to get scalded. Tragically, injury can happen
literally in the blinking of an eye. 150 degree
water can scald in just 1/2 second, 140 degrees
scalds in just I second, but it takes four minutes
for water at 120 degrees to scald.
POINT OF CAUTION - - Never let a child bathe
unattended, because of the danger of scalding and
injury. In addition, always turn cold crater on
first, followed by the hot water until the desired
temperature is achieved. That way, no one is exposed
to straight hot water.
need not rush to buy another shower head if the one
you have suddenly gives off an uneven spray. It's
probably clogged with mineral deposits which build
up in the shower head and distort the shower stream.
the shower head holes are clogged, remove the face
of the shower head, clean the back surface and free
holes with a coarse needle. The latest shower heads
on the market are all self-cleaning and need no such
attention. The only positive preventive measure is
investing in a water softener. When changing shower
heads, wrap adhesive tape around the packing nut or
pad the wrench jaws with a cloth so you won't mar
Shower curtains made of fabric such as heavy drill
or canvas can be put into the washing machine or
laundry tub. All other shower curtains should be
washed by spreading flat on a table and sponging
with sudsy water. Rinse the curtain with clear
water, then wipe with a clean cloth. Turn the
curtain over and repeat on the other side. Then
replace on the shower rod and spread it out straight
to dry. While you're at it, give the shower rod a
prefabricated shower cabinets with soap and hot
water, but never with a gritty abrasive. New shower
cabinets usually have fiberglass or acrylic walls
which will not withstand heavy scouring powders. If
you stand in it to wash the inside walls of the
cabinet the receptor should be protected by a heavy
cloth or papers.
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Chrome plating is a hard and durable finish that
requires little attention except for the occasional
washing with soap and water.
air or other corrosive atmospheres have a
destructive effect on chrome. Where chromium- plated
fittings are exposed to these agents, it is
important to wash them frequently. After they are
washed and dried, it is advisable to apply a
protective coating such as ordinary furniture wax.
spots may appear on chromium plating. If this
happens, prevent the rust from spreading by scouring
the spots with the same kind of powder which
manufacturers recommend for enameled, cast iron
fixtures. When the spots have been removed, apply a
Fin of wax. Your plumber will be glad to help you
select a good cleanser.
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can't get along without hot water. Therefore, take
care of the source--the water heater.
If you have a gas or electric water heater,
keep the temperature dial setting at or below the
suggested Factory Energy Savings Settings listed on
the water heater. Above that mark means excessive
wear on the water heater and the potential for
burner of a gas-fired water heater is easily
accessible and should be checked by your plumber
periodically to keep it clear of dust or sediment.
The flame at full fire should be a light to dark
blue. If the flame is more orange or yellow, the gas
pressure or air flow needs to be adjusted.
can keep your water bills low by tempering all hot
water as it is used. Letting the hot water faucet
run on and on wastes not only water but fuel as
well. With all water heaters, plan your hot water
needs and you'll be delighted with the savings you
domestic water heaters are required to be equipped
with a relief valve as a safety feature to prevent
damage from excessive pressure and temperature.
There is always danger that this valve may become
frozen or corroded from long disuse. For this
reason, it is advisable to trip the lever of this
valve manually every two or three months to be sure
it will operate freely if an emergency arises.
Note: The discharge will be hot
water that will need to be contained in a pan or
bucket or allowed to drain to a floor drain.
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you find a leak in your plumbing system shut off the
water supply and call your plumbing contractor at
once. Water supply systems are under high pressure.
Temporary repairs are only temporary and wrapping
the pipe usually fails. Leaks must have immediate
attention, since they can progress into a serious
break in a hurry.
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Frozen plumbing pipes, although inconvenient, do not
constitute a calamity. The calamity may come if the
pipes are thawed with a blow torch, and if the open
flame or the torch is allowed to come too close to
combustible material, such as insulation, wooden
joists or flooring.
Another danger from the use of a torch arises when
both ends of a pipe are clogged with ice and when
the heat is applied in the center. The application
of the heat of the torch at the center of the pipe
is likely to cause the water to flash into steam
potentially causing an explosion with disastrous
results for the user of the torch.
far better to adopt the slower and more conservative
procedure of melting ice by the use of a blow dryer,
or heat gun.
Before the cold freezing weather sets in, make sure
that all the garden hoses outside your home are
disconnected. Failing to do so can cause not only
the hose but also the hose bib to which it is
connected, to freeze and be damaged.
is especially important with anti-freeze hydrants.
The hose must be disconnected to make the faucet
freeze-proof. Failure to do so will trap water in
the faucet body, which then can freeze. If the hose
is disconnected, the anti-freeze faucet can properly
drain, and this will prevent freezing.
pipes which are exposed to freezing temperatures or
drafts should be covered with insulation. Whenever
possible it is best to drain systems not being used
in severely cold weather. Small water pipes will
freeze quicker than will waste or sewer pipes.
leave a garage door open in severely cold weather,
if there is plumbing in the garage. The cold and
draft can freeze water lines in minutes. Pipes
located in unheated basements or garages should be
insulated with a commercial covering.
pipes are laid underground they should be below the
frost line to prevent freezing.
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Noises in the
designing the plumbing system for a new house, a
plumbing contractor will endeavor to make it as
noiseless as possible. Manufacturers of plumbing
fixings are making every effort to reduce the noise
connected with the operation of their equipment, and
contractors have been very successful in eliminating
much of the noise formerly associated with plumbing
Because so much of the noise is due to water
traveling at a high velocity, it follows that
whatever can be done to reduce the velocity of the
water will correspondingly reduce the noise in the
system. It is for this reason that it is so
important not to skimp on the size of the water
supply piping. Larger pipe will not only provide a
more adequate supply of water but will reduce noise.
are three general types of noises found in some of
the older plumbing systems. These are water hammer,
whistling and chattering.
hammer is the thump in the piping heard when faucets
or valves are turned off abruptly. There is no
excuse for water hammer. It can usually be
eliminated by the installation of an air chamber or
short length of pipe in the wall where each supply
pipe enters a plumbing fixture.
some cases, however, the ordinary type of air
chamber will not prevent water hammer. In such
cases, special devices known as shock arrestors
should be installed on the main line near the meter
or as close as possible to the cause of the noise.
Sometimes water hammer is due not to the plumbing in
the house in which it is heard but to a condition
outside of the house, either along the water main or
in a neighboring house. In such cases, skillful
detective work by an experienced master plumber is
necessary to ferret out the source of the trouble
and to plan corrective methods.
hammer should not be permitted to go on
indefinitely. The noise is only an audible symptom
of what is going on in the piping. The piping is
being subjected to the wear and tear of a multitude
of shock waves. The result will be leaks in piping,
tanks or fixtures unless the condition is corrected.
Chattering in the piping may be caused by loose
pipes, by pipes rubbing against a metal projection,
by worn faucet washers or looseness of other inside
Whistling is caused by the speed of water flowing
through piping which is usually too small. A
pressure reducing valve will help as will a general
straightening out of the plumbing system. Whistling
is most common at bends and tees in the pipe.
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"Sweating" pipes and plumbing fixtures in
summer-time or during seasonal changes are not a
sign of faulty plumbing. Due to condensation of
water vapor in the air, beads of moisture will form
in warm weather on any pipes and fixtures containing
Normally, when not in use, the water and fixtures
will worm rapidly to room temperature and the
condensation will stop. When a closet tank or other
fixture continues to sweat for hours after it has
been used, it is a sign that cold water is
continuing to flow through it, possibly due to an
improper adjustment of the tank valve or a leak.
Sweating pipes can be wrapped with an insulation
material which prevents the condensation and
formation of moisture.
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Odors in the
well-designed and correctly installed plumbing
system is odorless. Odors are most likely to arise
from leaks in the waste or vent piping or from traps
which have lost their water seal. In an incorrectly
installed system, there are, of course, many
opportunities for odors to result from defects in
the system, particularly if it is not properly
Unusual odors should never be ignored. Such odors
are often an indication that sewer gas is present.
Sewer gas, while not always deadly, is noxious and
capable of causing headaches and other minor
illnesses. Sewer gas is foul smelling air and should
be prevented from entering the house.
is suspected that sewer gas is entering through a
leak in the piping, a plumber will subject the
system to a test either by means of smoke, water or
oil of peppermint. The test will indicate the
location of the leak.
order to explain how the sewer gas may enter a house
through a plumbing fixture, it is necessary to
clarify the function of traps and vents. Every
plumbing fixture is the terminus of the city water
supply system and the beginning of the city sewerage
system. The faucets control the water supply. The
traps and vents control the sewer air. They do so by
a very simple method. Sewer air will not penetrate a
water barrier. Therefore, a device is employed which
keeps several inches of water between the house air
and the sewer air. This is the trap, which is
plainly visible under such plumbing fixtures as
sinks and lavatories. It is built into water
closets. In the case of bathtubs and shower
cabinets, it is usually concealed in the floor or
trap, however, would lose its water seal by siphonic
action every time a fixture is used unless the air
on the sewer side is balanced with the air on the
house side. This is the function of the vents.
Occasionally, due to changes in atmospheric
conditions, a compactly vented trap will lose its
Usually, however, when a trap loses its seal it is
due either to incorrect design of the vents, absence
of vents or to evaporation of the water in the trap.
Traps under fixtures that are used infrequently
should be filled with water from time to time to
insure an adequate trap seal.
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Draining Plumbing in
a Vacant House
your house is to be vacated during cold weather and
the heating system turned off, follow this
off the water supply at the main shut-off valve at
the street. Then beginning with those on the top
floor, open all faucets and leave them open. When
water stops running from these faucets, open the cap
on the main shut off valve in the basement and drain
the remaining water into a pail or tub. Remember
that this cap must be closed after the faucets have
run dry or the house water supply will flow from
this valve and flood the basement.
Remove all water in the traps under sinks, water
closets, bathtubs, and lavatories by opening the
clean out plugs at the bottom of traps and draining
them into a pail. If no plugs are provided, use a
force pump or other method to siphon the water out.
Sponge all the water out of the water closet bowl.
Clean out all water in the flush tank.
all traps with a non-freezing solution such as
mineral oil, windshield washing fluid or RV type
all hot water tanks. Most water tanks are equipped
with a vented tube at the top which lets air in and
allows the water to drain out the faucet at the
bottom. Make sure all horizontal pipes drain
properly. Air pressure will get rid of trapped water
in these pipes, but occasionally the piping may have
to be disconnected and drained. To be safe have your
plumber check your entire plumbing system.
your house is heated by hot water or steam, drain
the heating pipes and boiler before leaving. Burners
and pilots should be completely out and the main
water supply turned off at the basement wall or
street. Draw off the water from the boiler by
opening the draw-off valve at the lowest point in
the water supply valve to the boiler so no water
will be trapped above it. If you have a hot water
system, begin with the highest radiators and open
the air valve on each as fast as the water lowers.
Every radiator valve must be opened on a one inch
pipe system to release condensation.
Note: When you return home, refill all the
systems BEFORE lighting the hot water heater or
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Where and How to
Shut Off Water
Knowing where and how
to shut off water for the entire house or any part
of it can be mighty important in an emergency.
That's why it is extremely important for all members
of the family to know where the valves are and in
which direction they should be turned to shut off
way to identify the valves is to have a tag on each
valve indicating its function, that is, which
fixtures or group of fixtures it controls. Valve-
identifying tags may be obtained from plumbing
dealers. Many plumbers are glad to offer a valve
tagging service to their customers or prospective
Another method of identification is by means of a
valve chart. Because this is somewhat more
elaborate, it is usually employed only for houses
with several bathrooms. A drawing is made of the
basement piping with all the valves indicated. The
valves are numbered on the chart and tags with
corresponding numbers are placed on the valves.
Still another idea which aids in identification is
to paint pipes a distinctive color.
Obviously, the most important valve in the house is
the main shut-off valve for the entire plumbing
system. This valve, generally located on the house
side of the water meter, usually has a handle like a
wheel If it has not been used in many years, it may
require a wrench to turn it. Because the easy
operation of this valve in case of emergency is so
important, it is advisable to place a few drops of
oil around the valve handle once or twice a year.
This will prevent the sticking action of corrosion.
shut-off valve may be the ground-key type with a
small hole bored in its side for draining the pipes
after the water is shut off or it may be a drain and
stop with a cap nut covering the drain opening. In
either case, close the opening before turning the
water off. Unless this is done, water will spurt
no means has been provided for shutting off a drain
opening, drive a small wooden peg into it until the
pressure is relieved by draining the piping that is
addition to the main strut-off valve at the meter,
the well plumbed house has individual shut-off
valves on the branch lines leading to individual
fixtures, groups of fixtures or equipment such as
water heaters, water softeners, automatic washers,
contractors, when installing plumbing fixtures,
provide separate strut-off valves or stops for each
individual fixture. These will be found on the
supply lines below the fixture. These individual
stops are a great convenience to regulate water flow
in case of repairs as well as emergencies.
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agencies, through the enforcement of the Federal
Clean Water Act, were given the task of protecting
our potable water supplies. It clarified that water
purveyors must protect the public water supply from
contamination by an outside source, through
implementation of a Backflow Prevention Program.
Conformance to these state requirements minimizes
the possibility for the water using public to
inadvertently contaminate or pollute the domestic
water system or the public water supply.
program requires the installation of a backflow
prevention device in the plumbing system where the
possibility of a cross connections may take place. A
cross connection. is an arrangement of piping or
faucets which allows the potable water supply to
come into contact with a contaminant.
example of a potential cross connection is a lawn
irrigation systems, where fertilizers, chemicals or
other contaminants can come into contact with the
potable water supply through the irrigation heads.
are several types of backflow prevention devices
used today. The type of device is determined by the
degree of hazard presented by the possible "cross
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Testing of Backflow
the case of a residential or commercial irrigation
system, a reduced pressure principle backflow pre-venter
(RP device or RPZ) is required between the potable
water supply and the irrigation system. These
devices are not only required by law, but also due
to the requirements of the backflow prevention
program the devices are required to be tested
annually by a certified backflow prevention tester.
The annual test is to ensure that the device is
working properly and is a requirement of the areas'
cross connection control program.
licensed plumbing contractors have one or more
certified testers in their employ and will be happy
to provide this service for you.
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Leakage from an RP
Leakage from a backflow pre-venter is normally
attributed to foreign matter lodging on the seating
area of the internal check valve seats. The majority
of the time this can be corrected by simply flushing
the device which will dislodge any loose particles.
However, the spillage from the dump port does
provide a "warning signals that the device is in
need of maintenance. The needed service should be
performed by a Certified Backflow Prevention Tester.
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Sump Pump. If you have a sump pump, be sure that
it is always in good operating condition so that it
will be ready to function when it is needed. Oil it
carefully in accordance with the manufacturer's
instructions. Make it operate occasionally by
tripping the lever after filling the basin
particularly with water. Unless you do this every
three or four months, there is danger that corrosion
may cause a sticking of the shaft when operation is
Backwater Valve. The function of this valve is
to prevent the sewer from backing up into the house
during heavy rains. Most backwater valves operate
automatically. A valve with a butterfly action
closes against the sewer on the house side.
Sometimes however, debris lodges against the seat of
the valve so that it cannot close tightly. There are
also manually operated valves, that have a wheel
handle to shut them down. Sometimes, debris (mop
strings, etc.) can accumulate or collect near the
valve seat, which prevents it from closing tightly.
With automatic backwater valves, removing the lid,
cleaning the seat, and greasing the hinge pin on the
valve gate annually will guarantee that the valve
will operate as expected when it is called upon to
prevent the water from coming into your basement.
With the manual type of valve it is best to operate
this valve manually every six months in order that
(1) all members of the family may be familiar with
the location of the valve with its function, and
where the wheel for manual operation is stored; and
(2) in order that the manual operation may keep the
valve free from corrosion and lessen the chances for
debris interfering with the valves closing.
Vapors from flammable liquids can explode and catch
fire, causing death or severe burns. That is
why it's vitally important, that you should NEVER
use flammable liquids such as gasoline, adhesive
solvents, lighter fluid, mineral spirits, paint
thinner and kerosene, around water heaters,
furnaces, or any appliance with the potential for
flame or sparks.
flammable products far away from the water heater or
furnace, stored in an approved container, tightly
closed and out of children's' reach.
Flammable products, improperly stored or used near
an open flame give off invisible vapors that can
travel the length of a house and be ignited by any
of a dozen or more household sources of flame or
spark. A few precautionary measures can prevent a
tragedy from taking place.
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When Calling the
can help your plumber by telling him, to the best of
your knowledge, exactly what's wrong when you talk
to him on the telephone.
the water closet is leaking, tell him it's the water
closet. If it's the lavatory, don't merely say that
"there's a leak in the bathroom" and expect him to
tell you what to do until he gets there.
are a thousand and one tools and parts in his
plumbing store, and he can't be expected to carry
them all. So, when you ask for his help, give him as
much information as you can. When he arrives, tell
him everything that has been done to the defective
part of the plumbing. It will speed his work and
lower your plumbing bill.
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buying just a basic plumbing part you have many
options such as Home Centers, Hardware Stores and
Plumbing Supply Stores and more.
The "best" is generally your local true plumbing
store that also sells to plumbers. They will have
top quality brands and the brands that they offer
generally won't be changing weekly/monthly/yearly
like many home centers. They also normally will
stock parts for the products that they sell.
Buying on the net is fun and easy as well. On the
Internet buy from mail-order companies that have
been in business for a while rather than the brand
new ones. The new Internet companies seem to come
and go and just like local suppliers it's a good
idea to buy from a company that will be there