Plumbing

See also
"Heating a home"

Parts of the plumbing system

The plumbing system of the modern home has three principal divisions. The first contains the Water service pipe, which conveys water from the source into the house, and the supply pipes which distribute it to the second part, the fixtures. These are the receptacles and outlets which enable us to use and dispose of the water supply. The third part of the system is composed of the drainage and vent pipes which enable water and sewage to move unimpeded from the fixtures to the point of disposal. If rain water connections are linked to the house drainage pipes, they too are considered part of the house plumbing system.

Operation of the system depends on the proper design and integration of each of the components. Since each part of the system is designed for a specific purpose, its use is, logically, limited. Grease and refuse should not be thrown into water closet bowls and sinks; faucets not in use should be tightly closed; and waste pipes should be flushed frequently with hot water to keep them in good working order.

Water supply

Water for household use comes from many different sources. Your first concern as a user is an abundant supply of wholesome water. In the interests of comfort and convenience, as well as health, you should learn what kind of water you have. Occasionally water that is perfectly safe to drink adds an undesirable flavor to beverages and food and stains articles or corrodes piping.

Once assured that your water supply is hygienic and palatable, you should determine whether it is hard or soft, corrosive or non-corrosive. No general statement can be made about corrosiveness - it varies greatly with the composition of the water and with the material used for piping. Check local experience. The following discussion is based on general experience but may be contradicted by the facts in your area.

Water in certain areas contains enough mineral to cause scale accumulation in piping systems, boilers, etc. At best, such water will leave a scum on bathtubs and other fixtures. Such waters are "hard." They require excessive quantities of soap for cleaning. Water-softening equipment is recommended where your water supply is of this type.

Ordinarily "soft" water does not deposit scale and lathers freely. However, certain types of soft water are "aggressive." They may be harmless to drink and will make plenty of suds but may cause objectionable tastes in food and beverages and will corrode all types of metallic pipe, tubing, or containers.

Where soft water is so aggressive as to cause an objectionable staining, or discoloring, the suggested solution is to obtain anti-corrosion equipment. It is well to note that the water rather than the piping causes the trouble. If your water comes from, a public utility, you can be assured that the water is healthy; it may be non-corrosive in character. If your supply is private, consult the manufacturers of watertreatment devices, should you encounter any of the aforementioned difficulties.

Design of the system

The water available at a fixture depends on the pressure in the main, the diameter of the supply pipe, its length, and the number of changes in its course, and the number of fixtures that may be operated simultaneously.

Selection of the kind of pipe to be used in supplying your fixtures with water demands great care. It may be conventionable piping made of galvanized steel, wrought iron, brass or copper, or copper tubing. The type of piping selected should offer maximum resistance to the corrosive qualities of the water it is to carry, as small-sized pipes that have corroded will considerably reduce the water volume available at faucets. Homeowners frequently blame low pressures in the mains for faults that actually are within their own water-service system.

Where water-supply pressures are excessive, water waste results, and unnecessary wear of valve seats is apt to cause continuous leakage. This condition can be remedied by installing pressure-reducing valves.

Fixtures

Fixtures are the receptacles and outlets which enable us to use and dispose of the water supply. They include such things as sinks, tubs, showers, water closets, and outside faucets, such as are used for watering the lawn and washing the car.

From a sanitary viewpoint, plumbing fixtures should be made of smooth non-absorbent materials, free of concealed fouling surfaces or enclosures. They should be functional in design and easy to clean. This mill deter dirt accumulations, dampness, odors, and the presence of insects and fungi.

When selecting fixtures, bear the above in mind. Remember that even the costliest and most modern fixtures won't function properly if the supply and drainage systems are inadequate.

The drainage and venting system

The drainage or waste system is the most complex member of a well-designed plumbing installation. It is composed of two parts: the pipes which convey solid and liquid wastes to the house sewer, and the venting system, which facilitates the rapid removal of odors and gases from, and allows air to circulate within, the drainage system.

That portion of the drainage system which convoys liquid and solid wastes to the house sewer begins with the fixture trap, which is usually located directly behind and below the fixture. Traps are constructed to prevent the backpassage of air or gas through a pipe or fixture without materially reducing the flow of sewage and waste water. As the fixture discharges, a portion of the fluid is retained in the trap where it remains to form a liquid seal that prevents the gases that circulates within the drainage system from entering the room. Water closets have built-in traps.

Piping that carries the discharges of water closets is called soil pipe. Pipes receiving the discharge of other fixtures are called waste pipes. Indirect wastes are those not directly connected to the house drain, soil, or waste stack, such as that which draws off refrigerator drippings. The term stack is used to describe any vertical line of soil, waste, or vent piping.

The main of any drainage system of horizontal, vertical, or continuous piping is that part which receives the wastes, vents, or back vents from outlets or traps, either directly or through branch pipes which extend from the main to the fixture outlet.

The house drain is normally the lowest piping of the, drainage system. It receives the discharge from soil, waste, and other drainage pipes, and extends to the outside of the house foundation wall, where the house sewer begins.

As stated above, the drainage system allows air to enter and circulate within, and gases to escape from, the drainage system. This portion of piping is known as the venting system. To obtain some idea of its importance, perform the following, experiment. Fill an empty cardboard milk container with water, invert it, and allow the water to drain. Notice the time required for the container to empty. Refill the container and repeat the procedure. Once the water begins to flow, punch several holes in the container bottom. Notice how rapidly and easily the water flows out.

Similarly, the venting system allows the air ahead of a discharge in the drainage pipes to escape. Moreover, the air that reenters the system behind the discharge helps to speed it to the house sewer. Furthermore, the circulation of air within the drainage system helps to reduce corrosion.

The primary importance of the vent system is to prevent siphonage of the fixture vent traps by supplying air near the trap so there will be an equal supply of air on both sides of it. The water in the trap prevents sewer gas from going through the trap and out the fixture. The next most important function of the venting system is to allow air to be pushed ahead of a discharge without building up back pressure in the drainage system.

Regulations

Because the water supply and drainage systems vitally influence the health and well-being of the entire community, municipalities and towns have enacted regulations concerning the design and installation of plumbing systems. These steps were taken to prevent and correct faulty plumbing practices.

Never undertake major plumbing repairs, installations, or improvements without a thorough knowledge of local regulations. In some instances it will be found that only certain types of pipe may be used. You may also find that certain installations may only be done by a licensed plumber. In other instances, plumbing work will have to be approved by an official inspector before it may be put into use.

Plumbing basics

Bathroom
Bathroom fixtures
Bathroom floor plans
Bathtub installation
Installing lavatory
Water closet install

Cesspool / septic tanks

Drainage
Fixture pipes
House drain
House sewer
Sizing
Soil stack
Vent piping

Finishing touch

Heating a home


Kitchen

Dishwasher install
Garbage disposer install
Kitchen plans
Kitchen sink installation
Laundry install
Room plans
Work areas

Pipes
Brass
Cast Iron
Copper
Steel

Plumbing layout
Pipe plan
Roughing-in
Water distributing

Repairs
Faucet repair
Pipe problems
Repair other
Toilet repair


Tools

Plumbing materials
Specialty tools

Water Supply

Hot water heaters
Running pipes
Service connection
Testing
Water meter
Water savings

Wells / pumps