Fine-tuning your plumbing system

Fine-tuning your plumbing system can pay rich dividends

If you thought that installing the plumbing system was all about pipes and pliers and nuts and bolts, you’d be way off the mark – the artistic master stroke of the efficient plumber can transform a dreary job into an aesthetically pleasing marvel, and what you envision in the final analysis could truly be a work of art. Designing and installing a plumbing system from scratch is not child’s play because the degree of expertise that you display will determine how successfully the system works in a problem free manner. Undertaking installation in a systematic and methodical manner, and working according to an inspirational blueprint can save the day and ensure years of problem free usage.

Kick starting seemingly small issues that delay projects

9Whenever you initiate any task, your immediate priority should be to avoid collateral damage to old fittings and your existing walls and flooring. It is inevitable that older fittings will succumb to pressure and may break and crumble. Where simple repairs will do the trick, proceed with all speed, but when a replacement is the order of the day, never compromise because the band-aided pipe or fitting could give way when you are least prepared.

There are simple tips for starting the job like using two wrenches – one for stabilizing the fixture while you wrench the pipe connecting to it. If you do the work carefully, you will notice any weakening or crumbling of materials that would indicate that you go slow and reconsider your options. Keeping a fire extinguisher handy (for emergencies), try gently heating the fixture at the joint connecting to the pipe and apply the wrench, albeit slowly. The only danger is old insulation and wood catching fire, hence the friendly extinguisher.

The uniform plumbing code and why you need to know it top to bottom

Depending on your location and county regulations, there will be a plumbing code that you are ordained to follow, and following it is a must because a home with a well-designed plumbing system that is installed as per engineering certified standards ensures not only proper sanitation, safety and security but also enhances your comfort. You could start with the external drainage system as those pipes are bulkier and easier to handle than internal piping that defies gravity and moves in all directions through a maze of twists and turns. The size of the pipes, the materials you use and the workmanship should strictly abide by the laid down codes. If you decide to spend some time at the University library, you could access the Uniform plumbing code that will present an illustrated guide to what you can do, and more importantly what you should know before you embark on your plumbing master plan.

One of the crucial aspects in laying drainage pipes is giving a ¼ inch drop for every foot that the pipe runs, creating a sloping gradient that works on gravity to optimize quick waste disposal. The steeper the drainage gradient, the more efficient will be your waste clearance. If you are working on an older home it would be pertinent to understand the fact that these homes usually maintain smaller drains for all outlets except that of the toilet, which is a major reason why they usually clog up faster. The new plumbing design you are working on should veer away from this handicap and remove its shortcomings.

If you plan to use a larger drain pipe make sure it is legal and it conforms to the plumbing code. In older designs the waste disposal pipe was made of lead and we had the main waste coming out of a toilet stub with the tub, shower and wash basin drain connecting to the toilet stub, but this can now be changed. In the more efficient plumbing system the waste pipes connect separately to the main drain just below the toilet stub, and that creates fewer clogs. Since lead has its limitations in patching and connecting, we can now expect rubberized couplings and stainless steel sleeves to do a more efficient job in keeping the pipe connections stable and strong.

Sundry tips for optimizing the efficiency of new plumbing systems

1. Study the plumbing code and install vents near the drainage pipes which will speed up the flow of waste down the drain, and gather excess water in traps to block sewer gas emissions from passing back into the home. These vents are highly recommended and a must to optimize plumbing efficiency.

2. A very basic precaution is to shut off the water supply to any pipe or drain that you could be working on, as this prevents your job from creating a larger mess than you can handle. You must also flush all toilets to ensure you won’t be at the receiving end of someone’s unintentional toilet use.

3. The ideal plumbing system conserves water and allows you to use fixtures without depleting your water reserves unnecessarily. Taps and faucets should be in top notch condition to avoid leakages and frequent water dripping. It is counterproductive to spend a ton on a new plumbing system, only to persevere with antique taps and grandfather’s sentimental value faucets. Using water conserving toilets and faucets is one solution to ensure the right amount of water is used per flush or cleaning work. Using high quality and durable American Standard for toilets is a good beginning.

4. Pipes bring water into the home and flush waste out of it, and there begins another story because the quality and make of pipes needs to be changed to suit varying purposes. Generally ABS piping is perfect for waste disposal, and PEX or copper piping is best when you are aiming for safer water supply to the home.

A good plumbing system should work silently, unobtrusively and efficiently, and the way to make that happen is through proper planning, with a keen understanding of the operational dynamics of the system. Whichever way you implement the design, ensure that every nook and cranny is accessible for easier maintenance. Never compromise on the sizing of pipes, and the materials that you employ that should be standardized and codified for maximum safety.

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