A Plumber Can Help You Keep Your Water Supply Lines in Good Condition
Freedom Plumbing is a profession that requires a significant amount of technical knowledge and skills. It also relies on soft skills such as communication and customer service.
Plumbers are typically independent, stable individuals who enjoy work that is physically demanding and challenging. They are also detail-oriented and practical.
The water supply pipes in a home or commercial building provide fresh, clean drinking water. This is an essential service, but it can also be a source of contamination and corrosion. A plumber can help you keep your water supply lines in good condition and avoid problems like a slow leak.
Several codes and standards dictate methods for sizing water supply piping systems. Currently, two major codes are in use in the United States: the Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) and the International Plumbing Code (IPC). These codes set velocity limitations on hot and cold water lines, as well as other sizing criteria.
Water supply pipe sizing begins by tabulating and summarizing the number of plumbing fixtures within a building. Then, the total fixture units can be converted into a flow rate using a table or chart such as Hunter’s Curve. For example, a building with 20 gravity tank water closets and 30 lavatories needs 92 water supply fixture units. These units can be calculated by using UPC table 610.3 or IPC table E103.3(2).
Next, the available pressure at the city water supply connection point is determined. Then, hydraulic calculations are completed based on the building’s location and design water supply requirements. The results of this calculation determine the size and location of water supply pipes.
The sizing of water supply pipes is important because they are full of pressurized water on a continuous basis, unlike drain line piping, which can empty out during a pipe freeze. If the piping is too small, it will cause problems such as low water pressure. If the piping is too large, it will cause overflows during use and may even rupture when under pressure.
Another common problem with water supply pipes is contamination by old galvanized iron or other materials. This can result in a corrosive slime that builds up in the pipes, inhibiting their function and lowering their performance. It is important for homeowners and business owners to understand the basic functions of their plumbing water supply lines so they can recognize issues, describe them accurately to contractors over the phone, and competently deal with emergencies or other problems.
The drainage system carries wastewater and sewage away from plumbing fixtures. It does not depend on pressure like supply systems do; instead, waste matter leaves a fixture through drain pipes that pitch, or angle, downward to the sewer line. This enables gravity to pull the waste toward the sewer line, which runs to a municipal sewer main or septic tank on the property.
If you notice water backing up from floor drains in your home, it is likely because of a clog in the main sewer line. Without a route to the sewer line, all the waste that is trying to leave your home has nowhere to go and is forced back up through other drain lines, including sinks, tub and shower drains, and toilets.
One way to help prevent drain clogs is to use hair and grease traps in kitchen and bathroom fixtures. These catch grease, soap scum, and other substances that can clog drain lines. Another good way to keep your drains clear is to flush them regularly with hot water. The heat from the hot water helps dissolve any grease that has accumulated in the drains, and hot water also breaks down solid waste such as hair and food scraps.
Plumbing connections use special seals to prevent leaks. Some, such as the wax ring in toilets, can break down over time and allow sewer gas to escape into indoor spaces. Professional plumbers use a device called a “smoke test” to detect broken seals and other problems in the drainage system.
Keeping your drainage channels free of obstructions is important, especially after heavy rains. The water from rainfall washes debris into the drains, such as branches, leaves, and trash, which can clog them. You should have your drains cleaned after major rainstorms to avoid backups and flooding.
Occasionally, you may need to replace the drain seals in your plumbing system. This is particularly true if you have older pipes that are starting to wear out. Newer seals are made of a more durable material that is resistant to damage from chemicals and roots.
The septic system is an on-site sewage treatment system that processes waste and sludge in homes where a city sewer system isn’t available. All drains in a home converge at the septic tank, which is buried underground or above ground, depending on the site. The tank holds wastewater from toilets, sinks, showers, and appliances until solid waste settles to the bottom of the tank (known as sludge) and a layer of grease, oils, and fats rises to the top (referred to as scum). Bacteria inside the tank break down these byproducts. Liquid waste, or effluent, exits the tank through an outlet pipe into a soil disposal field, also called a drainfield, where the liquid waste percolates through the soil for final sewage treatment.
Problems with a septic system often stem from improper use of the system or environmental factors. If you suspect there’s a problem with your plumbing, promptly contact a professional plumber to diagnose the issue before it becomes worse.
One common problem is when the inlet baffle to the septic tank gets blocked with debris, such as tree roots. Luckily, this is an easy fix for the right service technician. To unclog the inlet baffle, place a stick into the opening and push gently. When you feel resistance, mark where the stick meets the bottom of the inlet baffle with a marker. Repeat this process until the sludge is gone and the inlet baffle is clear.
Another common issue is when the drainfield fails to treat wastewater properly. This may be due to excessive water flowing into the system, or it can occur when the soil and clay in the drainfield are too dense for the liquids to percolate through them. In either case, a qualified plumber will be able to recommend the best course of action to remedy the situation.
Other issues may include clogged toilets or gurgling sinks, wet or soggy areas around the drainfield, and odors near the septic system. It’s important to regularly check the septic tank and drainfield for these issues because the failure of either component can lead to backup into your home.
The water heater is the plumbing appliance that heats incoming cold water to your home so it can run appliances and fixtures such as your dishwasher, clothes washer, showers and tubs, or even your sinks and faucets. It can be fueled by gas, electricity, liquid propane, or oil, or a combination of these, as well as solar energy.
A hot water heater can generate a lot of pressure, so it’s important that the tank is surrounded by a sturdy, heat-resistant drain pan. It’s also a good idea to place a pressure relief valve on the water heater, which is located near the bottom and is designed to relieve excess pressure when it builds up.
If you have a gas water heater, it should be vented to the outside of your home through a pipe that runs to the roof and vents out through the chimney. This helps reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if the water heater malfunctions and produces a leak.
An electric water heater can be vented to the outside through a duct running from the top of the unit to the wall or floor and out through an access panel. An electric water heater can also be plugged into a 240-volt electrical circuit, so you’ll need to be sure there’s enough capacity in your home’s breaker box to handle it.
Water heaters are usually located in a garage, basement, or utility room in most homes. If you’re installing one in a new house, it can be difficult to determine where the best location is and how large a unit you need. It’s a good idea to consult with a professional plumber when you’re planning to install a new hot water heater.
The dip tube that brings in cold water to the water heater will often break and detach from its inside-the-tank position, dropping down to the bottom of the tank. This causes cold water to enter the heater tank and warm up, but it’s not heated to your desired temperature. It will then be removed by the hot-water outlet at the top of your water heater for distribution to the taps in your home.