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When to Leave it to a Professional Plumber

Posted on by webeditors

For hundreds of years homeowners have fought against the demons of disrepair and decay by themselves. In Europe, it was common practice up until the mid 1800s to throw refuse and garbage into a central drain in the street. Internal plumbing wasn’t common in European cities until the latter half of the 1800s due to the cost and availability. Common knowledge of plumbing is something handed down from generation to generation. Everyone knows that pipes are required to move water or sewage from one place to another but the hows of hooking these pipes up correctly to each other for an air-tight seal, cutting, measuring, or knowing what diameters or parts to buy can be very confusing for the homeowner who has never encountered the details of plumbing before.

Saving money also means saving time. For larger projects, the cost of hiring labor might seem like an acceptable justification for not making the call to a plumber to begin with, but the homeowner must be aware that a plumber is trained and licensed to know the ins and outs of his business.

This added labor cost pays for that expertise so the job is done correctly the first time in the quickest manner possible. Jobs like replacing the O-ring for a toilet or installing a French drain in the yard to handle a sink hole look very easy in a series of pictures marking each step of the process, but the homeowner and the article writer might not anticipate the exact situation that might exist in reality. The installation guide might be using out of date fixtures or have optimal conditions which cannot be guaranteed in a real world situation. Free labor means your labor; the homeowner grunting and cursing under a sink, half blinded in one eye by sweat and a hot light smoking your hair behind you, your back bent into a cabinet four inches off the hard tile with no padding or support…as you realize you’re lying on your keys. No one likes being in this situation.


Common pitfalls

For those that plan on toughing it through the little stuff, keep in mind these simple tips.

  1. Don’t over tighten – The tendency of the inexperienced plumber is to make sure “it’s tight,” so the water won’t leak. Licensed and trained plumbers use tapes and adhesives to bond chemically PVC Plastic in pipes to each other to ensure the seal. Though many pipe parts  include threading to assist the gripping capabilities of these materials, the majority of the work is done by the chemistry itself. The novice to plumbing repair may not trust this process as much as they do their own elbow grease, so they go tighter and tighter until- a leak. Why? This is due to many plumbing parts housing an internal rubber seal that can crack, warp, and leak. Another reason is stripping the threading itself. This allows small holes for liquid to leak out.


  2. Use Plumber’s tape and putty – Chemically ensured to tighten seals and prevent leaks. In this case, more is better than less. For tape, completely wrapping the threading and having a bit of tape exposed over the fitting is perfectly acceptable. For Plumber’s putty, over-applying will only mean that the putty forces itself into tight spaces. When the fixture’s installation is complete and before the putty can harden, quickly wipe up excess that has squeezed out of cracks with a dry work towel. This also creates a clean seal.


  3. Inadequate drain slope – Building codes allow as little as a 1/16th in. per ft. of slope in rare cases, but the ideal is 1/4th in. per foot slope. This is to allow gravity to pull the water down. If an improper slope is installed, this could cause back ups, leaks, drainage problems, slab leaks, back flows, and other nasty occurrences best avoided by following the 1/4th in. per foot slope rule. This magical number is slow enough for solid wastes to pass but quick enough to scour the sized to prevent blockage. Oversloped pipes are as likely to cause problems and undersloped pipes. If you are unfamiliar with the geometry and math required to plan, plot, and measure this slope, hire JC Plumbers to guarantee the job is done right.


  4. Unvented traps – Plumbing traps exist to establish a sanitary barrier between the living spaces and the sewage system. Waste water and excrement is very pungent. Because of this, plumbers have figured out how to use physics to their advantage.  Sewer gas wants to travel upwards as it is lighter than liquids and solids which need to travel downwards. To push the solids and liquids down without allowing the gas to burp upwards, plumbers employ a trap system of a U-bend pipe to create a pocket of water as a barrier between both spaces. The inexperienced might forget to install a trap-arm to ensure a steady flow. This arm prevents explosive methane gas and vermin access into the home.
Posted in: Helpful Tips and Hints

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