The Keys to Problem-Free Bathroom Plumbing

It’s easy to take things like running water, flush toilets, and drains for granted until something goes wrong. Repairs can be time-consuming if done by the homeowner or expensive if a professional is called in. Taking care that all installations are properly done will keep problems to a minimum. An understanding of the basics of plumbing is helpful to anyone responsible for a structure with running water, whether they plan to do their own maintenance or use a professional plumber.

The typical bathroom has three main fixtures, the toilet, the sink, and the shower/bathtub combination. A basic kitchen may have one sink, a garbage disposer, a dishwasher, and an exhaust fan. Both bathroom and kitchen will need vents, drains, and supply lines.

New construction, adding onto an existing structure, or remodeling calls for advance planning to minimize future problems and to adhere to local building codes. Several basic rules must be taken into account with each project to allow plumbing to work properly under all conditions.

Pipes for a kitchen often run through exterior walls. In areas with cold winters, supply pipes and drainpipes must be well-insulated. To reduce the risk of frozen pipes, lines can be routed through the basement.

Water runs downhill. This rule of physics is important in plumbing. All drain pipes should have a slope of at least 1/8th to 1/4th per running foot for best performance. The right joins and connections also keep clogging and leaks to a minimum.

Leaks will happen as pipes corrode and washers wear out. Having easily-accessible stop valves will keep damage to a minimum and make repairs easier to execute. The right parts for each fixture are important. Washers come in different shapes and sizes, and using the right one will ensure a proper seal.

Installations must be sturdy. Exposed pipes, such as found under sinks in both bath and kitchen, may be bumped. Structural components of the house that are compromised during installation, like joists and studs, should be reinforced after the plumbing is installed.

The correct materials should be used for each function and fixture. Different parts of the system may call for copper, PVC, or steel pipes. There are specifications that detail which size pipe will work best for a particular function.

Electric wires and gas lines also run through walls. Extreme care must be taken to make sure that plumbing does not interfere with these systems.

Building codes set rules for plumbing and electrical work. These guidelines are made for safety and to set standards for contractors and homeowners who do their own work. New installations must pass inspection. It is also possible to have plans for future work inspected before the project is begun.

Advance planning can keep problems from being built into the system.

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