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Frequently asked questions
about plumbing

Toilets, The ones that work!
What is a vent, and what does it do for the plumbing system?

How do I add plumbing in the basement if the sewer line is higher than the fixtures?
Why is an airgap important?
Why does my water heater run out so quickly now?
How do I keep from being "shocked" in the shower? (Hey who flushed the toilet?)
How to remove a cast iron tub
Installing a Oneliner shower liner
Jetted tub installation
Septic Tank Links
Piping Information
Water Pressure Reducing Valve Watts 25AUB
Water Pressure Reducing Valve Honeywell Braukmann D05
What does a three handle valve look like?
Qest« plastic water pipe Polybutylene
Toilet Repair, Toiletology 101
Hunter, Korky and Toto fill valves

Who was the first woman master plumber?
Sewage ejectors
Water hammer
Water pipe sizing

Smoke testing leaks
Kitchen remodel
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Q.What is a vent, and what does it do for the plumbing system?

A. If you look on your roof, you will see pipes sticking out of the roof aprox 12" high.  For every pipe that goes down, one needs to go up.  The obvious reason we have vents is that sewer gases need to be vented outside of the dwelling.  Not so obvious is what happens if they are not included in the waste and vent design.  Imagine yourself at McDonalds drinking a soda from a straw.  If you put your thumb over the straw, you can pull liquid up from the cup. Remove the thumb and see it instantly drain out!  When liquid goes down a pipe, air needs to follow it.  Without the vent pipe, the draining liquid will try to suck air through the P-traps on the plumbing fixtures,(tub, sink, etc.) glurp, glurp!  If it manages to do so, you may know it from the "smell" coming from the now dry seal on the P-trap. Without vents, draining one fixture may cause another fixture in the house to back up, yuck! A waste and vent system should keep sewer gas out of the dwelling and drain every fixture well.  
top of page            Terry Love


Q. How do I add plumbing if the sewer line is higher than the fixtures?

A. A sewer ejector pump is the answer.  Kits come with the sump basin, sewer ejector pump, check-valve.  The waster line is run into the sump basin, pumped through a checkvalve into  the sewer line that grades with gravity.  A vent pipe needs to be run also, (you can't pump out without replacing the air, it's like trying to suck air out of a bottle) If you add a high water alarm, which is a good idea. It is run off of a separate electrical breaker (insurance) to let you know if the pump isn't working before it's flood time.  The check valve makes sure, that what you pump out, stays out. Otherwise the pump will keep cycling.
click here for pictures

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Q. Why is an airgap important?

A. Plumbing codes call for a gap between potable water and a drain.  This usually looks like the distance between the faucet and the top of the sink or bathtub (one inch or more).  Without the "gap",  waste water could siphon back into the drinking supply.  This "does" happen in situations where a city main is shut off causing a drain-down of the system with plumbing that has been done improperly.  Sometimes it is a hose left in a mud puddle, or maybe a hose lying in bleach water.  People have died this way. The plumbing code helps protect the general public from these dangers. Current improvements include antisiphon faucets for garden hoses, the air gap for the dishwasher, proper installation of water heater T&P relief drains, and backflow preventers for irrigation systems.        Terry Love

for more information on airgaps, Backflow Prevention TechZone
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Q. Why does my water heater run out so quickly now?

A. Several things could happen.  First check the shower head volume if shower's are too quick.  A new shower head puts out about 2.5 gallons a minute.  Some older heads put out 5 gallons a minute.  Working with the shower head would double shower length in this case.  

In some cases, the dip tube on the cold water inlet has broken or worn. When this happens, it creates a short loop for the water, water at the bottom  half of the tank will not be used.

On electric  water heaters, they commonly have two heating elements that work in turns.  First the top element heats up the top of the tank, then power goes to the lower element.  If the lower element is out, only the top of the tank gets heated.  If the top element isn't working, there will be no hot water.

Sometimes the Reset button needs to be pushed  or reset. If this doesn't get the element working, use a continuity tester to determine if the element has shorted out.  Replacement of the element may be needed.
 Terry Love
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Q. How do I keep from being "shocked" in the shower?

A. At Rough-In time, It is important to run pipes with enough volume and pressure so that many fixtures can be used at the same time.  I usually run only two fixtures on a 1/2" line; so a standard bathroom would have a 3/4" line for cold until one fixture is taken off. A 1/2" line for the hot is fine, tub and lav.

Another nice item that is  plumbing code in many areas now,  is the pressure balanced tub and shower valves.  A single handle valve that balances the hot and cold water to try to maintain a temperature range plus or minus 2 degrees.          Terry Love
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Q. How do I remove a cast iron tub?

Removing a bathtubA. You are about to tackle one of my favorite jobs, removing a cast iron tub. Cast iron tubs weigh about 300 pounds. They are hard to install when new and almost impossible to remove and useless to anyone but a metal salvage outfit.
1. remove the waste & overflow drain fittings. the top part is held on with screws, the bottom drain fitting, threads into a receiving female thread. Tools are sold for removing the lower drain fitting, ( a tub tool)
2. lay a plastic sheet over the tub, and put on eye protection. (the plastic sheet helps to keep the glass from flying up and cutting skin). use a sledge hammer to break the tub up, starting at the mid point, breaking the tub at least into quarters.
3. carry out in pieces.

Always install a new waste & overflow drain. If you use a tub drain with slip joint nuts, keep with the brass body ones. The lift linkage on the ABS drains don't last very long. Some local plumbing inspectors require tub drains with no slip joint fittings, (ABS glued fittings) I prefer the brass bodied ones such as the Price Pfister 19-010
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Q. Septic Tank Links

Planting over the Drainfield
Florida Agricultural Info./Maintaining a Septic Tank


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