slip joint reliability and ferncos

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by adrianmariano, Jan 29, 2007.

  1. adrianmariano

    adrianmariano New Member

    Messages:
    79
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    I'm planning to redo my kitchen sink soon, and I was looking in Rex Cauldwell's book on Remodel Plumbing and noticed that he recommends a completely different drainage setup than what I understand to be the norm.

    The usual pattern would be to connect the sinks together with a T which feeds into the trap and then out to the drain line. Many of the connections here are done with slip joints. Cauldwell claims that slip joints tend to fail after a few years or if they get bumped, and he sees tons of rotted out kitchen cabinets as a result of this construction. He also complains that this pattern uses pipes which are quite narrow and constrict the flow too much. (And I have to admit that some of the T connectors I've seen do have only a 1/2 inch wide space at the intersection.)

    Instead he recommends a drainage pattern where he uses 90 degree fernco connectors at each sink and connects to sch 40 1.5 inch pipe which he runs horizontally from each sink towards the back of the cabinet. He then runs those lines down the back of the cabinet, joints them with a Y fitting, followed by the trap, and then a final fernco connector to go into the drain. (Part of his goal is to get the drainage stuff back and out of the way.) Everything is glued together except the fernco connectors. He claims that these ferncos are less likely to leak than the slip joints, even in environments where the drainage gets bumped around a lot. If you need to open it up to clean out the trap or snake the drain you disconnect the ferncos.

    What do people think about this alternate drain arrangement?
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    A slip joint connector can last as many years as a fernco, but it may be true that under a kitchen sink, they can get bumped.

    I guess there is nothing wrong with that set up. It adds about $20 to the job, which in your own home is no big deal, but to a builder or plumbing contractor would be.

    Add a garbage disposal to the picture and any space saving idea are pretty much lost.
  3. adrianmariano

    adrianmariano New Member

    Messages:
    79
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    After spending around $1000 on the new sink, disposal, and new faucets, it seems absurd to cut corners to save $20. In other words, I'll happily pay $20 more to do it better, particularly if it's going to make the sink work better or less likely to leak down the road. (I can understand that for a plumbing contractor, things look a little different.)

    Is it better to do it with ferncos? I mean, is it worth doing it that way? It does seem like the drain would flow better. The drains are actually pretty far in the back which will keep the disposal out of the way, but it's true that with a disposal you can do as well to save space. (Cauldwell doesn't actually show is special drain setup for disposals, only for a no-disposal double sink.)
  4. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,486
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    sink

    You will spend more money, but from your description his drain setup is a candidate for major drainage problems, and might not pass most inspections. You cannot use the Fernco 90's and would not want to even if you could. That is a "handyman" type of installation.
  5. dubldare

    dubldare Plumber/Gasfitter

    Messages:
    286
    Location:
    MN/ND
    Rex Cauldwell is a dumb-@ss.

    Remember that.




    Now, if you want to know my secret about slip-joints, here it is.


    Hot water, lots of it. Hot water will soften the tubular piping sufficiently to create a very tough joint. Do not use tools, only your hands. No pipe dope either.

    Been doing that for years without the aid of unshielded transition couplings (which are illegal above ground, by the way).
  6. adrianmariano

    adrianmariano New Member

    Messages:
    79
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    Assuming Cauldwell's setup doesn't leak, what sort of major drainage problems might it lead to?

    Is the criticism of Cauldwell based on this one item, or on other knowledge of his methods? (I mean, should I throw away his book?)

    I have to admit that when I saw the design of the T fitting for the drain where there is only a 1/2 inch wide passage for drainage from each side it made me uneasy. My existing drain setup (that came with the house) doesn't have a constriction like this.

    Regarding hot water: do you put everything together and then run hot water and hand tighten more? Or do you soak the parts in hot water before assembly?
  7. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,486
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    book

    If this is a sample of his recommendations, then that is why I would throw the book away. All of that piping will accumulate debris. That debris will start to deteriorate and create an odor. When the odor becomes bad enough you will be coming back here wondering where it is coming from. That is the most obvious reason for not doing it. The other reason is that it will make a very bad drain.
  8. adrianmariano

    adrianmariano New Member

    Messages:
    79
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    I don't understand why this piping will clog more or accumulate debris faster than a standard drain. The standard drain has a 1/2 inch wide passage at the T. Surely that is going to be prone to clogging and will limit the flow rate out of the sinks in any case. My current sink drain is not a conventional one and I have to admit that when I saw the conventional one I was surprised by how tiny the passage was in that T.

    The Cauldwell drain has a horizontal run from each sink. Why is that more prone to debris accumulation than the horizontal run between the sinks in a conventional drain? Then the piping is vertical which is surely not going to be prone to accumulation. And then you have the trap which is going to be similar to a regular drain. Maybe I should post a picture of his drain setup?

    I would like to understand why his drain setup is worse than the standard one because to me (as a naive homeowner with very limited plumbing experience) it looks better, with the possible exception of it being kind of a pain to disconnect everything to clean out the trap.

    Anybody know WHY code prohibits ferncos that aren't buried?
  9. plumber1

    plumber1 Plumber

    Messages:
    1,423
    Location:
    Florida
    When you have as much practical experience as these men at this site that donate their time to help the novice, then you can make a judgement call.

    Who in the world that has worked in the real world would think that someone who writes a book, has it all over plumbers that have seen just about everything, think that a Rex book would be enlightening.

    But books are written to sell.........probably to appeal to a do-it yourself-er.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 12, 2008
  10. adrianmariano

    adrianmariano New Member

    Messages:
    79
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    You've hit the nail on the head. Various judgement calls arise throughtout any home repair/remodeling project. They can't be avoided. Sometimes I think my judgement is up to the job. Sometimes I'm not sure sure. That is exactly why I posted this inquiry. To me Cauldwell makes sense. So am I missing something? If so, what? Why shouldn't I implement the Cauldwell drain? How is it inferior to the standard drain? It doesn't help me to hear "that drain system is bad" without knowing why.

    Cauldwell appears to be a professional plumber ("master plumber", according to his bio) who has been in the business for decades and has seen lots of failed drain systems in real houses out in the world. His credentials appear to be as good as anybody's, and he appears to have plenty of practical experience. It does not appear that he just writes books to appeal to gullible do-it-yourselfers. He presents this as a solution to problems he has observed in his many years of plumbing.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 12, 2008
  11. kordts

    kordts In the Trades

    Messages:
    551
    Location:
    exurban Chicago
    You asked, and everybody said don't use that set-up. Then you ask again. Don't use it, but if you do, don't come crying back here.
  12. adrianmariano

    adrianmariano New Member

    Messages:
    79
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    Actually it's not the case that everybody said don't use it.

    I need to understand what I'm doing. (I guess you can think of it as a personal quirk.) It's not enough for me to have someone say "No, it's bad" without explaining what's wrong with it. If I didn't have this concern with understanding I might have run off and implemented the Cauldwell system without even asking here. One advantage of understanding what I'm doing is that I'm not going to run back and blame other people for the outcome. In the end what I do is my decision and I accept responsibility for the result.

    The reason for asking here is to get some explanations of what, specifically, is good or bad with the Cauldwell drain system.

    So far I have the following claims about the system:

    Cauldwell says it is (1) less likely to leak and (2) it will deliver faster drainage and (3) it keeps the pipes out of the way to make more room under the sink. Of these claims, (3) is obviously true, (2) definitely seems to be true since the Cauldwell system has twice as much pipe area, and about (1) I have no clue.

    Cauldwell and jimbo note that the Cauldwell system is more expensive.

    Jimbo says "I guess there's nothing wrong with it".

    hj says it will (1) accumulate debris and (2) "make a very bad drain". It is not clear why either one of these is the case. My own judgement (admitedly not formed from years of practical plumbing experience) is that this drain cannot be any worse than the conventional drain in terms of debris accumulation and flow because it has less constriction than the conventional drain. So what have I missed?

    It has been noted that ferncos are not to code. Why not? What goes wrong with them?

    I think I'll put up a picture tonight of the system.
  13. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,889
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    Fernco's without the metal outside sleeve can shift over time.
    For that reason Plumbing inspectors don't allow them.
    Plumbers have pulled out plenty that have sagged and cut off the flow.
  14. TedL

    TedL New Member

    Messages:
    604
    Location:
    NY Capital District
    So, if the Ferncos with the two small bands are replaced by Fernco Proflex fittings, are there other objections? I would also like to get away from slip couplings in the "high traffic" area under the sink for all the reasons that slip couplings are not supposed to buried in inaccessible locations...leaks. And since the mere presence of some water under the sink does not necessarily mean a leak (think pull out sprayer hose that gets some water on it and what happens to that water), there can be recurring false alarms that waste time investigating.

    Would an additional 12 or fewer inches of horizontal drain moved upstream of the trap really add significantly to the odor from the drain?
  15. plumber1

    plumber1 Plumber

    Messages:
    1,423
    Location:
    Florida
    Jam nuts and washers shouldn't be a problem.
  16. dubldare

    dubldare Plumber/Gasfitter

    Messages:
    286
    Location:
    MN/ND

    Assemble the tubular piping first, making sure that there is adequate pipe penetration at each slip joint, the more the better! Also, make sure that all piping is cut squarely and free of burrs. To make this work in the real world, work from the strainers down, so the j-bend of the p-trap would be the last connection you make.

    The hot water part, for plastic piping: after all the tubular has been assembled (hand tightened), run hot water for a few minutes. Next, snug each slip nut by hand until firm. Then fill both basins with hot water and drain both basins at the same time, monitor for leaks. Finally, try to snug the slip joints again by hand. If there are any leaks, disassemble and inspect the problem joint for defects. Don't just break out the channellocks and go to town on it. Only the tailpiece to strainer nuts are those that need wrench tigtening.

    I've been using that process for all of 10 years and it has yet to fail me. Additionally, for what is charged for my services, if there was a problem, we'd definately know it.

    The reason for the baffle in tubular tees is really just to mitigate water from one sink coming up in the other during normal usage. This is especially true with disposals, as they turn into pumps when the basin they're connected to has water standing in it and they are operated. Now you may say, "Using the disposal is going to easily clog that baffle tee!", but I say if that should ever happen, you are overloading the disposal. As a plus, it is much easier to clear debris from a tubular baffle tee than it is to break out a drain machine and clear it from farther down.



    Now, let's disect Rex a bit more. I'm not going to go into all the minutia involved, but I will preface with this:
    1)I don't know of many sink installations where the drain is low enough to afford an installation as he describes, as basins are getting deeper and deeper than years before.
    2)While neoprene fittings are somewhat resilient, you're playing with fire if you think that you can make a truly water tight seal on a threaded shank---which is what you have on a strainer. Unless you overtighten the clamps far past the 60 in/# recommended torque, you will have water running up through the threads.
    3)We don't need to be storing the bread machine, stock pots, the food processor and the rubbish bin under our sinks---thats just my opinion, being a plumber who has had to remove such items whenever some work needs to be done.


    How about this, let's take Rex a bit farther. How about we just pipe everything in radiator hose? Less fittings to leak, it can definately take the abuse. I oughta write a book....
  17. adrianmariano

    adrianmariano New Member

    Messages:
    79
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    I said I would post the picture of this drain setup. It can be seen for a few days at

    http://members.cox.net/jsam/plumbingpic.jpg


    As it happens this installation resembles mine: the drain goes down into the floor. I hadn't even thought about the drain coming out of the wall and how that would constrain the pipes. Is it possible for the drain to go into the floor and yet still be properly vented (the connection to the vent would be below the trap).
  18. dubldare

    dubldare Plumber/Gasfitter

    Messages:
    286
    Location:
    MN/ND
    [​IMG]


    Hey, isn't that image from a book in the TimeLife series called "Crackhouses, Shanties and Lean-tos"?

    Seriously, my friend, that's just not right.


    No, that trap is not vented correctly, and it will siphon. One could argue an aav could be installed where the cleanout is shown, but, my gosh.

    Are you sure this Rex character is real, or is he a cousin of those guys that did the DuctTape Book?

    Attached Files:

  19. solsacre

    solsacre Plumber

    Messages:
    70
    Location:
    Arkansas
    What state does Rex's "bio" say he's from?


    wow that's not a legal install

    I don't know what else to say but wow

    different states have different codes.

    Oregon can use furnco's (or our state inspector didn't fight me)

    Arkansas allows me to put more than one trap on a trap arm.... so a 3 bowl K-sink will have 3 p-traps under there no end-outlet's....no room

    but all states require vents

    if he's going to print stuff for people to follow it should at least be legal in some state.

    (1) less likely to leak? I've got no problem with slip joints leaking....

    (2) faster drainage? I think that the "conventional" systems drain great.

    (3) Out of the way? It's nice to have a little room between the drainage and the wall when you hav'to change out the faucet, or tight'n the soap dispenser when it leaks.

    I use Fernco's in drainage on occasion. In commercial dishwashers and commercial disposals... In applications where the fixtures move... because they do flex and they won't break.

    If you want to go ahead with this design I hope you do post pic of the finished result. oh and use no hub bands, not ferncos... they are better.

    good luck

    dances-with-pumps
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 27, 2010
  20. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,486
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    drain

    If he is a "master plumber" then I can understand why a lot of states are abandoning the designation. What is that "E" sticking out of the double Y? There is no vent for the trap. You cannot use the rubber elbows at the drains. You need a Mission, or BandSeal coupling at the floor. When the insides of all that piping accumulates a coating that begins to stink and the air starts circulating from one drain to the other THEN you will know why it is a bad system. If it were a "good" or even "marginally good" system, don't you think plumbers would be installing it so the customers would not have drain problems? Maybe you should request a copy of the errata from the book. Perhaps a revison or retraction of that drain system would be in it. I do not know of any inspector who would approve that drain configuration. And as far as the restriction in the standard tee, how much water do you really think the small openings in the bottom of the sink strainers are going to let pass through. You are trying to create a solution to a problem that you do not even have.
Similar Threads: slip joint
Forum Title Date
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & Leaky Basin Slip Joint Question Jun 28, 2012
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & Do tubular PVC slip joints loosen over time? Jun 27, 2012
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & Are there two types of slip-joints? Sep 9, 2011
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & Slip-joints & teflon tape / pipe dope Sep 9, 2011
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & Slip joint on shower drain keeps leaking! Help! Jul 14, 2011

Share This Page