Plumbing 101, Part 1

A well-functioning plumbing system is something that everyone seems to take for granted. If you are interested in installing your own plumbing system, or creating a better plumbing system, this article will provide some tips to help you. But BE WARNED! Few things are as inconvenient or costly as a plumbing system run amok. Unless you have significant plumbing experience you wise choice would be to call A+ Plumbing and Heating to do the work for you.

When doing a small project, being careful not to do damage to your plumbing system is your first consideration. Great care must be taken when disassembling old pipes. Old pipes are usually fragile. They sometimes crinkle and break and you try to detach them. If this does happen to you, take a positive outlook on it. Better they break now rather than on Christmas, New Year, or Thanksgiving. Here’s something to consider that will help reduce the chances of a pipe breaking while you’re working on it. Try use two wrenches. Use one to hold the fitting, the other holding the pipe. Only turn the one joint you want to work on. Carefully turn the wrenches. If you feel a pipe disintegrating, stop and re-evaluate. Sometimes someone will get the idea to heat a fitting before trying to disengage it. This is very dangerous and should not be attempted by an amateur. If you can not disengage the pipe safely, give us a call and let us do the work for you. It will save you a lot of money, time and inconvenience down the road.

When you are installing plumbing for a major project, including water and drain lines, most plumbers prefer to start with the drain lines. They are bigger, and they can’t go up and down the way water pipes can. Every state in the county has it’s own codes and practices of how to install plumbing. You must learn the code applicable to your state before you can get started. One word of advice is to follow the guidelines of the Uniform Plumbing Code. You can probably find it on

Since gravity dictates the way sewage flows, all the waste pipes and most of the vent pipes slope down. Usually, the minimum requirement is ¼ inch drop per foot of run. The more slope, the better it runs. Check the state regulations for your specific area but generally toilets take 3 or 4-inch waste pipe, and at least 2” of vent pipe. Showers and bathtubs, kitchen sinks and laundry use 2” waste pipe and at least 1 1/2” vent pipe. Bathroom washbasins take 1 1/2” waste, and the vent usually run in 1 1/2”.

Old houses usually have smaller drains for everything except the toilets. That is why they clog up so often. Usually, if you replace the existing piping with the same layout using bigger pipes, it will work and be legal, but not always. Again, when doing this kind of work, close is not good enough. Be sure the changes you’re making are up to code, and will perform well over a long period of time. If you are not certain of this, give us a call. Be careful if you’re working on a very old system. Long ago, waste pipe was mated with lead pipe. The main waste pipe had the toilet stub coming out, and the tub/shower and washbasin drain going into the toilet stub. That is no longer acceptable. Now it has to go into the main drain below where the toilet stub goes. Some do-it-yourselfers do repairs by just reproducing the existing system. It may work, but it would never pass inspection. Besides, lead is very hard to patch or connect to. Instead, use rubber couplings with full stainless steel sleeves, in a size that would work correctly.

Plumbing 101, Part 1This is the end of part one of Plumbing 101. Keep your eye out for part 2. In the meantime, if you have any questions on plumbing or heating give us a call. You can reach us at (203)937-0562.