Getting Started DIY Plumbing Tip From Vancouver Plumbers

Before being a Vancouver plumber, we all started as DIY plumbers. The first thing you should know once you’ve decided to become a DIY plumber is how water gets to your home. Residential plumbing requires three systems: a supply system, a drain system and a vent system.

1) Supply system: Typical to new homes, a single supply pipe will bring water through a 1 inch diameter (though sometimes larger) pipe. This pipe runs through one or two shut off valves, a water meter, then into your water heater where it branches into hot and cold pipes. Hot and cold pipes travel in pairs towards the plumbing fixtures in your home, such as the kitchen sink or bathtub. Newer homes use copper, plastic (CPVC), or polyethylene (PE or PEX) pipe, as they are not prone to corrosion or deposit build up, unlike the galvanized steel pipes used in older homes. The diameter of pipes used inside your home is narrower than supply pipes- typically ¾ inch to ½ inch in diameter. Each fixture in your home should have stop valves (a.k.a. fixture shutoffs) for both hot and cold pipes, and from the stop valves a supply tube leads right into the fixture.

2) Drain system: Drainpipes can be tricky as they have to be installed according to exact specifications. Always check local building departments before installing or working on drainpipes. Older homes typically have cast-iron or galvanized steel drainpipes, while newer homes have white PVC, black ABS, or copper drainpipes. Drainpipes lead from faucets to the main drain, which connects to the main vent stack. The main stack is typically 3 or 4 inches in diameter and runs up through your roof to vent, and down to the sewer line. Some homes may have secondary stacks 2 or 3 inches in diameter to provide drainage from a specific room; typically the kitchen. Branch pipes 1 ½ to 2 inches in diameter travel horizontally from fixtures to the stack, and must slope at ¼ inch (minimum) per foot at all points. Special p-shaped P-traps allow for a slug of water to form a seal between drainpipes and drain lines, and prevent gas from entering the room. Finally, cleanouts allow for access to auger pipes— good drain systems will have cleanouts in easily accessible places, such as basements.

3) Vent system: Venting systems allow air to enter pipes to aide in the smooth flow of water, and they also allow noxious, harmful gases such as methane to escape through the roof. Plumbing codes are specific about the location, means, and size of vent pipes. Branch vents lead to vent stacks and the part of the main or secondary stack that extends through the roof is called the main or secondary vent. The larger the drainpipe, the less likely it is to become completely filled with water, thus acting as its own vent. Every plumbing fixture must connect to a vent and meet plumbing codes; sometimes an air admittance valve (AAV) can augment or substitute for a vent that runs through the roof.

If these tips don’t pan out and your DIY has gone pear shaped call Vancouver plumbers Plumbing and Drain Rescue at 604.484.1515.

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