Michael Runk Blog

Common Plumbing Mistakes

April 24, 2014

Whether it’s by way of a botched DIY project or an inexperienced plumber, mistakes are occasionally made during plumbing jobs. Not only can a bad plumbing job cause discomfort, it can also lead to trouble when the homeowner wishes to sell the house. If the plumbing mistakes are serious enough, the house inspector will know about it! Here’s a list of some of the most common plumbing mistakes that home inspectors encounter.

Inadequate drain slope. “Drain slope” refers to how much bend the stack pipe has when carrying wastewater away from the house as it encounters the building’s drain. Ideally, the slope should be 1/4 inch per foot. If the drain slope is inadequate, the waste may not move fast enough through the pipes (causing blockage), or the waste may move too fast, which allows liquids to escape but leaves solids behind.

Unvented traps. You may think that the main purpose of the J-shaped tube under your sink is to catch dropped wedding rings, but it does much more than that! A trap makes sure that bad smells don’t creep into the house – it prevents vermin from creeping in through the drains as well! However, a vent is an important element of a trap, since it prevents water in the trap from being siphoned out. If there’s no water in the trap, it’s useless!

Inadequate clean outs. Plumbing in most modern houses is designed very well, however, occasional blockages will occur. When this happens, people need access to ‘clean outs,’ which are specific areas in the home where the plumbing can be accessed. Common locations for clean outs are in water closets, behind toilets, and at the junction between the building drain and building sewer. The requirements for where clean outs must be located vary depending on which codes are being enforced.

Inaccessible cleanouts. Even if a cleanout is located where it is supposed to be, that doesn’t make it accessible, depending on the structure of the home. This is most common in homes where renovations or extensions have occurred. A clean out doesn’t do a plumber any good if he can’t reach it!

Inadequate air gaps. There must be an air gap between waterspouts and the flood lines of basins to prevent wastewater from being siphoned into fresh water. This problem occurs most often when tubs are built on the premises and also when imported fixtures are being used with domestic sinks, since the requirements for air gaps are different between countries.

Are you currently struggling with one of these common plumbing mistakes? Contact us if you are!


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