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Building plumbing system installation, inspection, troubleshooting & repair:
Guide to articles describing plumbing systems, piping, components: installation, inspection, troubleshooting & repair, organized by topic.
These plumbing repair articles answer nearly all questions about diagnosing and repairing building plumbing systems, including water supply and drain piping, vent piping, gas and oil piping in buildings, plumbing fixtures, water heaters, water pumps, water pressure, water softeners, water testing, water treatment equipment, water wells, and septic systems.
We also explain oil tanks, water tanks as well as other building plumbing system inspection or defect topics.
Also try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.
We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.
Plumbing System Diagnosis and Repair Guides
This InspectAPedia page provides links to both article indexes by major plumbing topic and links to in-depth articles on inspecting, testing, and repairing problems with
above ground and buried oil tanks, septic system design, inspection, testing, water supply and drain waste vent piping, wells, water supply pumps, water tanks,
water testing and water treatment.
New York State License # 16000005303 (inception to 2008)
Below on this page we describe the contents of key plumbing system articles and indexes organized by major plumbing system topics.
To find what you need quickly, if you don't want to scroll through this index you are welcome to use the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX to search InspectApedia for specific articles and information.
Home page for water heaters:WATER HEATERS - hot water tanks, sources of hot water in buildings, equipment installation, troubleshooting, repair. We address just about any question you may have about residential or light commercial hot water supply systems, including identifying types of water heaters, inspecting water heaters, diagnosing hot water supply problems, installing and repairing water heaters, water heater maintenance.
Watch out: while for the US the 2015 IPC is the most-recent version of the International Plumbing Code, while the 2018 IPC is under development.
To understand which generation of the model building code or plumbing code applies to your specific project you will need to check with your local building official. For example many jurisdictions are on the 2012 IPC or still older versions.
International Code Council, 500 New Jersey Avenue, NW, 6th Floor, Washington, DC 20001
Tel: 1-888-ICC-SAFE (422-7233); Fax: (202) 783-2348
International: (202) 370-1800, Email: email@example.com, Website: http://www.iccsafe.org
Excerpt describing the IPC - International Plumbing Code
The International Plumbing Code (IPC) is a proven, comprehensive model plumbing code that works seamlessly with ICC's family of building codes. It sets minimum regulations for plumbing systems and components to protect life, health and safety of building occupants and the public.
The IPC is available for adoption by jurisdictions ranging from states to towns, and is currently adopted on the state or local level in 35 states in the U.S.
The IPC is built on the proven legacy of the BOCA National Plumbing Code, SBCCI Standard Plumbing Code, and ICBO Plumbing Code.
The IPC sets minimum regulations for plumbing systems using both prescriptive and performance-related provisions ...
Purchase the 2015 International Plumbing Code at this ICC page: http://shop.iccsafe.org/codes/2015-international-codes-and-references/2015-international-plumbing-coder.html
2012 IPC INTERNATIONAL PLUMBING CODE - COMPLETE [PDF] retrieved 2016/08/11, original source: https://law.resource.org/pub/us/code/ibr/icc.ipc.2012.pdf, as adopted by the U.S. State of Code Maryland Administrative Regulations section 05.02.01.02
This public document is the entire 2012 Plumbing Code
2009 IPC ICC INTERNATIONAL PLUMBING CODE [PDF] full text, retrieved 2016/08/11, original source: https://law.resource.org/pub/us/code/ibr/icc.ipc.2009.pdf as adopted and incorporated by various U.S. states including Alabama, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and others.
2006 IPC ICC INTERNATIONAL PLUMBING CODE[PDF] full text, retrieved 2016/08/11, original source: https://law.resource.org/pub/us/code/ibr/icc.ipc.2006.pdf as adopted by various U.S. states and municipalities including Arizona, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Georgia, New York, South Carolina, and others.
Overview: An overview is presented indicating how the performance approach to plumbing
system design can be used to extend traditional methods to innovative systems.
Identification of the plumbing performance needed in a built system is used
to classify current design criteria intended to furnish this level of performance.
Some current design criteria may provide a higher level of performance
than is actually needed by the user.
In other cases, no standard test method,
criterion, or evalution technique exists. Putting existing knowledge into
a performance format increases the utility of this knowledge and facilitates
identification of needed research to fill the gaps.
Some of the mathematical
models now used for system design and pipe sizing in plumbing codes are
reviewed in the context of performance-oriented research.
The results of
experimental work in plumbing systems with reduced-size vents (smaller than
allowed by codes) are presented as an example of the use of the performance
approach, and illustrate a case where performance criteria permit relaxing
of vent design practice.
Conceivably the re-examination by plumbing designers
of traditional design criteria against measured user needs could be beneficially
extended to other areas of plumbing design such as water distribution, storm
drainage, and plumbing fixtures.
Beyond this, it has been recognized that
uniform guidelines for evaluation of innovative systems , based on research
findings, are essential for wide acceptance of performance methods, particularly
by the regulatory community.
Septic Systems & Septic Tanks: Onsite Waste Disposal - Septic Systems Inspection & Testing, Problem Diagnosis & Repair Procedures
SEPTIC SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR - Home page for septic systems information: Extensive, Detailed Consumer and Industry Information on Septic System Inspection, Testing, Maintenance, Alternatives for on-site waste disposal
Water Supply Piping, & Drain Piping, other Building Pipes and Plumbing piping failures, leaks, and litigation
Water Supply Piping, & Drain Piping, Water Supply Equipment, other Building Pipes and Plumbing
The following basic water supply information is adapted with permission from Carson Dunlop AssociatesHome Reference Book.
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume. Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
Or choose the The Home Reference eBook for PCs, Macs, Kindle, iPad, iPhone, or Android Smart Phones. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference eBook purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAEHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
Typically, the water mains in
residential areas are four inches
to 12 inches in diameter, and run
several feet below the street
Smaller pipes, usually 1/2
inch or 3/4 inch diameter, run
from city mains into buildings.
The water is normally supplied
at a pressure of 40 to 70 psi
(pounds per square inch).
Typical Water Service Piping from Public Water Main to Building Interior
The 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch diameter
service piping carries the water
from the street mains to the
house. Some early service pipes were 3/8 inch diameter. Most or all of this cannot be seen.
Lead Water Service Piping
Lead piping was used between the street main and the house up until the 1950s.
A good deal
of lead supply line is still in use, and the health authorities indicate that as long as it is used
regularly, there is no difficulty with it. If the water has not been run for some time, many
recommend that the water be flowed for several minutes before using it. The life expectancy
of lead piping is indefinite. See
Other water piping materials: Copper, Galvanized Steel, Plastic
Copper piping has been used extensively since the early 1950s for supply lines from the city main to the house. From 1950 to 1970, 1/2-inch diameter piping was used commonly. After 1970, 3/4-inch diameter copper service piping has been common.
The life expectancy of
copper piping is dependent on water conditions. In many areas, its life expectancy is indefinite. In harsh water or soil conditions, it may fail within 20 years.
Galvanized steel is not commonly used as a service pipe, although galvanized steel fittings may be found at the point of entry into the house. Where galvanized service piping is used, it is typically at least 1 1/4-inch diameter. The word galvanized means zinc-coated. The coating helps prevent the steel from rusting.
Since the supply line from the street cannot be seen, no comment is offered during a home inspection. If there is a leak, it may go undetected for some time. In some cases, water can be heard running outside the basement wall. Water accumulating in the basement or a wet spot on the lawn is often the first indication.
Leaks may be caused by building settlement, excavation, poor connections, faulty valves or a flaw in the pipe itself.
The underground water service line from the property line to the house is owned by the
homeowner. Beyond the property line, the pipe is the responsibility of the city. A leak in
the pipe requires excavation, and it is often difficult to know whether the leak is on the city’s or the homeowner’s side.
The city is usually contacted and they excavate their section of the pipe, correcting the problem if they discover it. If no problem is found, the homeowner is left to correct the problem on his or her own. In some cases, the homeowner must pay for the city’s work if the city pipe is not at fault. Some municipalities use sophisticated leak detection equipment.
Low Water Pressure Due to Clogged Service Piping
Poor water pressure in the house may be the result of a partially closed or obstructed valve in the street. It may also be because of blockage, such as a stone or other foreign body in
New piping may be crimped during installation or become pinched under a rock during back-filling operations. This can also cause low water pressure.
City water mains may be undersized or deteriorated in older neighborhoods. Some cities have
poor pumping and/or distribution systems. In these cases, low water pressure problems are
usually experienced at every home in the neighborhood. The solution is to petition the city to
improve its system.
Water Service Piping Too-Small in Diameter
In most new housing, the supply
pipe from the street to the
house is 3/4-inch diameter. In
older houses, the piping was as
small as 3/8-inch
. Modern life
styles and additional plumbing
fixtures usually require a larger
line, capable of providing more
pressure and volume. Replacing
this pipe is an expensive and
disruptive job. It is often deferred
as long as possible.
Shared Public Supply Service Piping May Cause Poor Pressure or Flow
In some older semi-detached
(attached) and row houses, a
single supply line would run under a front lawn, and then split to feed two houses. This often
yields unsatisfactory water pressure for both houses and is often replaced with two larger,
Pressure Regulator Needed on Public Water Supply Piping
Where municipal water pressure is above 80 psi, [perhaps even above 70 psi] a regulator
Needed should be provided to reduce
the in-house pressure to prevent
leaks at fixtures, stress on appliance
hoses and possible broken
Freeze-Up Problems with Municipal Water Supply Piping
It is unusual, although not impossible, for the service pipe to be too close to the surface, and to freeze during very cold weather. Many service pipes extend above grade just before they enter the house.
Lead Municipal Water Mains or Water Service Piping
Up until World War II, most of the service pipes in built-up areas were lead.
While these generally provide good service, they are small in diameter and may have to be replaced. Also, lead is relatively soft, and if building settlement occurs, there is a chance of leakage or crimping the pipe. Leaks can also occur at connections as a result of long-term deterioration.
Lead Water Service Piping Connected to Steel Pipe Nipple: Leak Risk
Many of the old lead service lines were connected to a galvanized nipple – a short piece of steel
pipe that was often in contact with the soil.
This pipe rusts on the outside and inside, and may be close to the end of its life. It is often wise to replace this as a precautionary measure. Galvanized steel service pipes typically last roughly 40 years.
Thanks to Scott C. LeMarr, for sharing his file of keys to decode Furnace and Water Heater Age from the data provided on the manufacturer's equipment labels. Mr. LeMarr is
a professional home inspector, Certified Professional Inspector/President,
MASTER Indoor Environmental Specialist (MIES).
Vice President of Wisconsin NACHI. He and his company, Honest Home Inspections, LLC. can be reached at
262-424-5587 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
"Water Saving Tips: For Residential Water Use, Indoors and Out", Alliance for Water Efficiency, 300 W Adams Street, Suite 601 Chicago, Illinois 60606, Tel: 773-360-5100, 866-730-A4WE, Email: email@example.com, web search 12/14/11, original source: plumbingefficiencyresearchcoalition.org/
"Danger in the Shower: 2008 Forum Looks at Hot Water", John Koeller, Home Energy, Jan/Feb 2009,
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. Tel: (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The firm provides professional home inspection services & home inspection education & publications. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides extensive home inspection education and report writing material.
The Illustrated Home illustrates construction details and building components, a reference for owners & inspectors. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Illustrated Home purchased as a single order Enter INSPECTAILL in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
TECHNICAL REFERENCE GUIDE to manufacturer's model and serial number information for heating and cooling equipment, useful for determining the age of heating boilers, furnaces, water heaters is provided by Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto - Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Technical Reference Guide purchased as a single order. Just enter INSPECTATRG in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume.
Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on these courses: Enter INSPECTAHITP in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
The Horizon Software System manages business operations,scheduling, & inspection report writing using Carson Dunlop's knowledge base & color images. The Horizon system runs on always-available cloud-based software for office computers, laptops, tablets, iPad, Android, & other smartphones