Is My Plumbing System Installed Correctly?

Written by Anita Alvarez
Updated September 29, 2015
Bathroom sink
Getting the pipes, fixtures and installation done right the first time can save costly plumbing repairs and headaches later. (Photo by Katelin Kinney)

Thinking about the system of water pipes in your home isn't very exciting, but it's important

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When building a new home, your time is filled with dreams of how you'll be using the space once the home is built and planning for an aesthetically pleasing environment. Behind the scenes, however, systems like the plumbing must work seamlessly and efficiently — or you'll pay for it over the next few decades. Both bathroom plumbing and kitchen plumbing, and the various piping systems that connect them, present their own challenges. 

Problems with the home's plumbing system can be particularly insidious, because leaks, unsafe venting and more can cause headache after costly headache. Avoid common installation mistakes by hiring a reputable plumber with experience working with home building projects, and who knows how to get the job done right.

Slope the drainage system correctly

Most local codes allow some flexibility for sloping the drainage system, by as little as 1/16 inch per foot of pipe. However, to ensure that the waste will move through the drain pipe's walls with enough pressure to scour them, while at the same time move at rate that's slow enough to allow solids to keep up with the water, a slope of 1/4 inch per foot of pipe is ideal.

Set the plumbing trap

Every plumbing system should have the appropriate vents and traps to block sewage gases from "backdrafting" into the home. Some plumbers will skip corners, installing an "S-trap" to seal of the fixture; however, the appropriate fixture to use is the "P-trap" with an arm.

Keep the plumbing venting dry

Plumbers use both dry and wet venting systems. However, some fail to employ the right drain-to-vent angle of a dry vent to prevent water and sediment from becoming trapped inside it.

Provide access points to the plumbing system

Strategically located access points are critical, allowing plumbers to access the system at various points. Without planning for sufficient access in the system's design, your plumber will have difficulty accessing the system to diagnose a clog or repair a problem. Local codes dictate where and how often to provide clean-out access in the system.

Separate fresh water and waste water

An effective water system should provide for separate wastewater and freshwater supply — and prevent cross-contamination. The proper air gap at fixtures puts a stop to hazardous back siphoning of wastewater into the supply of fresh water. For example, if you plan to have a hand-spray fixture installed on your kitchen sink, the plumber should also install a vacuum breaker.

Place plumbing fixture installation correctly

Local codes dictate the appropriate distances between a toilet and walls, as well as the toilet and the sink. Failing to take these guidelines into consideration can make it difficult to navigate the space around a sink or toilet with ease.

With so much at stake when it comes to your home's water supply, don't you think it's worth the extra time to properly vet the plumber who will plan for and build the system? This is not a job for a novice or newbie. Trust your family's future only to an experienced, reputable plumbing professional who is well versed in local codes and does detailed, careful work. 

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