Tag Archives: plumbing

FAILING FITTINGS: WHEN PIPING CONNECTIONS GO BAD

It’s no secret that galvanized piping can be problematic. Before more contemporary piping options, such as PEX or copper, galvanized piping was commonly used. If you are living in an older, historic house, chances are good your plumbing system may be operating with galvanized piping. 

Galvanized piping has a relatively short shelf life—approximately 40-50 years—so it certainly doesn’t last forever. Usually, failure occurs from the inside-out with rust and corrosion. I often see homeowners attempt to replace sections of failed galvanized piping with newer, more durable alternatives. I ran into this scenario during a recent inspection at a house in Bellingham. When connecting sections of pipe, fittings are required. However, sometimes, these components can become compromised.

During this inspection, I noted corrosion at copper-galvanized water supply fittings and CPVC-galvanized water supply fittings within the basement. I recommended the issues be further evaluated and repaired by a qualified plumbing contractor.

For more information on how to properly install pipe fittings, I invite you to watch the video below. 

If you have questions or comments about plumbing or home inspections in general, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).

UNCONVENTIONAL VENTING: PLUMBING ISSUES NEED FURTHER EVALUATION

Recently, I inspected a house in Ferndale where I noted handyman drain-waste-vent plumbing practices at the exterior. 

The property owner had installed an exposed ABS drain line, and the laundry room utility sink was unconventionally vented adjacent to an exterior wall. A qualified contractor should always evaluate these types of unorthodox issues, which I cited in the report.

If you have questions or comments about plumbing issues or home inspections in general, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).

VIDEO: DON’T GET ‘TRAPPED’ WITH THIS PLUMBING PROBLEM

Today, I’m going to write about a plumbing issue that is as easy to diagnose as counting “1-2-3,” or—more aptly—“A-B-C.”

I’m talking about “S-traps” and “P-traps.”  If you don’t know what these are, this video gives a nice overview. After watching this, you’ll better understand why you may want to consider making the switch from “S” to “P” in your home’s sinks.

I recently came across this very issue during an inspection on Fidalgo Island, where I found an “S-Trap” installed under the kitchen sink. As a result, I recommended the homeowner install a “P-Trap” in my report.

If you have questions or comments about plumbing issues, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).

GOOD TRY, BUT SOME REPAIRS ARE BEST LEFT TO THE PROS

While I appreciate it when homeowners attempt to take on handyman repairs on their own, sometimes it’s best to leave things to the professionals.

Case in point: during a recent inspection on Shaw Island, I noticed handyman plumbing practices at a copper supply line within the kitchen sink base cabinet. Its execution left a bit to be desired. 

If you have questions or comments about plumbing issues, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).

‘UNCONVENTIONAL’ + HOME INSPECTION = TROUBLE

I use the word “unconventional” in my home inspection reports quite often when it comes to an assortment of issues. While “unconventional” may be a positive attribute in certain circumstances and specific industries (such as successful marketing or sales campaigns), it’s virtually always considered a negative adjective for home inspectors. In my field, uniformity is king!

This week, our “unconventional” examples originated during a recent inspection I conducted in Bellingham. I noticed an unconventional vent pipe protruding through a master bathroom toilet tank, and—admittedly—I had no idea as to its function. Funnily enough, I saw an identical issue in a separate bathroom toilet. 

In my report, I recommended the clients (potential buyers) inquire with the seller or a qualified plumbing contractor as to the function of the protrusion.

Do you have questions or comments about unconventional installations or home inspections in general? Go “All” in and tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).

It’s hammer time!

Does your sink ever sing to you? I recently came across such a sink at a home in Oak Harbor. The song? A little ditty called “water hammer.” 

Water hammer is the result of waterline pressure causing water pipe movement when flow is stopped or started. The “hammer” noise—which is actually a shock wave within the pipes that can lead to pipe collapse–may happen for a host of different reasons, such as insecure pipes.

If you ever notice your sink bursting out into song, consider having it further evaluated by a qualified plumbing contractor to learn more about your options—or perhaps signing it up for “America’s Got Talent.” Thanks for watching!

Questions or comments about water hammer or home inspections in general? Go “All” in and let us know at @AIHomeInspect

Anti-scald valves

Anti-scald valves, also known as tempering valves and mixing valves, mix cold water in with outgoing hot water so that the hot water that leaves a fixture is not hot enough to scald a person.

Facts and Figures

  • Scalds account for 20% of all burns.
  • More than 2,000 American children are scalded each year, mostly in the bathroom and kitchen.
  • Scalding and other types of burns require costly and expensive hospital stays, often involving skin grafts and plastic surgery.
  • Scalding may lead to additional injuries, such as falls and heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
  • Water that is 160º F can cause scalding in 0.5 seconds.

Unwanted temperature fluctuations are an annoyance and a safety hazard. When a toilet is flushed, for instance, cold water flows into the toilet’s tank and lowers the pressure in the cold-water pipes. If someone is taking a shower, they will suddenly feel the water become hotter as less cold water is available to the shower valve. By the same principle, the shower water will become colder when someone in the house uses the hot-water faucet. This condition is exacerbated by plumbing that’s clogged, narrow, or installed in showers equipped with low-flow or multiple showerheads. A sudden burst of hot water can cause serious burns, particularly in young children, who have thinner skin than adults. Also, a startling thermal shock – hot or cold – may cause a person to fall in the shower as he or she scrambles on the slippery surface to adjust the water temperature. The elderly and physically challenged are at particular risk.

Anti-scald valves mitigate this danger by maintaining water temperature at a safe level, even as pressures fluctuate in water supply lines. They look similar to ordinary shower and tub valves and are equipped with a special diaphragm or piston mechanism that immediately balances the pressure of the hot- and cold-water inputs, limiting one or the other to keep the temperature within a range of several degrees. As a side effect, the use of an anti-scald valve increases the amount of available hot water, as it is drawn more slowly from the water heater. Inspectors and homeowners may want to check with the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) to see if these safety measures are required in new construction in their area.

Installation of anti-scald valves is typically simple and inexpensive. Most models are installed in the hot-water line and require a cold-water feed. They also require a swing check valve on the cold-water feed line to prevent hot water from entering the cold-water system. They may be installed at the water heater to safeguard the plumbing for the whole building, or only at specific fixtures.

The actual temperature of the water that comes out of the fixture may be somewhat different than the target temperature set on the anti-scald valve. Such irregularities may be due to long, uninsulated plumbing lines or defects in the valve itself. Users may fine-tune the valve with a rotating mechanism that will allow the water to become hotter or colder, depending on which way it’s turned. Homeowners may contact an InterNACHI inspector or a qualified plumber if they have further questions or concerns.

In summary, anti-scald valves are used to reduce water temperature fluctuations that may otherwise inconvenience or harm unsuspecting building occupants.

by Nick Gromicko, InterNACHI