In order that the plumbing system may be absolutely safe, countless points of apparently small importance must be observed. The difference between a strictly high-class plumbing system and one of medium or poor quality is to be found largely in the observance or non-observance of the small points. In Plate 23 are to be seen some of the small points which are often disregarded. The instances of error to be seen in the illustration are not novel or to be rarely seen, but are constantly being made by mechanics who should or do know better. These errors are often made in ignorance, and it must be admitted that they are also often made, especially on contract work, in order that the work may be made to pay bigger profits.

Plate XXIII. Poor Practices In Plumbing Construction

Various Examples Plate 23. of Poor Practice

Poor Practices In Plumbing Construction 75

Next to the main trap, a fresh-air inlet should have been provided, as the main trap should never be without it. If the nearest waste stack is near enough to the main trap, it would relieve any air lock, but is in no sense a fresh-air inlet, so long as waste enters it.

The two stacks enter the house drain through tee fittings, whereas the connection should always be made with a Y-branch and eighth bend.

Fixture No. 9 should waste into a Y.

Tees should be used on no part of the drainage system, and T-Ys only on vertical lines.

The continuation of the house drain beyond the soil stack forms a dead end. The main vent for the soil stack should reenter the stack below the T-Y on the first floor, and a trap vent from fixture No. 9 run over into it. The ending of this main vent in the vent of No. 9 allows no opportunity for collections of scale and rust to drain out of the main vent.

The 2-in. waste stack should have been increased to 4 in. before passing through the roof. No stack of less size than 4 in. should pass through the roof.

Taking up the fixtures in consecutive order, according to their numbers, the trap vent of No. 1 should be taken from the lead bend, and not from the vent horn of the closet bowl, and the local vent from the same fixture should not drop after leaving the closet, but should pitch upward throughout its course. No. 2 should have separate entrance into the stack through a Y-branch, instead of being connected into the lead bend, the proper course allowing a shorter and more direct connection. The vent from No. 2 should have entered the vent from No. 1 above the top of No. 2. As it is now connected, if a stoppage occurs on the waste of No. 2, waste from this fixture will run off through its vent, thence through the vent of No. 1, and discharge into No. 1.

Fixtures No. 3 and No. 4 should be trapped and vented independently, and be entered separately into the stack, or into the openings of a Y caulked into the Y already in use.

The horizontal vent from Nos. 5 and 6 pitches in the wrong direction. Vent pipes should always pitch upward after leaving the trap. The vent connection of No. 5 should have been made into the horizontal arm of the bend rather than into the vertical arm, as the latter presents greater opportunity for the collection of refuse in the opening of the vent into the bend.

The waste from No. 6 should have a separate entrance into the stack, but if it must be connected into the lead bend it should be connected into the upper part of the horizontal arm, as the opening of the waste into the heel of the bend is in such a position that soil and other refuse matter may drop directly into it in passing through the bend.

The local vent from No. 5 enters the chimney at the second floor, and at a point below the highest opening into the chimney. When all local vents are not entered above the highest chimney opening there is danger that foul odors carried in the vent may enter rooms into which openings in the chimney communicate. Fixtures No. 7 and No. 8 are double trapped. The waste from No. 8 should be disconnected from the trap of No. 7, and entered separately into the stack, or at least connected to the waste from No. 7 close to the point at which it enters the stack. Numerous errors might be mentioned which do not appear on Plate 23. Some of these errors are the following. Earthenware house sewers are sometimes continued inside the foundation wall, and the house drain connected to it by means of a cement joint.

Cleanouts are occasionally used which depend for a tight joint upon the use of a ring of putty.

Drainage is allowed to enter the fresh-air inlet, and the latter is often constructed of too small pipe.

By-passes are a very common form of error, and this particular error often occurs in the connection of the bath overflow to the outlet side of the bath trap, the proper connection being into the inlet to the trap. When thus connected the trap is practically short-circuited, gases and odors passing from the waste pipe through the overflow and out into the room. In the absence of the main trap, a by-pass means that direct communication exists between the house and the sewer. Much poor work is to be found in connection with refrigerator work. Refrigerators are sometimes found connected directly into the drainage system without a trap, and very often found connected directly into the drainage system through a trap, which is not much better than the first-named connection. Local vents may be found connected into main back-vent lines, and trap vents into flues. The blind vent is a deception also often practiced. It consists in running the trap vent back to the wall, or through the wall, and plugging the end, no connection being made into the main vent. This is not so bad in its results as the blind vent with an open end, which is also to be found, and through which direct communication with the sewer exists. The blind vent has every appearance of being honest work, and is no more than open fraud. It will be seen, then, that the opportunities for error are great, and it behooves the owner and inmate of the house to know right from wrong in plumbing construction.

The instances of poor practice in plumbing construction to be noted in Plate 23 are self-evident to the person who has a knowledge of the subject of plumbing. They are errors which the plumbing inspector should not pass over. At the same time there is not an error to be found on this plate which is of an exaggerated nature, and which does not often appear.

Indeed, some of the practices which have been criticised as errors are not looked upon, under some plumbing ordinances, as in any way out of character.

For instance, the practice of connecting the waste from the lavatory, as in fixture No. 2, into the lead bend, is a method allowed in many cities which boast of strict plumbing ordinances.

Poor practices are not alone confined to the methods of making connections, but appear in various other ways.

The use of inferior material is a very common matter, and is to be met in connection with plumbing construction at almost every point.

The use of light cast-iron soil pipe instead of extra-heavy pipe is an instance, as also the use of very light weights of lead pipe, lead traps, bends, etc.

The use of light lead has reached such a point that much of that used on cheap work is entirely unfit for its purpose, inasmuch as it is so thin that it can withstand very little rough usage. In this connection it may be stated that one of the advantages in the rapid displacing of lead pipe, traps, etc., is the fact that stiffer and more durable materials are taking the place of lead.

Many other instances might be named of the use of inferior materials, such as cheaply constructed brass work of poor metal, tanks lined with metal of the thinnest quality, fixtures full of imperfections, etc.

These results have been reached very largely owing to the keen competition of recent years.

It is true that plumbing construction can be made possibly more deceptive than any other branch of building construction. One reason for this is the fact that such a large part of the work is concealed. Frequently, to judge from the neat appearance of fixtures, with their bright nickel work the plumbing system must be an excellent one, whereas in reality it may be of the poorest description, for the concealed work, which is generally the most important from a sanitary standpoint, may be installed in any but a sanitary manner.