DIY Frequently Asked Questions

Plumbing Terms

Shutoff Valve

  • Used to shut on or off the water to a water supply tube.
  • Generally used underneath sinks and toilets.
  • Also known as a speedy, angle stop, water supply valve, cutoff valve, lavatory straight valve or stop.
  • Made of metal or plastic in either a straight or 90∫ configuration.
  • Fairly easy to install.

Pipe (Stillson) Wrench

  • Used to grasp pipes and other curved surfaces. Solid housings and hardened steel jaws provide excellent bite and grip.
  • Has two serrated jaws, one adjustable and the other fixed and slightly offset.
  • The Straight pattern is standard.
  • The End-pattern style has jaws slightly offset and is handy for working in restricted spaces or close to walls.
  • The Offset style has jaws at 90∫ to the handle and is also handy for tight spots.
  • The jaws will leave marks on the pipe, so itís best to avoid using them on coated pipe, such as galvanized pipe.
  • Some pipe wrenches have aluminum handles for lighter weight.


Standard Toilet

  • Made of vitreous china and finished with a high-gloss glaze.
  • Designed to be durable and sanitary.
  • White and almond are most common colors.
  • Federal law mandates that all new toilets use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush, compared to old models that used 3.5 gallons or more.
  • Gravity-fed toilets operate with a conventional flush, where water draining from the tank is released into the bowl and its weight and gravity pull waste down the drain.
  • Pressure-assisted units use pressure built up within the water supply to increase the force of the flush. These tend to be noisier than gravity-fed models, but the bowl empties quickly (within 4 seconds). The larger water seal surface results in fewer stains. Since the trapway on pressure-assisted models has fewer bends, it is less likely to clog than a gravity-fed system.
  • A third type of toilet uses a pump to assist the flushing operation with increased pressure. Some models are even designed to flush automatically when the seat lid is closed. Dual flushers feature a lever that uses 1.6 gallons for solid waste removal and 1.1 gallons for liquid waste.
  • The rough-in is the distance from the finished wall to the center of the sewer outlet. Standard rough-ins are 10″, 12″ or 14″.
  • Another style is the one-piece toilet.

Flush Handle

  • Activates the flush valve ball.
  • Usually sold in combination with the trip lever.
  • Attaches with a left-handed screw, which screws on in a counter-clockwise direction.

Flush Valve Seat

  • Located at the bottom of the tank.
  • Surrounds the opening that lets water into the bowl.
  • Kept closed by a rubber flush ball or flapper.
  • The flush valve seat is attached to the Overflow Tube, which drains water back into the bowl if the water level goes above it. This is a good safety precaution if the inlet valve fails.

Flapper Valve Seat Ball

  • Also called a Flush Valve Seat Ball, this device sits on the flush valve seat and attaches to the trip lever with a chain, rod or guide arm.
  • When the outside handle on the toilet tank is pressed down, it raises a trip lever that pulls the flapper off its seat. Water inside the tank pours through the opening to flush the toilet bowl.
  • The valve stays closed with water pressure. However, once the trip lever lifts the device, it remains off the seat by floating on top of the water until the tank is empty. As the water level drops, the flapper gradually settles back into the opening, sealing it so the tank can refill for the next flush.
  • A new style design has replaced the older ball-style. It is connected to the float arm with a chain and eliminates many of the problems associated with wires, rods and guide arms.


  • Also known as a fill valve or inlet valve.
  • Controls refilling the tank.
  • Consists of multiple parts, but is commonly sold as a complete unit. Parts include: upper lever, float rod, lower lever, plunger, valve seat, refill tube, nylon seat, eye screw, body, hush tube, regular shank, shank gasket, lock nut, coupling nut washer, riser pipe and repair shank.
  • Older models use a float ball. When repairing them it is best to replace the entire unit instead of trying to repair its parts.
  • Newer models eliminate the flat ball and may have an anti-siphon feature that keeps toilet water from backing up into the water lines.

Float Ball

  • Part of the Ballcock.
  • When the water level raises it, it shuts off the valve that lets water into the tank.
  • Made of plastic or copper.
  • Should be replaced if it develops cracks or corrodes and let water inside.

Copper Pipe

  • Rigid copper pipe is good for new installation. Soft or flexible copper pipe is good for repair work since it can bend around obstacles without multiple cuts and joints.
  • Type K is heaviest, used in municipal, commercial, residential and underground installation; Type L is medium weight and is the most commonly used in residential water lines; Type M is hard and thin.
  • Recommended for light domestic water lines and not permitted in some city codes or for underground use.
  • Common sizes are 3/8”, 1/2 and 3/4”.
  • Refrigeration tube has moisture removed and ends sealed for better performance of refrigerants. Often used in heater connections but may corrode. For heater connections, use flexible brass or aluminum.
  • Larger sizes also used for DWV (drain-waste-vent) applications.

Tank-to-Bowl Hardware

  • Creates a secure connection between the tank and the bowl.
  • Consists of long brass bolts with rubber washers and a large foam-rubber washer.
  • One size fits all toilets.

PO Plug Wrench

  • Used to remove pop-up or pop-out (PO) plugs from the drain opening in the basin.
  • The four-way shape makes it useful for a variety of strainer types.

PVC Pipe

  • PVC stands for Polyvinyl Chloride.
  • Used for carrying cold water, irrigation, as conduit and for DWV (drain-waste-vent) projects.
  • Rated by thickness and strength. Common ratings (thickest to thinnest) are Schedule 40 (most common), Class 315, Class 200 and Class 125 (generally used for irrigation).
  • Available in sizes from 1/2” to 2”. White in color.


Bowl Gasket

  • Wax RingAlso known as a wax ring.
  • Seals the joint between the toilet bowl and the drain piping in the floor.
  • Some types have a plastic ring inside to add protection.
  • For a better seal, use two rings, one on top of the other.

Water Pump Pliers

  • Also called expanding jawed pliers.
  • Larger sizes can be used as a quick opening pipe wrench.
  • Used to loosen sink strainer jam nuts or grip flush valve jam nuts.


  • CPVC stands for Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride.
  • Used for both hot and cold water supply or chemical distribution systems.
  • Good for temperatures at 200° F in pressure systems and non-pressure systems.
  • Requires special solvent cement that is different from cement used for other types of plastic solvents. Most solvents will indicate this on the can.

ABS Pipe

  • Drain PipeMeans Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene.
  • Made from a thermoplastic resin. Lightweight and easier to use than metal pipe.
  • Commonly used for DWV (drain-waste-vent) applications or for underground electrical conduits.
  • Available as either solid wall or cellular core construction.

Black Poly Pipe

  • Used for carrying low-pressure cold water. Common applications include golf course sprinklers, underground conduits or to carry corrosive liquids and gases.
  • Good chemical and crush resistance.
  • Lightweight enough to cut with an ordinary knife or a fine-toothed hacksaw blade.

Toilet Water Supply

  • Connects water supply to toilet.
  • Flexible types are easiest to install.

PEX Pipe

  • PEX stands for crosslinked polyethylene.
  • Chief advantage is its flexibility and strength. It can make turns around corners without couplings.
  • In a PEX plumbing system, a separate line is run from the main water supply to each fixture in a set up much like a circuit breaker box.
  • Used for carrying hot and cold water.
  • Excellent chemical resistance to acids and alkalis, but do not use for fuel oil, gasoline or kerosene systems.
  • Do not weld with solvents. Join with heat fusion, flare, crimp ring or compression fittings.

Toilet Seats

  • Made of plastic or kiln-dried hardwood.
  • Hardware should be sturdy and non-rusting. Metal hardware should be solid brass with a quality finish.
  • Some toilet seats have “easy-on, easy-off” hinge posts that facilitate installation by the homeowner. These hinge posts also make it practical to remove the seat for thorough cleaning.

Galvanized Pipe

  • Has zinc coating that prevents rust if not scratched.
  • Use primarily for carrying water or waste. Do not use for gas or steam.
  • Common water sizes are 3/8”, 1/2”, 3/4” and 1”. Common waste sizes are 1-1/2”, 2” and 3”.
  • Often sold in pre-threaded standard lengths, or can be custom threaded.
  • Use only with similar galvanized pipe fittings, not with black pipe fittings.
  • Measured using the I.D. (inside diameter).

Black Iron Pipe

  • Not treated for rust resistance.
  • Used for carrying steam or gas.
  • Used only with black iron pipe fittings, not galvanized fittings.
  • Measured using the I.D. (inside diameter).

Nipple Extractor

  • Also known as an internal pipe wrench.
  • Used to remove pieces of pipe that have broken off.
  • Has a rigid cylinder with a moving part that fits into the inside of the pipe and is used with pliers to turn it.

Water Supply Tube

  • Steel Supply TubeUsed to connect a water supply line to a faucet fixture, toilet or appliances. Several types available.
  • Plastic type is flexible and inexpensive but not designed for exposed connections.
  • Ribbed chrome type bends easily without kinking.
  • Braided type features pre-attached connector nuts at both ends and can be flexed to fit.
  • Chrome-plated copper or brass tubes are more rigid than other types and are good for exposed applications.
  • The most common size is 3/8″, with lengths ranging from 6″ to 72″.

Handle Puller

  • Also known as a faucet handle puller.
  • Used to remove corroded or frozen handles without scarring the chrome.
  • Has two hook-like jaws with a center rod that turns.
  • Use penetrating oil to help loosen the handle before pulling.

Vinyl Tubing

  • Vinyl TubingEconomical and used in a variety of applications.
  • Usually joined with pressure fittings and clamps.

Yoke Vise

  • Helps hold pipe when cutting or reaming pipe.
  • Has V-shaped jaws that grip pipe from above and below. The lower jaw is fixed, while the upper jaw is raised or lowered by a screw.
  • Holds pipe with the inverted V-shaped yoke that unlatches on one side and tilts to accommodate the pipe.


  • Installed under sinks and tubs to route wastewater to the drain.
  • Bridges the gap between the sink tailpiece and the drain line.
  • The bend in the trap uses gravity to hold water and prevent sewer gas from seeping into the house.
  • Attach using slip nuts
  • Three configurations include: P trap, S trap and J bend.
  • Most common sizes are 1-1/4” and 1-1/2”.
  • Also available is a trap with flexible tubes that help in connecting misalignments of the tailpiece and the drain line.
  • Available in plastic and chrome-plated brass.

Chain Vise

  • Helps hold pipe when cutting or reaming pipe.
  • Smaller than the yoke vise. Has a fixed lower V-shaped jaw with teeth on where the pipe is laid and a bicycle-type chain fastened to one end. When the pipe is inserted, the chain is placed over it and locked in a slot on the opposite side.

Cartridge-Type Faucet

  • Also known as a washerless faucet.
  • Uses a rubber diaphragm or two metal, plastic or ceramic discs with holes that align to let the water flow or close to shut off the water flow. Ceramic plates are more difficult to damage than rubber seats, but hard water can sometimes cause problems with the ceramic cartridges, such as squeaking or sticking.
  • Single-handle faucets that use stainless steel ball design have just one moving part and are a durable alternative.
  • Reduces leakage problems that result from worn washers.
  • Easy to repair because most new models have the water-control mechanism housed in a replaceable cartridge.
  • Replacing a cartridge is an easy do-it-yourself project, compared to working on conventional faucets. Most faucets that offer this convenience are labeled “self-contained cartridge.”

Tub Drain

  • Bath DrainUses an overflow opening to control draining in a tub.
  • The Spring type consists of an assembly controlled by a lever that moves a pop-up plug up and down. It is easiest to install, especially in retrofits.
  • The Weight type consists of an assembly that controls a weight that lifts up or down out of the drain hole. It is also controlled by a lever.


  • Removes burrs from the inside of the pipe. Burrs are the flakes of metal or plastic on the outside and inside of the pipe after the pipe is cut.
  • Cone-shaped, with ratchet handles.
  • Cutting edges can be sharpened, but this is difficult and time-consuming and the small replacement cost usually makes it impractical.
  • Straight-fluted reamers have straight cutting edges. They can be used by hand or in a pipe rotating on a power drive unit.
  • Spiral-fluted reamers have spiral-shaped cutting edges. They cut more easily, save time and are often used by sheet metal workers to enlarge holes in sheet metal and conduit box outlets, as well as smoothing inside edges of pipe. They are for hand use only.

Pop-Up Drain

  • Also known as a P.O. drain.
  • Controls the mechanism in a lavatory sink with a plug that can open or close the drain.

Ball-Type Faucet

  • Also known as a washerless faucet.
  • A single-handle faucet that uses a ball with openings in it to control hot and cold water.
  • May leak either at the spigot or at the handle.
  • Leaks from the handle are usually caused by improper adjusting-ring tension. To stop the leak, adjust the tension.
  • Worn cam seals can also result in leaks at the handle.
  • Worn spring-loaded, soft rubber seal assemblies usually cause dripping from the spigot.

PVC Cutter

  • Used for cutting ABS, PVC and PE pipe.
  • Makes clean cuts with one-handed operation.

Compression Faucet

  • Also known as a washer-type or stem faucet.
  • When the spindle is turned down, the washer or disk attached to its lower end is pressed tightly against a smoothly finished ring or ground-seat that surrounds the flow opening to shut off the water flow. If the washer and seat do not make a firm contact at all points, water will leak. This usually happens when the washer becomes worn.
  • Seats in faucets that are not removable may be reground with reseating tools.

Tubing Cutter

  • Primarily used to cut copper pipe.
  • Easier to use than an ordinary hacksaw, and it makes a cleaner cut.
  • Has a single cutting wheel and two rollers that make smooth right-angle cuts.
  • Some have a triangular blade-type reamer that folds out of the way when not in use.
  • Sized to cut material with outside diameters ranging from 1/8″ through 4-1/2″.
  • Major points of wear are rollers, wheels and pins on which they are mounted. When cutter wheels are worn out, they should be replaced; sharpening them is not advisable.
  • Separate cutting wheels for plastic pipe are also available.

Disc-Type Faucet

  • A washerless faucet.
  • Water is controlled by openings in the two discs. When the discs are rotated to align, the water flows. When the discs are misaligned, the water shuts off.
  • May have one or two handles.
  • Fix by replacing the O-rings or, better yet, replace the whole disc.

Pipe Threader

  • Uses a die head to create threads on unthreaded pipe ends
  • The hand tool type revolves around a stationary pipe. It is good for threading pipe on the job.
  • With the powered type, the tool stays stationary while the pipe revolves into the die.
  • Always use thread cutting oil for best results.

Tub & Shower Faucet

  • Usually combination style, where hot and cold mix in a single arm.
  • Available in different patterns, they can be built into the wall or flush mounted on the wall above the bathtub.
  • In three-valve bath and shower faucets, two valves control water and a third diverts water either through the spout or to the showerhead.
  • Two-valve tub and shower faucets have an automatic device on the spout that, when activated, diverts water to the showerhead.
  • Two-valve tub fillers and shower fittings fill either the tub or control water in the shower, as do the tub and shower faucets.

Seat Dresser

  • Also known as a faucet seat reamer or valve seat-grinding tool.
  • Used to smooth a faucet seat. Seats may not operate properly if they collect corrosion or calcium deposits or become rough with wear.
  • Inexpensive ones often have 1/2″ and 5/8″ cutters.


  • Also known as a force cup or a plumber’s friend.
  • Used to clear blockages in toilets sinks and tubs.
  • Combination plungers (usually black in color) consist of two cups, one inside the other.
  • Recommend combination plungers for clearing toilets.

Lavatory & Kitchen Faucets

  • Often come in a combination style, where hot and cold mix in a single arm.
  • Are available in several different patterns.
  • A Ledge-Mounted faucet is mounted in a horizontal position.
  • Standard lavatory faucets are made with 4″ centers.
  • Wide Spread faucets (see image in next window) are made with adjustable center measurements up to 12″.
  • The Wall-Mounted unit is connected to pipes coming through the wall above the sink. It is mounted vertically.
  • The most common size in kitchen sink faucets is 8″ center, but 6″ and 4″ are also available.
  • Concealed faucets are mounted underneath the sink, with only handle flanges and spout visible.
  • Exposed faucets are mounted on top of the sink, with or without sprays.
  • A mixing faucet, known generally as single lever, is produced by a number of manufacturers as swing spout kitchen faucets, lavatory faucets and bath faucets. They ordinarily operate by pushing the upright lever straight backward for a 50-50 opening of hot and cold water, back and to the right for cold, and back and to the left for hot water. They have the advantage of being quick-opening and closing, and nearly all have complete repair kits.
  • An Over-The-Counter faucet is easier to install because there is no need to crawl under the sink and reach behind the basin to secure the faucet. It comes with factory-installed flexible supply lines and a spring-loaded toggle, with the screw head concealed by the escutcheon.

Flaring Tool

  • Use to flare the end of a pipe before joining it with a flared fitting.
  • The two flat bars of the tool (the yoke) clamp around the pipe at the appropriate sized hole. Then the cone-shape, powered by the drive screw, forces its way into the pipe and creates a flare.


  • Also known as a snake.
  • Consists of a coiled spiral cable, usually 1/4î thick and of varying lengths.
  • The most basic type has a z-shaped handle used to crank the cable as it snakes through the drain.
  • Another type uses a funnel-shaped container to store the cable and then to spin it as it works its way through the drain.
  • Professionals use an auger attached to a drill or other device that spins the cable. Usually these versions can maneuver a much longer cable.

Laundry Faucet

  • Mounts either on laundry tubs or on the wall above the tub. Most fiberglass tubs require a ledge faucet with 4″ centers.
  • Sometimes furnished with a standard 3-3/4″ hose thread outlet on the spout. Most codes require the use of a vacuum breaker attachment if the outlet contains threads to prevent water contamination.

Closet Auger

  • Also known as a toilet auger.
  • Used for clearing toilets. Better than a regular auger because it is more rigid.
  • Consists of a short cable with a crank.
  • The handle is covered with a rubber sleeve to protect the porcelain in a toilet bowl.

Sill Cock

  • Is a faucet located on the outside wall of the house that easily hooks to garden hoses.
  • The best type is a frost-proof sill cock, made of heavy red brass, that looks and works like any ordinary faucet. However, water flow valves are located inside the building where it is warm.
  • The anti-siphon frost-proof sill cock employs integral back-siphon and back-flow devices. These serve to prevent potential back-siphonage, which, if unchecked, could compromise the safe potable water supply to the home. Hose-attached garden sprays and other pressurized canisters can potentially link a cross-connection if a pressure charge occurs when the frostproof is in the open position.
  • The anti-siphon frostproof sillcock allows for outside spigot usage in freezing climates. The closing member (seat washer) is located inside the heated building.

Sewer Tape

  • An alternative to the auger, but not as effective in difficult blockages.
  • A flat metal band with a hook on one end.


  • Used to clear stopped-up drains by chemical action.
  • Most liquid drain cleaners are heavier than water and will seek out the stoppage, even if the sink, tub or bowl is full of water.
  • Cleaners are typically a combination of potassium hydroxide, which turns grease to soft soap, and thioglycolic acid, that dissolves hair. Others may contain sodium hydroxide, sulfuric acid or lye.
  • Toxic liquids should carry warnings and must be used with caution.

Kitchen Sink

  • Undermounted Sinks (See bottom image) mount below the countertop.
  • Self-Rimming Sinks feature a rolled edge that mounts directly over the countertop. They are the most common and easiest to install.
  • Double sinks are the most common in new construction, with one bowl available for washing and one for rinsing dishes.
  • Single bowls are necessary in small kitchens with little counter space or can function as a second sink for meal preparation.
  • In triple sinks, the middle bowl is designed for the garbage disposal.
  • Shapes are rectangular or square; custom sinks can be round, oval or other shapes.
  • Standard size is 8″ deep; low-end sinks are only 5-7″ deep and top-quality sinks can go 10″ deep.
  • Sinks are constructed of many different materials including enameled steel, stainless steel, cast iron, brass, stone and composites such as quartz or granite combined with resin.
  • Enameled steel has a tendency to chip and is less durable than cast iron or stainless steel.
  • Stainless steel comes in different gauges; the lower the number, the thicker the steel. Thicker steel is less noisy, and undercoating can help dampen noise. Satin finish is the easiest to clean.
  • Other accessories for kitchen sinks include sliding cutting boards, clip-on colanders and custom dish drainers.


  • Is closed on one end and fits over end of pipe run to seal a run of pipe or a fitting.
  • Either has female threads (for galvanized pipe) or no threads (for copper, PVC and other solvent welded pipe).

Propane Torch

  • Used to heat joints in copper pipe so solder can melt.
  • Also use to heat corroded fittings to loosen them.
  • Attaches to a cylinder containing the gas.


  • Is closed on one end and either has male threads (for galvanized pipe) or no threads (for PVC and other solvent welded pipe.
  • Used to seal a run of pipe or fitting.
  • A Cleanout Plug can be added to a tee at the base of a vertical drain pipe. The plug is threaded for easy access to the drain. The threaded fitting for the plug can be added on, or some tee fittings have the threaded connection built-in.



Propane Fuel

  • Attaches to a propane torch.
  • Propane comes in bright blue tanks and MAPP welding gas comes in yellow tanks.
  • Propane is generally used to heat copper for flaring. However, sometimes there is water in the line that needs to be evaporated so the pipe will heat enough to sweat a joint. Use MAPP gas, but use caution as too much heat can melt the pipe.


  • Used to sweat a copper fitting.
  • Forms a bond between fitting and pipe.
  • Use lead-free solder if used on potable water lines.
  • Most common type is 95-5 tin-antimony solder. The first number is the percentage of tin in the solder. The more tin, the more workable the solder.


  • Helps prevent oxidation and allows solder to flow freely.
  • Comes in both liquid and paste.
  • Necessary whenever sweating a joint.


  • Connects two lengths of pipe.
  • Has female thread on both ends (for galvanized pipe) or no threads (for copper, PVC and other solvent-welded pipe).
  • A Reducer Coupling joins two different sizes of pipe.
  • An Adapter Coupling joins two different types of connection types, such as threaded and solvent weld.
  • A Repair Coupling, or mender coupling, has no center stop so two lengths of pipe can be fastened together. Use on unthreaded lengths of pipe.
  • A Fitting Trap Adapter adapts PVC to tubular traps used for sinks.

Flux Brush

  • Used to apply flux to a pipe.
  • About 6″ long.

Copper Fitting Cleaning Brush

  • Use to clean copper fittings before soldering.


  • Changes the direction of the pipe, usually at a 45∫, 90∫ or 22-1/2∫ angle.
  • Most common are elbows with female threads or solvent welds on both ends.
  • A Street Elbow has a female end on one end and a male end on the other. Also available for solvent welded products.
  • A Sweep is a type of elbow that has a longer curve for a more gradual bend. Available in long or short versions.
  • In two-piece toilets, a Closet Bend attaches a toilet tank to the bowl.
  • Reducing Elbows change the size of the pipe.
  • Adapter Elbows change from one type of joint to another, such as from a threaded connection to a solvent weld connection.

Emery Abrasive Cloth

  • Can also be used to clean the copper pipe before sweating a joint.


  • Any length of pipe less than 12″ used to extend a run of pipe.
  • Usually available in increments of 1″, from “close” (the shortest length, where threads almost touch) to 12″
  • Longer lengths of pipe are considered “cut lengths” and are available in 24″ increments.

Plumber’s Putty

  • Used on sink rims, drain plugs and faucets before installation.
  • Ensures a good seal.

Flame Shield

  • Protects surrounding areas from the torch flame when sweating a joint.
  • Most popular type attaches to the torch.

Epoxy Repair

  • Repairs small leaks in pipes.
  • A two-part material that looks like clay.
  • Just before using, break off a piece and mix together by rubbing between your fingers.

Pipe Joint Compound

  • Pipe DopeAlso known as pipe dope.
  • Thick oily paste brushed on pipe threads before joining.
  • Prevents leaks, corrosion and makes it easier to disassemble.

Tub Shower Door

  • An attractive alternative to shower curtains.
  • Usually easy to install and require few tools.
  • Door mounts on a frame that is adjustable to all standard bathtubs.
  • Don’t forget the caulk.

Teflon Tape

  • Does the same job as pipe joint compound, but is easier to use.
  • Thin tape applied to pipe threads before joining.
  • Do not use on gas pipes.

Standard Showerhead

  • Usually has full-range, adjustable sprays and features self-cleaning rims and swivel ball joints.
  • Is typically made of chrome-plated brass or plastic. Plastic models are less expensive but also less durable.
  • All new models must meet the federal standard flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute, although some deliver a more satisfying shower than others.

Pipe Solvent

  • Glue used to weld together two pieces of plastic pipe.
  • There are different types of solvent for PVC and CPVC.
  • Also available are one-step solvents that combine primer and solvent into one.

Massaging Showerhead

  • Uses water pressure forced through a diverting valve to create one or more pulsating water actions.
  • In most cases, users can vary the amount of pulsing pressure or force to their liking.
  • Available in hand-held or permanently mounted models. While all offer massaging action of one or more kinds, they can all be easily converted to conventional shower action.

Pipe Primer

  • Used in conjunction with pipe solvent.
  • Prepares plastic pipe for solvent by softening its surface.
  • Some primers also contain a cleaner that helps remove surface dirt and grease from the pipe.

Continental Shower

  • A versatile wall and hand shower combined.
  • Some brands feature on-off flow control built into the handle, which is a brass push-button diverter valve that permits instant switch from showerhead to hand shower and a 6′ flexible hose and hang-up bracket.
  • It can be easily attached to existing shower arms.

Pipe Cleaner

  • Use in conjunction with pipe solvent and primer.
  • Removes surface dirt and grease from plastic pipe.

Tank Water Heater

  • Can operate on either gas or electricity.
  • Copper-, stone- and glass-lined water heaters perform better than unlined aluminum or galvanized steel heaters.
  • A stainless steel alloy called HWT is designed to resist corrosion as well as the lined models.
  • Unlined galvanized steel tanks perform least well, but they are the least expensive and may prove satisfactory in localities where the water supply does not have adverse effects on equipment.
  • To stop tank corrosion, a magnesium-coated metal rod is available. It is hung inside the tank 3″ or 4″ away from the bottom. Because the magnesium paper eventually will be eaten away, the rod should be inspected from time to time and replaced when necessary.
  • Better-grade, non-metallic gas water heaters are also popular.
  • The tanks, although more expensive than metal models, are light, easy to install and corrosion-proof.
  • Advise homeowners to partially drain their water heater once or twice a year to remove the accumulation of sediment, which can affect operation.

Tankless Water Heater

  • Can operate on either gas or electricity.
  • Tankless water heaters are small heating units that are hooked into plumbing lines and heat water only as needed. They do not store water, but heat it as it moves through the unit.
  • Larger tankless heaters are installed at the point where water enters the house; smaller units are installed at the point where water is used and require more than one in a house. Some operate on house current, others on gas.
  • Some of the larger units require different size plumbing lines and different size flue vents than do tank-type heaters.
  • If gas-fueled, the heater must be properly vented; if electric, it may need to be wired with two units in series which may not be practical for existing home wiring. Larger units require a 220V or 240V line. Smaller units will operate on standard 110V lines.
  • Tankless heaters are more expensive than tank types. However, they do produce savings in annual energy consumption and cost.
  • Although tankless heaters will deliver continuous hot water, they are limited in quantity. The central units cannot support hot water demands from several points at the same time; obviously, the smaller units will heat water delivered only at the points where they are installed.
  • Because of the high initial cost and the fact that American consumers are not used to the limitations these heaters place on the availability of hot water, their recommended use is to supplement existing tank-type heaters or in summer homes or locations where demand for hot water is light.

Water Softener

  •  Help remove minerals (magnesium, calcium, iron) that cause “hard” water.
  • Quality water softeners have either fiberglass linings or steel tanks that have double coatings of epoxy for guaranteed rustproofing.
  • Fiberglass tanks prevent electrolytic action that causes excessive rust and corrosion because there is no metal-to-metal contact.
  • When water enters the home, it is directed into the water softener. Water passes over a mineral bed, with minerals holding the lime and magnesium present in the water.
  • Chemicals in the water softener unit must be regenerated, cleaned or replaced. The regeneration process happens by reversing the flow of water through the softener tank and adding sodium chloride or potassium chloride. The reversed water flow quickly flushes accumulated minerals from the chemical.
  • Quality water softeners have solid brass and copper valves and bearings. Iron or steel parts are seldom used in a quality softener because salt can cause rust.

Water Filter

  • Used to remove bacteria and/or chemicals suspended in water to improve its taste and smell. Filters either install under the sink or at the point where the water supply enters the building (whole-house filters). Others mount on the faucet or countertop.
  • The basic types of water filtration devices are activated-carbon filters, reverse osmosis, distillation and aeration.
  • Activated-carbon filters are the least expensive water filtration devices. They can remove impurities and improve water taste and odor, but do not eliminate dissolved minerals or bacteria. One solution is to combine a carbon filter with a chlorination system.
  • Reverse-osmosis systems take out dissolved lead, mercury,cadmium and other heavy metals that are present in the water, but will not eliminate microorganisms. They are also relatively expensive.
  • Distillation removes most impurities in the water system. Distillers work slowly and must be cleaned regularly.
  • Aeration reduces, but does not necessarily eliminate, the levels of iron, chlorine and other gases in the water. It works best when combined with other treatment forms.
  • Some filters feature cartridges that can be cleaned and reused several times before replacement.
  • Filters based on ceramic technology will remove up to 100 percent of bacteria as well as chemicals, tastes and odors. Some have proven effective in removing such contaminants as algae, chlorine and detergents found in many urban water supplies.
  • Another under-sink model even reduces levels of MTBE, a gasoline additive that contaminates some wells and municipal water systems.
  • Always study information about the specific filters that you are selling.

Pipe Clamp

  • Also known as a repair plate.
  • Used to repair small holes in pipes.
  • Consists of two concave pieces of metal and a rubber gasket. The clamp is tightened over the pipe with the gasket over the leak.
  • Easiest way to repair a leaky pipe.

Sump Pump

  • Used to discharge ground water that accumulates around a basement that is below the water line. The basement should have a drain tile around it to collect ground water and convey it to the sump in the basement.
  • A Submersible type pump is a motor and pump sealed in one unit that rests in the sump pit.
  • A Pedestal pump sits in the water, but the motor is mounted on a column above the water. They are available in automatic or manual models, either gravity-fed or self-priming operation.
  • Pump capacity is rated by gallons-per-hour pumped as well as ìliftî pressure generatedóhow high the liquid is to be pumped.Submersible Sewage and Effluent pumps are for continuous use in moving large volumes of water containing solids.
  • Some pumps have battery backup, and a combination electric and battery-powered sump pump is now available.

All-Purpose Pumps

  • Lightweight pumps used to clear flooded basements, drain low spots after a heavy rain, etc. Used by farmers, boaters and campers as well as homeowners.
  • One type operates off a 12V battery and can be attached to a car, truck, tractor or boat battery.
  • Another type uses a standard 115V house current.
  • Most units pump from 250-500 gallons per hour and are selfpriming and easy to operate.

Soldered Fitting

  • Used to join copper pipe.
  • Unthreaded. Joined by soldering, or sweating, using flux, solder and a torch.

Utility Pumps

  • Larger than all purpose pumps and often gasoline powered.
  • Used to pump manholes, for irrigation and lawn sprinkling, for fire protection and as an emergency water supply during power failure.
  • Capacities range up to 85 gallons per minute. Suction lifts up to 25′.
  • Another type is a highpressure, handheld utility pump that adds as much as 80 lbs. to intake pressure. It operates on 115V current, and when connected to a standard garden hose, can be used to hose down hardsurface driveways and window screens, to wash cars and boats and to clean animal-housing areas. They will also draw water from shallow wells, tanks, etc.

Threaded Fitting

  • Most commonly used in steel fittings, but some plastic and copper fittings will be threaded.
  • Uses pipe dope or Teflon tape on the threads when joining to prevent leaks and corrosion.
  • If the threads are on the interior, the fitting is female. If the threads are on the exterior, the fitting is male.
  • IPS means Iron Pipe Size, and also refers to threaded pipe.
  • MIP means Male Iron Pipe size. It refers to a male threading that will fit an IPS pipe.
  • FIP means Female Iron Pipe size. It refers to a female threading that will fit an IPS pipe.

Homewater Systems

  • Consists of a pump, a pressure tank and switch.
  • The tank will supply water between the cut-on and cut-off pressure setting on the pump, usually 20-40 psi. While 20-40 lbs. pressure is adequate, 30-50 lbs. or 40-60 lbs. is best for home supplies. Since the tank supplies small amounts of water, the pump does not have to turn on each time a faucet is used.
  • Pumps are shallow-well or deep-well. Shallow-well pumps are installed at well depths of 25′ or less. Where deep-well pumps can be used in water depths of 300′ or greater, depending on altitude.
  • Horsepower rating determines pump size. Pumps used in theaverage home are 1/3-, 1/2-, 3/4- or 1-hp. When choosing a pump, find the required capacity by counting the number of faucets in the home (count tub faucets as two) and multiplying by 60. This is the number of gallons-per-hour the pump should supply from the well. Always allow for additional appliances that use water or for appliances you may add in the future.
  • Home water-system pumps are usually centrifugal or jet. This type builds a centrifugal force, which lifts the water.
  • Older homes may have a piston pump. A piston pump builds pressure that pulls water up through the casing.
  • There are several important terms to know when selling a pump:
    Well-sized. The inside diameter of the well indicates proper size pump, ejector, cylinder or drop pipe (pipe that is lowered into well casing to transport the water) and foot valve (located at the bottom of the drop pipe to keep water from flowing backward into the well).
  • Pumping level. The vertical distance in feet from pump to water level while the pump is operating. If pump is installed away from the well and is on higher ground, this elevation must also be included.
  • Most wells draw down (water level goes down inside the well as water is pumped into the home) so this must not be confused with standing water level.
  • Average discharge pressure: The usual average discharge pressure is 30 lbs., halfway between the 20-40 lb. switch setting of most water systems. When the tank is installed away from the pump at a higher level or when house or yard fixtures are above the pump and tank, a greater pressure is needed and a larger pump must be used.
  • Capacity required: This is the discharge capacity of the pump in gallons per hour necessary for satisfactory service. The pump should have enough capacity so that it does not need to work more than the equivalent of two hours a day in intermittent service.
  • Well points: These are used to drive wells in soil that is soft and primarily free of rock and where water is known to be close to the surface. Points are screwed onto the end of pipe to be lowered into the ground; then the point and pipe are driven into the ground with a sledgehammer or mallet. Well points have strainer baskets on the ends that sift out dirt and small stones.

Solvent Weld Fitting

  • Used for unthreaded plastic pipe
  • Has specially-formed sockets into which plastic pipe is inserted.
  • Bonded with cement that is compatible to the type of plastic being connected.

Gate Valve

  • Uses a sliding wedge to move across the waterway, in either a rising or non-rising action.
  • Used to completely shut off or open a waterway. Does not control the volume of flow.
  • In some models, either opening of a gate valve may face the pressure side of the line, while in others, an arrow indicates the direction of water flow.
  • Because they allow the complete passage of water, use on supply lines that are in constant use.
  • A Connector Gate Valve uses a union fitting on one side.

Septic Tank

  • A large watertight settling tank that holds sewage while it decomposes by bacterial action.
  • Made of asphalt coated steel, redwood, concrete, concrete block, clay tile or brick.
  • Tanks must be sized to suit the house. Twobedroom homes need minimum 750gallon tanks, according to the U.S. Public Health Service. Threebedroom homes need 900gallon tanks and fourbedroom homes require 1,000gallon tanks. Garbage disposers, washing machines and dishwashers are figured in this estimate.
  • Household sewage flows into the septic tank anddecomposes. Sludge collects on the bottom of the tank and liquid effluent flows out to a distribution system. The distribution system is a series of underground disposal lines that radiate outward from a central distribution point; the effluent seeps into the earth.
  • Sludge remaining in the tank must be cleaned out periodically to prevent this layer from building up enough to cause clogging of disposal lines or household sewer lines.
  • Under ordinary use, the tank may need cleaning at two to four-year intervals, but most experts recommend that the sludge level be inspected every 12 to 18 months. Inspect by opening a special manhole cover or trapdoor located at or near ground level.
  • Septic tank cleaners dissolve sludge through enzyme activators that regenerate the natural bacterial activity of decomposition for which the tanks were designed. These natural bacterial activators continue from the tank into the drain and tile field.

Compression Fitting

  • Achieves a watertight seal by tightening a nut, which compresses a ring onto the pipe.
  • Avoids threading, gluing or soldering a pipe connection.
  • Used with water supply tubes or other unthreaded ends of pipe.
  • Can also be used to connect two different types of pipe, such as plastic and copper.
  • Can be removed and reinstalled or retightened.

Boiler Drain Valve

  • A horizontal faucet with male hose threads on the outlet side and either male or female IPS threads on the inlet side.
  • Originally designed to drain water from a boiler, hence the name.
  • Today, theyíre usually used for laundry machine hookups.
  • Newer models of laundry valves have a single lever that controls the hot and cold water supply.

Flared Fitting

  • Operates the same as a compression fitting, but one end of the pipe is flared.
  • Used in refrigeration, small appliances and oil heating.

Ball Valve

  • Uses a large lever to turn a ball that closes or opens the flow of water with one quick quarter turn.
  • Are the standard for natural and LP gas, replacing the older plug valves that were traditionally used as gas valves.
  • Available in either metal or plastic, threaded or non-threaded types.
  • Ball valves with double-stem seals provide greater durability.

Globe Valve

  • Used when a valve must be opened and closed frequently under high water pressure.
  • Used to control volume of flow. These valves have two chambers with a partition between them for passage of water that must change course several times from port to port.
  • Should not be used in water supply lines for occasional shut-off purposes.
  • An angle valve is similar to a globe valve, but has its ports at right angles. Install at a turn in piping to eliminate the necessity of an elbow (this is often preferred to using a globe valve and elbow).
  • An angle valve has greater water passage than a globe valve. Since there is only one change in direction of flow, there is less resistance.
  • A Connector Globe Valve uses a union fitting on one side.

Insert Fitting

  • Sometimes used with flexible plastic pipe.
  • Inserted onto the pipe and compressed and sealed with an adjustable clamp.

Pressure Relief Valve

  • Used to protect water heaters or hot water storage tanks.
  • When the water pressure reaches a dangerous level, the valve opens and discharges water. Cold water then flows into the tank and stabilizes the water pressure.

Adapter Fitting

  • Any kind of fitting that helps connect two different types of tubing, such as copper and galvanized steel, or threaded and solvent weld, or two different sizes that are usually incompatible.
  • A dielectric fitting connects pipe of dissimilar metals (such as copper and galvanized metal) to prevent corrosion in the copper pipe.
  • Two main types, reducers and bushings, are used to convert from one size to another.

Stop & Waste Valve

  • Has a small opening on the non-pressure side to allow drainage when it is in cut-off position. Helps prevent freezing of water lines in winter.
  • Also known as a bleeder valve or drainable valve.
  • Comes in threaded, sweat, flare and slip joint ends. The latter two are municipal and emergency valves.
  • Flat head or socket head are common residential types have a socket head that takes a 3/8″ key rod.

Flexible Fitting

  • Short lengths of flexible and soft plastic that is very flexible and forgiving.
  • Generally used for drain fittings in repair applications or to tie into existing drainage systems.
  • Fits over an existing pipe and tightens with a clamp.

Check Valve

  • Operates automatically, permitting flow in one direction only.
  • Sometimes combined with a throttling or shut-off valve. Some communities require a check valve in cold water lines between the water heater and meter.
  • Used to prevent water pumped to an overhead tank from flowing back when the pump stops.
  • Some check valves are designed for use with vertical pipes only. Therefore, it will not work if installed upside down. The closing deviceóa disk, ball or clapperófalls shut by gravity when installed vertically.
  • Another variety is the Swing-Type check valve, which is a small, smooth swing-type gate located in the center of the valve. As water is pumped through the flow side of the valve, a gate swings open to allow water to pass. If water attempts to back up through the valve, the gate is forced shut against the pressure side of the valve.