Installing Water Filter Tips

5.1 Location

The following steps need to be taken for determining the location for your water filter installation:

1.   Determine where you will locate your water filter or water softener.

The ideal place for your installation is an out of the way location on a hard, level surface.  A distance of at least 8 feet of pipe between the outlet of the filter to the inlet of the water heater is required.
Note 1: If the distance of pipe between the filter outlet and your hot water heater inlet is less than 8 feet, you need to place a check valve in line to prevent backflow of water. A backflow preventer with an intermediate atmospheric vent conforming to the American Society of Sanitary Engineering (ASSE) Standard 1012 or a reduced pressure principle backflow preventer conforming to ASSE 1013 shall be installed in the water supply to the plumbing product. In Wisconsin, plumbing plan approval must be obtained before the installation of reduced pressure principle backflow preventers.
Note 2: If a check valve is required, an expansion tank must be installed between the check valve and water heater.
    Notes 1 & 2 mean make sure you have at least 8 feet of pipe between your water filter and hot water heater, not to be 8 feet apart. This will save you a few dollars of special valves or expansion tanks. The only real draw back is that you will need to purchase an extra 8 to 10 feet of pipe and a few extra 90 degree elbows.

    If you have determined that more than one filter is needed or you are also installing a water softener, make floor space for it also. Poor planning will create additional work for you later.
Never install water filtration equipment where the temperatures are below 32 degrees F (0 degrees C) or more than 122 degrees F (50 degrees C).
Do not install this equipment near acids or acid fumes.
  Do not put this equipment where children, pets, or small animals can tamper with the filter, or filter lines. When installing the iron & sulfur filter, prevent access to the Potassium Permanganate container. Potassium Permanganate is a deadly poison.

2.   Determine where you will get electrical power to operate your water filter controller.
WARNING: Electrical Power Can Kill or Maim.

  An electrical outlet with 120 volts A.C. fused with a 15 Amp fuse or breaker is recommended to plug the servo motor that controls your water filtration equipment.  If power is not available, you will have a small side project of adding an outlet near your installation. These systems use very little electric current. Pulling electric power from an outlet within the vicinity of your installation is typically not a problem.
All local and state codes on electrical wiring apply. Typically in most states, a homeowner can do the wiring himself provided he does it according to local code.  A building permit to do any wiring may also be required in some major cites and municipalities.
Electrical power can kill. Before attempting to do any wiring, find out how to do it before attempting to wing it. There are several basic electrical wiring books available on how to do this. An additional source of information would be National Fire Prevention Association #70, also known as the National Electric Code (NEC).
  If you are doing the wiring yourself, ensure you shut off the power to the outlet you are tapping into before hooking an additional outlet up. It is also a good idea check the voltage on your outlet. If you do not have a volt meter, you can use a circuit tester. These are inexpensive and in actuality are a neon bulb with leads. Another alternative is to plug a small electric lamp into the outlet and try the outlet before plugging power to your water filtration unit to see if you errored in wiring.

3.   Ensure you have a drain available. If not, you will probably need to put one in.

  A drain for the water used during the regeneration process and chemical tank or brine tank overflow is needed. Because Potassium Permanganate, the chemical used to regenerate a iron & sulfur filter is a poison, filter regeneration water cannot be discharged to the open ground, open tanks, or any where other than a sanitary drainage system(I.E. a city sewer or to a septic tank).
Place the Potassium Permanganate holding tank where a drain is available. You will need to put an overflow hose from the potassium Permanganate solution tank to a drain in case of an overflow.
The drain must be capable of carrying the the maximum flow rate of your specific water softener. The drain can be either a regular floor drain, utility drain (I.E. Washing machine tub), or a stand pipe. An air gap to break siphon action is also required.  Most water softener & water filter provide drain line sizing information along with the equipment.

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5.2 Installation

1. Acquire the needed tools and materials to do the installation. Refer to the tool list and material list.
2. Precut your pipes and try fitting them together before soldering.
Tip 1: When installing your filter, water softener, valves, etc., make sure everything is plumbed correctly. Most filters, water softeners, and valves are marked with arrows cast right in the parts to show the direction of water through the system starting from the raw water source and pointing to the rest of the plumbing in the house.
Tip 2: Try fitting all your piping together as you go so it goes together without binding. Make sure all the pipes except for the last two pipes you need to hook up to your intended break in the water line. File off any burrs that develop from cutting the pipe.
3. Clean your copper pipe fittings well. Your fittings should be clean, shiny, and free of dirt and oxidation.
Tip 3: Use of a fine grade emery cloth or sand paper works well, however, don’t use a medium or course grade of sandpaper (greater than 100 grit). It may rough up the material to a point where it won’t slide together well during assembly.
4. Make sure the water is turned off. This is the most obvious step to your installation, the most important, and sometimes the hardest to do if your main water valve is old and leaks.
5. Once you have your pipes precut, you are ready to flux the joints and solder them. The process of soldering and wiping excess solder from copper pipes is also know as sweating the joints.


Use proper care and follow manufacturers instructions on use and safety when using.
Propane torches generate heat from an open flame. Use extreme care to keep all flammable materials away from the open flame and hot parts.
Keep a portable fire extinguisher available in your work area in the event of fire. Ensure your fire extinguisher is rated for all materials capable of starting fire in your installation area.
Use a thermal barrier (either fiberglass mat or wood stove underlayment) where needed.


Flux is typically in a wax state. Apply flux so a thin coat is on the outside of the pipe and inside the joint to be soldered.
Tip 4: Flux only needs to be applied to the areas where you want solder.
Tip 5: Because it takes a lot of heat to get valves soldered, be sure to take any seals or valve handles out of the valves before soldering. The valve won’t be any good to you if the seals are all warped and leak.
Tip 6: Do not solder directly on your control valve/filtration tank. Heat will damage the unit. Instead, remove the inlet and outlet brass nuts found of the filtration unit and solder on a section of pipe for an extension.  A minimum of 5 inches is typically recommended.
6. Apply heat to the joints, one at a time. Once you see the flux activated, apply solder. When flux is activated, it will cause the color of the copper to change from a shiny copper to a salmon pink color. At this point the copper is free from contaminations as will allow the solder to “wet”. Wetting refers to the way solder coats the copper as if it were dipped into a liquid and got wet.
Tip 7: Solder flows toward heat. When soldering, apply heat to the thickest part of a fitting. When soldering elbows, heating the outside corner works well.
Tip 8: If you do not have any experience at soldering, it would be worth your effort to purchase a few additional fittings and additional pipe and practice soldering. In most cases you will be able to solder the joint. However, a little practice before you attempt to do your project may mean the difference between getting it right the first time or doing it over. I strongly recommend soldering as many fittings to pipe sections in an open area. Use a thermal barrier (either a  fiberglass mat or wood stove underlayment) when soldering near flammable materials. (I.E. Studs in walls & floor joists)
Tip 9: Start your project so if you do run out parts or have a problem, there is still time to get to a hardware store to get the needed parts.
7. After the solder has wicked around the entire joint, excess solder is wiped from around the joint with a damp rag. Allow the joint time to cool down before attempting to solder the next joint. This will keep the total amount of heat down on a specific joint so you don’t get it to hot. If to hot, when the joint you are soldering finally flows, the last joint you soldered could slides down or fall off.
8. The first items soldered are typically the pipe fittings that come with the water filtering system. Take the fittings off (and take any rubber, nylon, or plastic off the fittings), assemble the initial pipe sections to them, flux, and solder. Keep soldering the parts together until you are ready to cut into the water line.
9. In most cases, the most difficult part of an iron filter or water oftener installation is tapping into the water line. Perform the following:

a.) Ensure water is turned off.(If you have a well, turn of your pump.

b.) Open the faucets to relieve pressure in the water lines. This will also allow the water to drain to the lowest point in the plumbing.

Plumbing Tips-Unclogging Drains

It’s a fact, all plumbing systems get clogs eventually. Most of the time you can fix the problem yourself if you have the right tools, know the technique, and are willing to roll up your sleeves and do it! The best news is that the tools aren’t all that expensive, and sometimes can be rented. Remember that if after a few attempts you can’t get the clog loose, do turn the job over to a professional plumber. Exerting too much force on the plumbing can damage the system.

The Right Stuff

The first thing to reach for when the water stops draining is a plunger. This can work on sinks, tubs, and toilets. For clogs that are located deeper into the plumbing you can use a “snake”, a long flexible steel cable that is wound on a spool with a hand crank. You can get these in various lengths but a 25 foot model should do for most household tasks. There is also a “closet auger” which is like a snake but is built specialy for toilets. The closet auger has no spool but a rigid shaft bent at the correct angles to go through a toilet trap.

Help For a Backed Up Sink

Most sink clogs can be cleared with a plunger. Fill the sink with some water and go to work. If it is a double sink you need to keep the stopper in the opposite side so the pressure doesn’t just come out there, but gets directed to the clog. If it’s a bath sink, stuff a wet rag into the overflow hole for the same reason. If a plunger doesn’t work then it’s time to bring in the plumbers snake. Go under the sink and take the trap off with a pipe wrench. You will want to have a pail or bucket under the trap when you do this as water is going to come out. It won’t hurt to have a few old towels around either! Two large nuts should be holding a “U” shaped pipe at the bottom. If your pipes are plastic (really PVC) you may be able to take these nuts off by hand. Check the “U” shaped trap to make sure the clog isn’t right in there, it might be! If not, take the horizontal arm coming from the wall and remove it. You may have to loose another nut to do this. Now take your drain snake and push it into the opening until you feel resistance. Pull out another foot and a half of cable. Tighten the locking screw down and start to push it into the opening while tuning the crank handle to the right (clockwise). You may have to repeat this a foot and a half at a time until you feel your snake break through. When you do, put the trap back together and run hot water down the drain. If it backs up it means that parts of the original clog may have become lodged again further down the drain, but this can usually be pushed out with a plunger. Go back to running some water into the sink, plunging the overflow if needed, and plunging to clear the loose secondary clog.

The Unruly Bathtub

Bathtubs usually start running slower and slower before backing up. If yours has a screen over the drain remove the screw holding it on and take it off. Use a bent piece of coat hanger or other wire to fish out any hair and other debris that may be slowing or stopping the drain. If you have a pop up drain, move the lever to raise it and try pulling it right out. If that doesn’t help run a bit of water in the tub and start with the plunger. You need to stuff a wet cloth into the opening at the bottom of the overflow plate or the plunger’s force will just come out there. If the plunger didn’t work it’s time to try the snake, but this time we are going to feed it in through the overflow plate. Two screws usually hold this in place, and when you pull it out, the mechanism to open and close the drain will come out with it. Feed about 3 feet of cable down through the opening, turning the crank to the right as you go. This will feel tight because you are working the cable through the s shaped trap under the floor. Once you have worked through that, pull the cable back out, turning to the left if needed, and try running water down the drain. As with the sink, a broken clog’s pieces can loosley re-clog further down the drain, so you may need to plug the overflow and go back to the plunger to finish. Reassemble the overflow and drain screen and you are through.

Toilet Woes

Toilets usually clog in the fixtures built in trap, so a closet auger only has about 3 feet of cable. Sometimes a plunger will work, if not, place the auger in the toilet with the upturned tip going into the drain and push down as you crank to the right. After you feel the cable snake through the trap and you have pushed all the cable through, crank to the left and pull it back out. Try flushing the toilet. If it is still slow you may need to repeat. You can turn the tool to work the cable more to the right or more to the left to try to work out all of a big clog.

How a “Free” Toilet Can End Up Costing You More Money


You may have gotten flyers advertising toilets that were so cheap that, with the $100 DWP rebate, the toilet was FREE! Or even better, you might turn a slight profit on the installation. This is an absolutely fantastic deal which you should definitely take advantage of, provided you have no intention of actually using the toilet.

It may surprise you to know that toilets are not all created equal. Since Congress mandated that toilets use only six liters of water per flush, manufacturers have been scrambling to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of their toilets. And, tremendous progress has been made.

What distinguishes a good toilet from a bad one? Well, here I’ll talk only about how easy a toilet is to live with; matters of taste I leave to you. If you ever wondered, toilets do have to meet national standards to be sold in the United States. These standards are set by the American National Standards Institute, and involve flushing small rods, little beads, balls, and ink and dye down toilets to test their performance. Well, how did you think they were going to test them?

So, here we go on a Baedeker’s tour of one of the cornerstones of modern plumbing.

1) Flushing action
Essentially, this boils down to, ‘Does it make it all go away?’ Ultra-Low-Flush toilets acquired a bad reputation in their early years, for requiring two, three, or even four flushes to clear the bowl. This doesn’t have to be the case anymore, if you take care in selecting a quality toilet with a first-rate installation job, such as provided by (guess who?)

Older toilets, especially the luxury lowboy toilets, had a lazy, swirling and very quiet flush that sometimes used up to seven gallons of water per flush (7 gpf). Now we must make 1.6 gallons do the work that used to be done by at least 3 1/2 gallons (3.5 gpf). What we’ve lost forever is that leisurely swirling action. Now the water comes out roiling, boiling and swirling. This was done by enlarging the internal waterways and ports in the china, and re-engineering the bowl. That is why you can’t just put a 1.6 gpf tank on an old bowl and make it work — it’s like trying to put a Honda engine in the ‘72 Eldorado.

One of the internal waterways that has been enlarged was the trapway, which on a toilet is that serpentine section at the back of the bowl. The size is measured by how big a ball will pass through this; this measurement is called “ball-pass.” Older Ultra-Low-Flush toilets passed balls only 1 5/8″, while with newer toilets it’s not unusual to pass a ball over 2″ in diameter. This means fewer stoppages.

2) Clean bowl
Sometimes, after use, there are some streaks of residue left behind. Two things (besides a brush) help to prevent this. One is the flushing action; a vigorous flush, with lots of turbulence, helps to scour the bowl clean. The other is the size of the water surface in the bowl, the larger it is being better. You see, it helps to keep the bowl cleaner if any falling waste falls on water, not china. As toilet technology has advanced, the size of the ‘water patch’ has grown from 4″ x 5″ to 8″ x 9″, or over three times larger.

3) Drainline carry
Once the waste is out of the bowl, the job’s not done. It must be carried down the drainline so it won’t cause a blockage downstream. Again, here we have to make 1.6 gallons do the work that used to be done by 3 1/2 to 7 gallons. One of the keys here is a proper installation; if the wrong fittings are used, the waste velocity can be so diminished that the toilet seems to have mysterious balkiness, where the toilet doesn’t seem to be really stopped, but neither is it flushing quite right, either.

To achieve happy customers, American ingenuity has been hard at work. Some have tried pressurized tanks inside the china toilet tanks, some have tried small pumps, some have tried vacuums, some have tried baffles and buckets inside the banks, and baffles on the outlets, and, and, and…. As the tired Chinese curse goes, “May you live in interesting times,” and for plumbers and toilet manufacturers these past few years have been most interesting.

Another problem which comes up sometimes is not really the toilet’s fault, but the installer’s. A toilet is made of china; the drainline, of plastic or cast iron. The joint between the two is usually made of wax (although we offer a virtually blowout-proof neoprene seal also). If this joint between china and iron or plastic is not installed properly, every flush will allow a small amount of foul water to seep out, and onto the wood floor. Eventually, the wood becomes saturated and rots. By this time, your cut-rate installer is probably long-gone.

And, while there are certainly ways to save a few dollars on a toilet, you have to ask yourself if this is the wisest place to do it.

How You Can Save Money With A Separate Water Meter


Have you checked your DWP bill lately? Did you notice how high the “sewer use fees” were, maybe even higher than your water bill? Did you wonder what you could do to reduce the size of the check you write to DWP?

I think we can offer you a solution. We’ve been taking part in a program to install secondary water meters for residences, so that the water used for landscaping is metered separately from the water used inside the home, which goes down the sewer. It turns out that in many cases only one-fourth of the water used is for toilets, bathing, and washing dishes and clothes.

You won’t get charged “sewer use fees” for your landscaping water, and you’ll see a real difference in your bill. In fact, your savings in one year may very well pay for the extra meter installation. After that, your savings will just go into your pocket, year after year.


The Department of Water & Power uses a simple percentage to figure your sewer use charges. Three fifths, or 60%, of all the water you use is calculated to be used for washing and flushing toilets. The rest is for watering your yard.

However, in many cases only one-fourth of the water is used for household reasons. In many homes today, with two-income couples eating out, having their clothes sent out, and rarely being home, their main household usage is for their daily bathing and grooming, with their automatic sprinklers using most of the water.

Here’s an example: DWP charges over $125 in sewer use fees for 100 cubic feet, at the 60% calculation. If only 25% went to household use, the savings would be over $400 in the first year, often paying for the meter in the first year!

And the savings will go on and on and on, increasing as sewer use charges go up! In five years, you may save thousands of dollars! Of course, these figures are only estimates at this point; your savings may be less — or more!

We’d like to give you a no-cost, no-obligation quote to install one of these meters for your home. This includes a Los Angeles City permit, official Municipal Services meter, and inspection by a City plumbing inspector.

I hope to hear from you soon. The sooner you call, the sooner your savings can start — and, with a long, warm and dry winter forecast, your savings will be even greater.

Time to Repipe?

Time to Repipe? Guest Blog.

You’ve no doubt gotten the flyers asking if you’re tired of rusty water, scalding or freezing in the shower, and low water pressure, and offering to cure these problems for the lowest price in town.

Maybe you’re wondering how we stack up here. Well, we’ve done thousands of repipes over the last few decades, and know what we’re doing. In fact, we are one of the few companies authorized by the City of Los Angeles to inspect and certify our own piping and water heater replacements. But we are not, never have been and never will be, the cheapest repipe in town.

Long ago it was explained to me that we had three choices when making a purchase; our purchase could be based on quality, service and price. It was further explained that one could really hope to get the best in any two of those three aspects. This means that if one gets great quality and price, then the service will suffer; with repipes this might mean that the job drags on for weeks or months (and I’ve heard of such repipes). Or, if you get great service at a great price then quality has to suffer.

A plumber can disregard this rule and do well, at least for a while. Most contractors fail after 4-5 years; this is the point at which their mistakes in plumbing and running a business catch up with them. And this is why, when somebody offers you a warranty of 10, 20 years or longer, you ought to consider how if the business will be around to honor the warranty.

At Peet & Son Plumbing we take pride in providing great service and great quality; we feel that this gives our customers great value also. Lots of people agree with us (see our Customer Satisfaction award on this site). This does mean that we’re not the plumber for everybody.

No matter which contractor you hire, you should get some guidance on how to work with your contractor, and what you should be able to expect. I recommend checking out the Contractors State License Board site at, where you can find out about what to look for, and even check out your contractor.

But back to repiping. For years we’ve used the heavier grade of copper, known as Type L copper. Likewise with lead-free solder, low-corrosion flux, reaming the tube ends and strapping the system for quietness. We take special care to see to it that your repipe gives you many years of quiet, dependable service. Sometimes it makes sense to replace only part of the water system; then we use special fittings to minimize the corrosion which occurs when you connect copper to steel.

But what does the future hold for repiping? Well, as copper replaced steel, now cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) is becoming popular. PEX is cheaper and faster than copper, and takes less skill to install. Peet Plumbing will be doing our first PEX job in early 2001.

We’ve also been investigating a new process in which the water pipes are not replaced, but instead scoured internally and then lined with epoxy. This process has a very long warranty (about 50 years, I believe), and is currently practical only for very large buildings. In fact, we saw a downtown hotel being done, with minimal mess, fuss, and inconvenience, while the hotel was open. In fact, I bet most of the guests didn’t even know what was going on. The developers of the process have told me to expect that they’ll have the process scaled down for domestic use by Summer of 2001.

Is Plumbing Genetic?

Guest Blog

See, what you have to understand here is that I am very consciously the son, grandson, great-grandson, nephew, and brother of plumbers. While bankers’ families talked about banking at the family dinner table, and while lawyers talked about ambulances and torts over their tarts, we talked about the mysteries of dealing with plumbing inspectors from City Hall and about the sorts of things that cause toilets to stop up (there is more mystery there than one might expect), about the benefits of no-hub couplings and the respective properties of galvanized steel pipe versus copper tubing. “Peet” and “Plumbing”-in our minds, the words were irrevocably linked, like Rodgers and Hammerstein or Tinker, Evers, and Chance.

And no doubt it was Chance that caused the initial problem with the plumbing at the building where I work, but I felt that it was not Chance, but Fate, that provided for my presence there that day, because what with my genetic background, I would surely need to do no more than walk in and give that leaking toilet That Magic Peet Touch, let the curative power flow through my hands, before everything would once again be A-OK.

But I’ve left you behind, haven’t I? To set the scene, it was a Monday, July 9th. As is my custom on a workday, I was working, in this case at my job as a secretary/word-processor at one of the buildings at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. This particular building contains about twenty-five scientists, virtually all of them involved in DNA research. All day long, I had heard the remote sound of water running through pipes, but had attributed it to some experiment being performed or the operation of the equipment-washing machines.

It was now about 3:15 in the afternoon, and one of the scientists came by my desk to ask if there was a shower being operated in the men’s room. She said she had heard it running all day, and was concerned that water was being wasted during this drought year. I had been in that restroom many times–daily, in fact– and knew of no shower. I walked in and heard the water running in one of the stalls, on the door of which was a sign reading, “Do Not Use. Plumber Was Called At 11:30.” I opened the door and saw a stream of water pouring into and down the bowl of the toilet. Since it was now 3:20, that meant that this water had been wasted for at least four hours, and possibly all weekend. Well, I thought, surely I can at least turn off the water to the toilet? I, of all people here?

I crouched a bit, looking along the wall near the base of the toilet for a valve, but no luck. That didn’t stop me, however. Surely, in this laboratory which was so involved with genetics, I could show them some real genetics, show them that plumbing was in my blood — well, in a matter of speaking.

I looked at the valve on top of the toilet and memorized the name: “Sloan Royal Flush,” or something like that. I returned to my desk to call my own personal Time-Life Book of Plumbing, my brother Lindsay, who runs the family plumbing shop in Los Angeles. I described the toilet, gave him the name of the valve on top, and explained the symptoms. He nodded knowingly, or at least, over the phone it sounded like he was nodding knowingly, and said, “Ah. A very common problem with that type of valve. It means that the orifice in the diaphragm is clogged.” There was a brief pause while we both thought of lewd jokes involving orifices and diaphragms-delivered in Groucho’s voice, of course-then I said, “OK. What do I do?”

He said that there should be a pipe coming straight out from the wall. About two inches from the wall, this pipe would abruptly turn horizontally to connect to the valve itself, above the toilet. At the point where it turned horizontally, there should be a cap facing me. What I needed to do, he said, is simple. I needed to get a crescent wrench or channel-lock pliers and unscrew this cap. When I did so, I would see a brass screw, and what I then needed to do was to tighten this screw all the way, as this was what regulated the flow of water to the valve. Simple, I thought, especially to one of my background and intelligence. I could probably do it while simultaneously whistling “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” or Charlie Parker’s solo from “Cloudburst,” except that I can’t whistle.

Hanging up the phone, I went to find Herb, one of the scientists, whom I knew had a set of tools. When I found him, I requested a metric crescent wrench- an old joke among us technical types– and we kidded around for a bit about the English Whitworth system, a system apparently invented by the Druids which related the size of the threaded screw to the diameter of trees and the summer solstice, and which probably makes a lot of sense to the English, a nation which plays rugby for fun. Herb provided me with a set of channel-locks and a screwdriver, and off I went, The Plumber At Work.

It’s not as if I had been particularly shy about talking about all the plumbers in my ancestry, either. Just about everyone at the lab had heard me talk about my humble origins, though probably ‘humble’ is not the first word that any of them would have used about me. So I blithely thought I would just quietly go about my business, get the water-flow stopped in this toilet, and then in genuine modesty accept the thanks that I was confident would be heaped upon me. As my three-month probationary period was just coming to an end, I thought that my expertise and versatility would also serve to stoke the fires when raise-time came around.

So I walked into the toilet stall, and it was just me and that leaking toilet, mano a mano, my manos being filled with crescent wrench, channel-locks, and screwdriver. As Lindsay had instructed me, I began to unscrew the cap, using the channel-locks (the crescent wrench proved to be too small). After perhaps 1-1/4 turns, water started dribbling out from the cap. Lindsay had not told me to expect this. As I unscrewed further, more water dribbled out. I thought for a moment, then tightened it back up and went back to consult my Time-Life source.

Lindsay shook his head, perplexed, or at least, that’s what it sounded like. “Huh,” he said. “I’ve never heard of that happening,” he wondered. Now it was my turn to nod my head, dumbly (or “unknowingly,” as the Spanish Mystics would say it). “I don’t think it will be a problem,” he hypothesized. “Go ahead and remove the cap, then tighten that screw, and that should do it. Probably, the packing on the valve is weeping a little, and it collected in the cap,” he guessed. Well, my faith in what my family tells me is complete, dating from my early childhood, when my father told me that Elvis Presley wore out his pants from the inside, which I thought amazing-did the Guinness people know about this? And that the pianist, George Shearing, could play “Night and Day.” Doesn’t the poor man get tired, not being able to take a break, I wondered?

So when Lindsay gave me the go-ahead, I went forth again, not unknowingly, but knowingly this time. Obviously, the Spanish Mystics had never had Lindsay to give them the solution to a perplexing plumbing problem.

Bursting with confidence, I re-entered the stall, like the priest in “The Exorcist” entering the little girl’s bedroom, pausing only to grab a small bowl to bring with me. As I saw it, I would unscrew the cap and water would begin to drip out, which I would catch by placing the bowl beneath the pipe. When I got the cap off, I would tighten the screw, and all of the water would cease to flow, even the small amount from the cap itself. I would then empty the bowl into a lavatory (we plumbers don’t call them ‘sinks’) and then return the tools, while the work went out over the lab grapevine about the astoundingly simple solution I had devised.

I began to loosen the cap, and as expected, the water began to dribble out, right into the bowl placed strategically beneath. I loosened some more, and more water began to drip out. I paused for a moment, uncertain whether to continue, then remembered that Lindsay had told me it would be OK; and, like Brutus, Lindsay is an honorable man.

I loosened it some more, when WHAM!! Water was bursting out of somewhere at an astonishing rate of speed, hitting me in the right front pocket of my jeans, spraying up into my surprised and unknowing face, flooding the floor, and I quickly began to identify more with Noah than with the Spanish Mystics. Merely provide some animals, paired two-by-two, and the scene would have been complete.

Just as did Noah, I looked towards the heavens, but in my case it was so that I could catch a breath, an act which the water spraying into my face had rendered virtually impossible. I looked back down, and saw the water swirling on the floor around a small and now completely overburdened floor drain. The entire scene was tremendously exciting, as water ripped out of this pipe, taking my breath away, drenching my clothes, and causing me to wonder if this would be my last day on the job. The pipe was only 30″ or so from the floor, but the water pressure was such that, had the stall door not been there, the water would probably have gone ten feet horizontally before hitting the floor. As it was, the door was taking a pummeling, and I stood there, almost frozen with shock. I stepped outside the stall to try and think, but then I thought that, while I was pondering alternatives and sifting through possibilities, there was a hell of a lot of water pouring onto this floor, and very little of it was going into the floor drain. I had to go back in there! !!MANO A MANO!!

I plunged back in, gasping for breath at the ceiling then looking down through the cascades of water on the lenses of my glasses, trying to see what I was doing. The cap! Where was that cap?! I had to screw it back on! Frantically, I looked on the floor, sure that it was being washed around the room by the torrent. Where was that cap?!! A bit abashed, I found it still clenched in the jaws of the channel-locks, which were in turn still clenched in my right hand.

Thus began Phase II of my plan, wherein I attempted to put the cap back onto the pipe while all the water in California was trying to prevent my doing so. I first tried using the channel-locks, figuring – I don’t know what I was figuring, who the hell is doing any figuring at a time like this?! So I tried that, getting my pants and shoes just a little bit wetter, but accomplishing nothing beyond that. Then I tried using only my hand. After all, has there ever been any device as versatile, as skillful, as a human hand? My conclusion was that versatility and skill are one thing, and sheer brute force another, for the water prevailed again.

This concluded Phase II, and I proceeded immediately to Phase III, in which I admitted defeat. Remembering then my choir training about using one’s voice to greatest effect, I took a large breath, and, from the diaphragm (and hoping my own orifices wouldn’t clog), I bellowed out sharply, powerfully, distinctly, and con brio, the single syllable “HELP!!”

In just a few moments, a scientist named Paul burst into the stall from his office in the library across the hallway. I can only imagine what he expected to find, answering a bellow from help in the men’s room, but he took the situation in with admirable coolness and yelled, “Kevin! Get out of there!” no doubt fearing that I might start repairing a faucet next. I slogged out, and he backed out after me.

I had a sudden brainstorm! The screw! Lindsay had mentioned the screw!! All that I had to do was go back in there, find the head of the screw with the blade of the screwdriver, and tighten it down, thus shutting off all the water to the toilet! In retrospect, this was about as optimistic as buying a lottery ticket, but I confess to being a bit addled by this time. So, it was once more into the breach, dear friends, if not for dear old England then at least for Peet pride.

Dutifully, like the Dutch boy in the story, I went back in there, determined to stop the flow of water, now about two inches deep throughout the bathroom. I re-entered the stall, screwdriver in hand, water again drenching my leg, spraying my face, sheeting down my glasses, and generally testing my mettle.

If one were to ponder the subject, one might believe that even water at high pressure might not meet much resistance against a screwdriver blade. Let me now disabuse you of such a notion, as I can state with the voice of experience that a blade being forced in to a forceful stream of water will lurch spastically from one side of the stream to another, all the while causing great random gouts of spray and mist to be directed directly into your nose and eyes. Yet I pushed on, reasoning (is such a word can be applied at all to my brain’s workings at that time) that it was in the nature of screw heads and screw drivers that they should come together, and that by pushing and rotating the blade clockwise, I would eventually encounter the screw head, tighten it down, and turn the water off.

A soul more clever than I would realize that, for that reasoning to hold true, the screwhead would have to be present for the screwdriver to do its work. Remove the screw, and the driver’s rotating blade does nothing more productive than re-directing the torrent of water, and that only minimally. As I later found out, during the forensic aspect of my adventure, the screw was still in the cap which had blown out in the first place; in the meantime, however, I was screwing clockwise for all I was worth, which at the time seemed to be about the same as a pfennig from the late Weimar Republic. This whole debacle was feeling very reminiscent of snipe-hunting, another activity my father had introduced me to.

Phase IV now commenced, known in military circles as Complete Capitulation. I gathered up my tools, and my bowl, and left the restroom, only to find the water had preceded me. Waves had advanced down the hallway on the right and were moving ahead about and inch per second, or five feet per minute as I absently calculated. The water had breached the doorsill into the library across the hall, and on the front to my left it had performed a sort of enfilade around the corner, and was now advancing down the steps (or steppes?), like some sort of liquid Slinky.

Taking all this in, I became aware that, as much as I wished to be, I was not alone at that moment. Four people stood in the hallway to my right, watching me intently. Five people stood in the hallway to my left, their eyes also fixed on me. There was a moment of silence while their eyes drank in this vision – and “drank” is certainly the best verb to use here. I, for my part, did not know what to say. Finally, as the water continued to stream through the restroom door and spread down the hallways in every direction, I lifted up the bowl in my left hand and murmured, “I think I need a bigger bucket.”

Herb, to my left, broke the silence of the bystanders. “Where is the water coming from?” I looked at him and said, “The Sierra, I think. My guess would be about fourteen thousand feet up.” Someone else said, “What are you going to do?” The metronomic dripping from my clothing and splashing on the spreading pool was strangely insistent. “I’m going home.” From down the hallway on the right, my boss (Oh, no! Is he here?) said, “I think that would be the better part of valor.”

Someone went to the building manager to ask him to shut off the water to the building, and I sloshed down the hall to collect my belongings. I walked slowly, poignantly, back bowed and head down, pausing to remove my shoes and socks which squilched with every step. A voice said the water was now off, and I stopped, knowing that I had left something undone. Slowly I turned back, re-entering the bathroom and the stall, now de-fanged. Removing the cap from the jaws of the channel-locks, by hand I threaded it gently back into the pipe from which it had come. It screwed in without difficulty.

Let the geneticists make of this incident what they will.

Dealing With Plumbing Floods

If you have ever gone camping for a weekend, you know it doesn’t take long to miss running water, flushing toilets, clean clothes, and hot showers. These modern conveniences are the benefits of plumbing systems.

Your house has several separate plumbing systems. Water-supply pipes bring pressurized water from the water utility or a well to your house, where it is piped to sinks, toilets, washers, bathtubs, and related fixtures. Larger pipes drain waste and vent sewer gases. And many homes have piped-in natural gas for gas-burning appliances such as dryers and furnaces.

In an emergency, you should know how to turn water off quickly before it ruins floors and walls. The main shutoff valve is located either outside where the main water supply enters, or just inside—particularly in cold climates. Turn the valve clockwise to shut it off. Call your utility company if the problem involves a valve between the street and the house.

Gas Connections


  • Gas meter- access opening min. 22in. x 24in. [1209.5] [2604.1]
  • Gas test­10psi (6in. mercury) for 15 minutes [1204.3.2] [2603.3.1]
  • Main shutoff valve ahead of meter, outside & readily accessible [1209.3] [n/a]

Individual appliance shutoff valves:

  • Outside appliance, ahead of union & <3ft. (6ft.**) from appliance [1211.15] [2606.3]
  • May be inside wall furnace access panel [1211.15] [2606.3.2]

Gas-appliance connector:

  • Sizing pt-13 [1217] [n/a]
  • Max. length 3ft. (6ft. for range or dryer) [1212ex.1] [2607.6]
  • Must not pass through building or appliance wall [1212ex.2] [2607.6]
  • Valve immediately ahead of & sized to connector [1212ex.3] [2607.6]
  • Aluminum alloy dry interiors only [1212ex.5] [n/a]
  • Gas hose <15ft. outdoor portable appliance only [1212ex.7] [2607.6]


Capacities of Metal Gas Appliance Connectors in thousands of Btu/hr. table pt-13

 Semi-rigid O.D. Flex I.D. 1ft. 1-1/2ft. 2ft. 2-1/2ft. 3ft. Ranges & dryers only
4ft. 5ft. 6ft.
 3/8″ 1/4″                

Liquid Gas

  • Appliance not located where gas may collect [1213.5] [2611.4]
  • Bldg. openings below relief valves min. 5ft. (10ft.**) horiz. [1213.5] [2611.4]

Heat Exchanger(Hydronics) Using Potable Water

  • Backflow prevention (reduced pressure) req’d. [602.3] [3402.2.1]
  • Water separated by two (one**) separate walls [603.3.4] 3402.3.2]
  • Vented leak detection path [603.3.4] [n/a]


  • Ballcock critical level min. 1in. above overflow pipe opening [603.3.2] [3214.4]
  • Toilet plumbing fixtures sealed at walls and floors [408.2] [3206.1-3]
  • 1.6gal. flush water closets (new construction only) [energy] [3214.2]
  • Access to tub waste and overflow if slip joints used. [405.2] [3205.1]
  • Tub hose attachments req. vacuum breaker [603.3.7] [n/a]


  • Dishwasher air gap req’d. above sink flood rim [807.4] [3219.1]
  • Sink-hose attachments req. vacuum breaker [603.3.7] [3402.2.2]


  • ABS vents protected with latex paint [IS 5-92, 313.3] [n/a]

Vacuum breakers:

  • Install on all hose bibs [603.3.7] [3402.2.2]
  • Accessible stop-&-waste-type in building in cold climates [n/a] [3408.4]
  • Req’d. >6in. above highest sprinkler fig. p15 [t 6-1] [n/a]
  • No valves downstream [t 6-1] [n/a]


  • Potable water air gap of 2 pipe diameters or min. 1in. [603.2.4] [3402.1]
  • Water-supply valves for each fixture or appliance [605.5] [n/a]
  • Traps seal min. 2in., max. 4in. [1005] [3701.2]
  • Backwater valve accessible if req’d. only one slip joint fitting after traps, and no leaks [710.1] [n/a]
  • Rainwater drains not connected to building drain [714.2] [n/a]
  • AC & refrigeration drains must have airbreak [801.1] [n/a]
  • ÝÝABS above roof(exposed to sunlight) painted with latex paint [IS5 313.4] [ASTM D 2661]


  • Code information is followed by two brackets [301.4.1] [912.3].

The first contains the code numbers or basis for the information preceding the brackets. The first bracket will contain a reference number to the UPC.

The second bracket is the corresponding code number or reference as cited in the CABO One and Two Family Dwelling Code.

  • [trade] Unwritten trade practice
  • [energy] Energy conservation measures modeled on California Title 24 or the Model Energy Code
  • [local] An area of code enforcement often open to local interpretation
  • [**] Difference in CABO from UPC
  • [manu.] Follow manufacturer’s installation instructions
  • ÝÝ Material that does not appear in current edition of Code Check book.
  • [utility] Possible requirement of local utility company
  • IS Installation Standards established by IAPMO


Repairing Different Types of Faucets


  • Shut off water supply valves then drain lines by turning faucet on.
  • Use an allen wrench to loosen the set screw holding the handle in place and remove handle.
  • Loosen and remove the adjusting ring by using the special wrench provided in the repair kit.
  • To remove cap, use pliers and turn counterclockwise. Protect cap finish with cloth.
  • Remove spout assembly.
  • Remove cam assembly by pulling up on ball shaft. You may need to use pliers.
  • Removing seats and springs is best done by inserting a pencil or sharp tool into the seat assembly and gently lifting it out. Check and clean inlet ports before replacing seats and springs.
  • To replace “O” rings on body, use a sharp tool to pry away from body. Roll new correct size “O” ring into place.
  • When reassembling, be sure to align slot in ball with pin in body and key on cam with slot in body.
  • Hand-tighten the cap, then screw adjusting ring into place with special wrench and replace handle. Turn on water and check for leaks. If necessary, further tighten adjusting ring.


  • Shut off water supply valves then drain lines by turning faucet on.
  • Pry off decorative cover and remove screw cap.
  • Pull spout assembly off.
  • Pull retainer clip from its slot.
  • Using pliers, lift cartridge out of body. Note position of cartridge ears so that when replacing, they are in identical position.
  • Remove “O” rings by prying away from body and rolling new ones into place, or replace entire cartridge.
  • Reverse procedure for reassembly.


  • Shut off water supply valves and drain lines by turning faucet on.
  • Lift handle up as far as possible and loosen set screw.
  • Lift handle off and unscrew cap.
  • Loosen screws holding ceramic disc cartridge in body and lift cartridge out.
  • On underside of cartridge are the set of seals that should be replaced. Check and clean inlet ports.
  • Reassemble by reversing above procedure, being sure cartridge holes align with inlet ports.


  • Shut off water supply valves then drain lines by turning both faucet handles on.
  • Pry off decorative cap on handle and remove screw holding handle.
  • Gently pry off handle with a screwdriver or use a faucet handle puller.
  • Use pliers or wrench to remove stem locknut/bonnet.
  • Depending on style of faucet, either unscrew stem or lift up to remove stem cartridge from faucet body.
  • To replace stem washer, remove brass screw (fig.3) and replace washer.



Tools Needed For Plumbing

Tips to Buying Tools

  1. Always buy quality tools when you can. American made tools are quality tools. A tool is an investment, it will help you create and repair things.
  2. Buy tools that have multiple purposes, such as buying an adjustable (crescent) wrench which will allow you to adjust or turn a wide variety of hex or square shaped nuts or objects.

General Hand Tools

Following is a list of general hand tools needed to do plumbing repair work:

8, and 10″ crescent wrenches
4 in one screwdriver
10″ channel lock pliers
18″ channel lock pliers
valve seat wrench
14 and 18″ pipe wrenches
hack saw

Power Tools

Following is a list of power tools needed to do plumbing repair and remodel work:

1/2 inch drill motor
4″ grinder

Copper Tools

Following is a list of tools needed for copper piping work:

1″ tubing cutter
MAPP gas torch
acid brush
fitting brushes

Drain Cleaning Tools

Following is a list of tools for drain cleaning:

vacuum plunger
force cup plunger
sink auger
closet auger
3/8″ drum auger
sewer auger