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Building Information Modeling (BIM)

Building Information Modeling, or BIM as it is most commonly referred to, may be the single
most misunderstood term in the AEC industry. For starters, the word Building in the
acronym needs to be dropped because the process refers to a lot more than just working
within the building envelope. Aside from my dislike of the title, I think BIM really is a
brilliant concept and it is the next step in the evolution of the design industry.
That being said, I still hear people ask that most basic question: what is BIM, really?
Well, put simply BIM is a process for integrating intelligent 3D models of every aspect of a
design into a single model from which you can extract ridiculous amounts of data. In other
words, you build every single component of your project, down to the most exacting detail
possible, within a virtual environment to ensure that all your materials and components
work the way you want, long before you run into problems in the field that you might have
overlooked in a traditional 2D design environment.
Now, you may be thinking thats a good thing for General Contractors and Architects, but is
it really important to the rest of us? After all, weve been designing in 2D for centuries and
its worked fine so far. How does BIM benefit transportation or landscaping firms? Wheres
the benefit for MEP or geotechnical folks? Well, the truth is that every single design industry
can reap important benefits from BIM if they employ it properly. Moreover, youre going to
find very soon that if you are not BIM capable, youre going to be out of the running for any
public works projects you may want to bid on. More and more capital projects in the public
sector are demanding BIM models of the work to be supplied to the client as part of the
deliverables for the job.
Once that happens, private work wont be far behind and you may find yourself unable to
land any work at all unless you can build a BIM model.
Now, that may seem like a daunting ask at first, but the truth is that most firms already
have the capability to do so, though they may not realize it. For years now, most of us have
been using design packages such as Civil 3D, Revit, and InfraWorks, etc.

Bim
Bim
Bim
Bim
Bim

Construction
CAD
Building
Revit
Architecture

We use them for their intelligent design capabilities and many of us dont realize that our
native design objects, like walls, surfaces, and corridors are the basic components of a BIM

model. They can all be assembled into a single model that can then be read by programs
such as NavisWorks, where you can do clash detection, scheduling, visualization and
timeline tracking for detailed construction scheduling and BOMs.
If you stop and think about it, BIM models make sense for everyone involved in a design
project. The transportation firm designs their road as a 3D corridor, which gives them great
control and detailed design information on their own portion of the project. That corridor
model is then given to the civil utilities engineer who located his piping and drainage off of
the road model, ensuring no conflicts and that his design correctly catches all runoff areas.
The utility and corridor goes to the landscape designer, who ensures his trees arent planted
to close to underground pipes as they grow, and that goes to the architect who uses all of
them in conjunction with his building layout, and on and on . . .
Once the design is complete, the BIM helps keep construction costs down and simplifies
scheduling for different material deliveries and trade times. That will make your client
happy, which is always a plus. Not to mention, having done conflict checks and preconstruction system verifications you avoid costly overruns, fighting with sub-contractors,
and possibly even extensive legal fees when people start playing the blame game. When its
all said and done, your client gets the entire BIM model as a deliverable. That means that
going forward, he has a virtual model of every component system of his site/structure that
he can use for future development and expansion. Now, before you get all grumpy and start
complaining that they can take that model and pass your design work off to another design
firm, stop and think. If youve developed all that for them and done a good job, chances are
youll get the next job on that site because you already have the data and understand the
details. Yes, it can potentially be passed to someone else but it would require weeks of
billable time for them to become comfortable with a model youd be ready to work within
hours. Trust me on this one: BIM will not hurt your bottom line, it will only help.
CLASH DEECTION:
Clash detection is an important and integral part of the BIM modeling process. Clash
detection arises out of the fact that, in BIM modeling, there is not just one model, but
several, that are, in the end integrated into a composite master model. Each discipline:
structural engineering, MEP engineering, environmental engineering, etc, creates a model,
independently of all the others, based upon the architects original model, which is the
starting point for all the other disciplines. After each of the disciplines has finished their
work, the next step in BIM modeling is clash detection, which is the process of finding where
the models "clash": elements of separate models occupying the same space, or with
parameters that are incompatible, or in 4D BIM modeling, a time sequence that is out of

order. Finding these inconsistencies is vital, as they would severely impact the construction
process, causing delays, design changes, materials costs and a cascade of headaches and
budget overruns.
Clash detection is not new; it's just that, in the past, clash detection took place on the
construction site, when the beam that the structural engineer designed is right in the path
of the air conditioning units the MEP engineer located. Huge expenses and costly delays
were necessary to fix this "clash detection". In BIM modeling, clash detection takes place
during the design phase, so that constructability issues can be resolved before construction
begins, saving vast sums of money, time and producing a better building. Prior to
computerization, clash detection was a manual process of overlaying drawings on a light
table to visually see clashes. 2D CAD operated essentially the same way, which did nothing
to help in this arena. It was 3D graphics that allowed for the inherent detection of clashes,
though in the earliest stages, this was often still done visually by the engineer, or if
automated returned many meaningless clashes, and since early on these objects were really
only defined surfaces, detection of objects within objects was impossible. So early 3D was
still time consuming and not even close to 100% accurate.
The advent of true BIM modeling included the integration of clash detection search
capabilities in the software, which tremendously enhanced the process, both in terms of
speed and accuracy. These methods actually have been borrowed from the gaming
community, where "collision detection" has been a feature of virtual reality for a long time.
Can't have monsters running through each other! But the real-time character of games
places their emphasis on speed, at the cost of accuracy. In BIM modeling, it's accuracy that
counts, though speed is important, but distinctly secondary.
The example below gives a visual, 2D idea of how BIM modeling clash detection algorithms
work. Fundamentally, a simpler shape is drawn around each object and then the program
checks to see if there is a geometric/spatial overlap. The simpler the shape, the faster the
BIM modeling algorithm can analyze the model
Comparing spheres (A & B above) is the fastest algorithm. Two spheres collide if the
distance between the centers of the two spheres is smaller than the sum of the radiuses of
the two spheres. Bounding Box (C & D above) is more accurate but slower. Clash detection
of the actual BIM modeling shapes ( E & F above) uses an intensely more difficult algorithm,
but correspondingly more accurate.
Most BIM modeling clash detection software uses a combination of these, and other
(triangle/ray) methods, by defining model objects into classes based upon the likelihood of

clash. Elements that have a low likelihood of clashing use the faster methods, while objects,
such as floor and ceiling beams, use the more accurate geometries, optimizing the process
for both speed and accuracy.
Clash detection in BIM modeling looks for three classes of clashes:

Hard Clash
Soft Clash\Clearance Clash
4D\Workflow Clash

Hard clash is exactly what it seems; two objects occupying the same space: a beam where
a plumbing run is designed, a column running right through a wall. Simple stuff. But BIM
modeling hard clash detection brings not only geometry based detection, but semantic and
rule-based detection algorithms, due to the embedded information in the BIM modeling
objects. Geometry based clash detection will return a clash for every recessed ceiling light,
or a pipe running through a wall. But clash detection rules based on embedded object data
can eliminate these common mistakes. The level of detail in BIM modeling is extremely
important for the accuracy and efficacy of clash detection. So are selection sets, which allow
a BIM modeling user to run clash detection between specific subsets of a model, such as
MEP against just ceilings, or structural against just walls.
Soft Clash/Clearance refers to objects that demand certain spatial/geometric tolerances
or buffers having objects within their buffer zone for access, insulation, maintenance or
safety. Soft clashes are one of the real avenues where BIM modeling clash detection has
brought new capability to the process. Custom "soft clash" detection can go as far as
checking components for building code adherence, based, of course, on a robust object data
population.
4D/Workflow clash detection refers to the ability of a BIM modeling project to resolve
scheduling clashes for work crews, equipment/materials fabrication and delivery clashes and
other project timeline issues.
After running clash detection scan, there are usually many duplicate instances of the same
clash. A plumbing line running through 8 wide-flange beams will show up as 8 clashes,
though in reality it's a single issue. Condensing and culling clashes is a normal part of the
BIM modeling clash detection process.
Clash detection technology breaks down into two arenas: (1) clash detection within the BIM
modeling design software and (2) separate BIM integration tools that perform clash
detection. Clash detection in instance (1) is limited due to the limited ability of most BIM

modeling design software to integrate multiple, non-proprietary models. The norm, however,
is that different disciplines of the design and construction team will do their work on
different software platforms. The structural team may be using Tekla, the architectural
model may be built using Revit, the electrical contractor may use Bentley, and the HVAC
engineers may deploy Graphisoft. These applications do not speak directly to each other and
so cannot alert one another that clashes occur. So instance (2) makes the most sense and
also generally has more powerful and sophisticated clash detection tools. However, the
drawback of most BIM integration software is that clashes cannot be fixed within the
integrated model. Interoperability issues render this software mostly one-way. Models can
be imported, but not altered and exported. As the non-proprietary, open-specification
interoperability IFC model specification gains more credence, this issue will be resolved.
The importance of clash detection in BIM modeling is hard to overstate. It has been
estimated that, industry-wide, each identified clash saves about $17,000 on a project. On
large projects, 2000-3000 clashes are not unusual. That's $34,000,000! So understanding
and using clash detection elements in BIM modeling software is crucial for engineers,
architects, owners and contractors.

3 Types Of 3D BIM Clash Detection Have Their Own Importance


Posted by Nikunj Patel on October 9th, 2014
BIM or Building information modelling has set entire AEC industry abuzz! Over the
years, it has proved to be quite useful to the architects, builders, engineers and
contractors, providing them with amazing and valuable insights into inherent
potentials of the structure for improvisation.
Since, BIM not only involves a single model; rather it is an amalgamation of different
disciplines like structural, MEP and environmental engineering, etc. As all these disciplines
work in tandem; it is important to establish a well-coordinated approach, where there is no
clash!
3D BIM Clash Detection forms an essential part of AEC. It is a process of discovering the
areas or elements which could possibly clash: or in other words, would occupy the same
space.

Clash detection and coordination, though is not an entirely new concept has gain an impetus
in the recent years. It has invariably played an important role in lowering down the
construction costs. It helps in limiting the huge budgets and averts the unnecessary and
expensive delays.
Unlike manual processes, where charts and drawings are overlaid a light table to find the
clashes; 3D graphics allows one to examine the intrinsic detection of clashes, at the earliest
stages. Hence, early 3D may be close to 100% accurate.
Moreover, clash detection and coordination helps one to find the incompatible and
inconsistencies much before the actual construction begins. Hence, it in a way it plays a
crucial role in avoiding delays, saves time and resources. Generally; the process is divided
into three types and each has its own significance.
Lets see these three different kinds of clashes and how detecting them at an early
stage benefits.
Hard clash
This kind of clash is said to occur with two objects are taking up the same space. Lets say a
beam which is going through a plumbing run is designed. This information is entered in the
BIM modeling objects.
Hard clash will provide you the detection based on the geometrical as well as on semantic
and rule-based algorithms.
Such clash recognition will create the clash possibilities for every lower ceiling light, or a
pipe passing through a wall. The level of detail and selection sets the stage for accurate and

effective BIM clash detection, as it is performed amid a specific number of subsets of a


model.
Soft Clash/Clearance Clash
Soft clash indicates that the object needs more positive spatial/geometric tolerances, spaces
and buffers within their buffer zone for better accessibility, insulation, maintenance and
safety.
Soft clash generates novel opportunities where BIM modeling clash detection creates new
possibility to the method. Customized soft clash detection is generally applied to test
elements for building code adherence.
4D/Workflow Clash
With 4D/Workflow clash detection method, you can determine scheduling clashes for the
crews, equipment/materials fabrication & delivery clashes. Moreover, other project timeline
issues can be examined and perceived using a BIM modeling project.
Wrapping it up, with these different types of BIM Clash and coordination; one can ensure an
error-less, consistent and technical perfect design which can lead to an effective
construction.
BUILDING DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION PROCESS STEP BY STEP
Reasonable people may disagree, but here are the sequential steps in designing and
building an ADU. This is an approximation of the steps for my ADU project, anyway. This
was for an ADU built in Portland, Oregon. Slab on grade, stick frame constructionpretty
standard ADU construction for this area.
Design Process

Funding
Brainstorm with other funder/executors
Talk to City Planner
Rough sketch some ideas with executors/friends
Talk to neighbors
Integrated Design Process
Interview architects (test them with some small space design questions: eg. What
are a couple things that you would do to make a small space feel and act bigger? tall

ceilings, join living/dining room, high windows, coupling functionality


Find builders and subs (ideally, you want to have identified a builder, plumber,

mechanical, electrical subcontractor


Architect draws up schematics for consideration
Have meeting- talk through design goals
Schematic refinement
3D model (use SketchUp)

Develop drawings for City


Permit process- In Portland, processing takes 10 days for new construction, then

another 10 days for corrections


Permits (see separate post about design and permitting)

Construction Process

Break Ground
Excavation
Foundation
Concrete Forms
Pour Foundation Wall
Concrete Slab Pour
Gravel
Water Barrier
Rigid Foam
Rebar (and PEX tubing for radiant floor heating)
Pour Concrete for Slab
Utilities
Sewer, Electrical, Water, Gas
Framing
Balloon Framing
Sheathing
Roof
Stairs
Windows
Roofing
Weather Resistant Barrier
Rain Screen
Rough Plumbing
Mechanical Sytems
HVAC
Lighting and Electrical
Ambient
Task
Accent
Perimeter
Air Sealing
Insulation
Spray Foam, Blown-in Insulation, or Batt Insulation
Drywall
Sheetrock, Mudding, Sanding, Primer
Siding
Flooring
Tiling
Painting
Cabinets, Shelving
Finish Plumbing
Finish Electrical and Lighting
Certificate of Occupancy
Modifications

Moving In

Concept design

Concept design is the first true design stage. It is the creative response to the project
brief for the preferred option.
Whilst concept design may begin with the creative ideas of a single individual, it is an
increasingly collaborative process that involves a team of designers and advisers coming
together, discussing options, opportunities and constraints, and then separating to carry out
more detailed assessment. Input from other members of the team will be required on cost,
safety,buildability, programme, health and safety and so on, as well as consultation with
third parties such as the local planning authority. Specialist input may be needed as the
concept develops and and so the design team may grow.
During the concept design stage, the consultant team will develop:

The design concept.

Outline specifications.

Schedules of accommodation.

A planning strategy.

The cost plan.

Procurement options.

Programme and phasing strategy.

Buildability and construction logistics.

Constraints and opportunities


The design will tend to be led by the architect (see lead designer), although there are
occasionally specialist projects where it may be more appropriate for the design team to be
led by another consultant, for example the services engineer on a highly-serviced building.
The creative itself process is an Illusive one, and despite attempts to systematise it, it tends
not to follow fixed rules. A very broad description of the design process is one of divergence,
assessment and then convergence. A single thought expands into a myriad of possibilities
that are developed, assessed and compared, before they are progressively rejected leaving
only the optimal solution remaining. This means that much of the work that is undertaken is
aborted and it can sometimes seem to clients as if there has been little result for significant
expenditure of fees. This feeling can be exacerbated by the fact that creative design tends

to be an internal thought process that designers find difficult to express. Design involves
attempting to solve problems that may be only loosely understood at the outset, and
solutions are not necessarily been reached by a purely logical process. This can make it
difficult for clients to assess proposals objectively, other than by comparing them to the
requirements set out in the brief, verifying that designershave considered appropriate issues
(see concept architectural design checklist and design quality) and assessing value for
money.
To avoid surprises, it is important that the client is fully involved in the concept
design process, and that whilst developing the concept, the project brief also evolves as the
both the client and the design team come to understand requirements and preferences
better. On large projects this may involve identifying a number client champions given
responsibility for monitoring the brief and design quality within a specific area of the
project. Value management exercises may be necessary where the cost of the evolving
design begins to exceed the budget.
At the end of the stage, the consultant team will prepare a concept design report for
the clientwhich records the basic design concepts for the preferred option. The concept
design report will also identify any instructions required from the client. The project
brief should be frozen on approval of the concept design and change control
procedures introduced.
An application for planning permission might be made during the concept design stage. This
is likely to be an outline planning application if made at the beginning of the stage or
a detailed planning application if made once the concept design is complete.
Detailed design

Detailed design (sometimes referred to as design development or detailed


design and technical design) takes on and develops the approved concept design.
By the end of this stage the design should describe all the main components of the building
and how they fit together, but the design will not have been packaged for tender (obtaining
prices fromcontractors). Detailed design should provide sufficient information for
applications for statutory approvals, such as building regulations approval, and may include
an application for detailed planning permission if this has not already been done. This is
likely to require a process of consultation and negotiation with the local authority and
other stakeholders and third parties (see third part dependencies).

The completed detailed design should include:

Overall layout.

Road layouts and landscape.

Operational flows.

Horizontal and vertical circulation routes.

Schedules of accommodation.

Identification of standard and non-standard room layouts.

If appropriate, room data sheets.

Building dimensions and gridlines.

Architectural plans sections and elevations of buildings, parts of buildings and


components.

Outline specification including schedules of components, defining the performance


and/or material standards required (including colours).

Elements of design that require specialist input or early choice of manufacturer.

Requirements for mock-ups, testing, samples or models necessary to satisfy


performance or public relations requirements (including computer generated images).

Key assemblies, component drawings and schedules.

Initial schedules of finishes, doors and ironmongery, sanitary fittings, room numbers
and signage.

Structural plans sections, elevations and specifications.

Building services plans, sections and elevations.

Definition of phases if the project is to be phased.

Safety strategy.

Fire strategy.

Acoustic separation and acoustic conditions.

The use of materials and the potential for re-use, recycling and waste handling.

Detailed cost plan showing the capital and lifecycle costs for all the components.

Risk assessment including operational issues such as lifts, cleaning of atrium roofs
and facade etc.
See detailed design for more information.
Increasingly, detailed design involves input from specialist designers. These may;
be contractorsor suppliers appointed in the first instance to carry out design and
subsequently to carry out the works on site or to supply goods or services, or appointed by
the client to carry out design and then perhaps to monitor works on site, or sub-

consultants to a member of the consultant team. See specialist designers for more
information. A design co-ordinator might be appointed to ensure proper integration and coordination of specialist designs into the overall design.
As with the concept design stage, value management exercises may be necessary where the
cost of the evolving design begins to exceed the budget.
A detailed design report should be prepared for approval by the client before proceeding to
the next stage.
Production information

The production information stage is concerned with preparing the information that
thecontractor(s) will need to construct the project. It should also include the completion of
applications for statutory approvals such as building regulations approval. The quality
ofproduction information is extremely important. Unless it is prepared and co-ordinated
properly, there will be disputes and delays on site, and unecessay costs will be incurred.
Production information may include:

Drawings (location drawings, component drawings and dimensioned diagrams).

Specifications, design criteria and calculations.

Bills of quantities or schedules of work..


Increasingly software is used to prepare elements of production information such
as computer aided design (CAD) to prepare drawings and proprietary systems for the
preparation ofspecifications. Recently, building information modelling (BIM) has begun to
allow the automatic generation of all elements of production information from a single coordinated model, resulting in a reduction in errors and so costs.
At the end of this stage, a production information report should be prepared for the clients
approval. This is the last opportunity for the client to consider issues to do with the design
of the development before the tender process begins. It may also be the first time that
the client has seen drawings describing key components (such as door handles), assemblies
and specialist items. As a result, the client may wish to issue the production information
report (or parts of it) for consideration to key users and perhaps to their lawyer or
other independent client advisers. Once the main contractor has been appointed,
subsequent changes can become very expensive.

Ongoing design development

When production information is complete, the project can be tendered and


a contractor appointed to complete the works.
Design may still be necessary, for example, if it had not been possible to complete the
design of every aspect of the building before appointing the contractor, or if the project is
constructed in phases. There may also need to be solutions developed to problems that
emerge on site.
On different procurement routes, such as construction management, the construction of
below ground works such as foundations may begin before the design of the above ground
works is complete. However this are inherently risky and may leave the client exposed to
additional costs.
Design work also be carried out by the contractor, suppliers and sub-contractors, but this
should fall outside of the responsibility of the main design team, unless co-ordination or
approval is required.

Plumbing, Drain and Sewer Glossary

Definitions and explanations of common plumbing, drain and sewer


terms, tools, techniques and fixtures.

ABS: Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene. A black plastic pipe used in plumbing for drains and
vents.

Absorption Field: A leeching or seeping field engineered to receive septic tank effluent.

Adjustable Hot Limit Stop: Restricts hot water output in single control faucets and showers
to protect against scalding by limiting the swing to the hot side.

Aerator: A screen-like insert screwed onto a faucet outlet. It mixes air with the flowing water
to reduce splashing.

Air Admittance Valve: A plumbing device that replaces a traditional vent to allow air to enter
the pipe and equalize pressure, preserving the seal of water in the fixture trap.

Air Gap: In the drainage system, the unobstructed vertical opening between the lowest
opening of a waste line and the flood level of the device into which it empties. Its purpose is
to prevent backflow contamination.

Auger (or Closet Auger): A bendable rod with curved end used by plumbers to remove
clogs from a toilets trap.

Back Pressure: Pressure that resists the flow of fluid in a piping system.

Back Flow: When water traveling from one system backs into any part of the main
distribution system, usually by siphoning.

Back Flow Preventer: A device to prevent back flow, especially into a potable water supply.
Required for sprinkler systems, handheld showers, pullout faucet spouts, and kitchen
sprayers.

Backup: Overflow of a plumbing fixture due to drain stoppage.

Baffle: An object placed in an appliance to change the direction of, or slow down the flow of
air, gases or water.

Balancing Valve: A water heater valve that controls water flow and balances heat
distribution to different locations.

Ball Check Valve: A valve that uses a ball to seal against a seat to stop flow in one
direction.

Ball Joint: A spherical assembly in shower heads that allows the head to pivot and rotate.

Ballcock: A valve in the tank of a gravity-operated toilet that controls refilling of the tank. It is
connected to a float via a metal arm. After flushing, the toilet refills until the float rises high
enough to shut off the valve.

Backflow Preventer: A device that prevents wastewater and other contaminants from
flowing into the potable water supply. Generally required for sprinkler systems, hand-held
showers installed in bathtubs, faucets with pullout spouts, kitchen sprayers, and the like.

Bidet: A plumbing fixture similar in appearance to a toilet bowl used for personal hygiene. It
is floor mounted, usually next to a toilet, and consists of a washing basin, faucet and sprayer.

Blackwater: Waste water from a toilet.

Bleed: To drain a pipe of excess air by opening a valve at the end of the pipe.

Blow Torch: A torch used by plumbers to solder pipes, activated by pressurized fuel and air
to generate its flame.

Blowbag: A drain-cleaning device consisting of a rubber bladder with a hose fitting on one
end and a nozzle on the other. The device attaches to a water hose and is inserted into a
clogged drainpipe. As water is introduced, it expands to grip the pipe, and releases pulsating
bursts of water through the nozzle, forcing water through the pipe to clear the obstruction.
Also known as a blowfish.

Blowdown: Partial venting or draining, under pressure, of the water side of a boiler to
reduce or remove unwanted contaminants. Also the pressure drops after releasing a
pressure-relief valve.

Boiler: A sealed tank where water is turned to steam for heating or power.

Boiler Feed: A check valve controlling inlet water flow to a boiler.

Bonnet: The top portion of a compression valve assembly, it holds the valve in place as it is
tightened against the valve seat at the other end of the assembly.

Brackish Water: Water containing bacteria between 1,000 and 15,000 ppm of dissolved
solids.

Brass: Slang for faucets and fittings regardless of materials used.

Burst Pressure: The internal pressure that will cause a piece of tubing to fail.

Branch Drain: Plumbing fixture drain that leads to the main drain line.

Bushing: A fitting thats threaded inside and outside that joins pipes of different sizes.

CPVC: Stands for chlorinated polyvinyl chloride. A black plastic pipe that can handle high
temperatures. Mostly used in water supply systems.

Cleanout Plug: A plug in a trap or drain pipe that provides access for the purpose of clearing
an obstruction.

Closet Bend: A curved waste pipe fitting under a toilet that connects the closet flange to the
drain.

Closet Flange: A ring that anchors the toilet to the floor and connects it to the closet bend.
Also known as a Floor Flange.

Collar: A galvanized sheet metal restricting device used in conjunction with plastic pipe. Its
function is to direct and control the intumescent action of the firestopping material.

Compression Fitting: A kind of tubing or pipe connection where a nut and a sleeve or
ferrule is placed over a copper or plastic tube and is compressed tightly around the tube as
the nut is tightened forming a positive grip and seal without soldering.

Coupling: A short fitting used to join two pieces of pipe.

Cowl: A short fitting used to join two pieces of pipe.

Dam: A barrier in the trapway of a toilet that controls the water level in the toilet bowl.

Diaphragm: A flexible membrane in a valve that deflects down onto a rigid area of the valve
body to regulate water flow from the supply lines. This eliminates the possibility of debris
build-up within the valve.

Diffuser: A device used to reduce the velocity and increasing the static pressure of a fluid
passing through a system.

Dip Tube: A tube inside the water heater that sends cold water to the bottom of the tank.

Diverter: A faucet valve that redirects water from the tub faucet to the shower head.

Dope: A lubricant used by plumbers on pipe threads.

Drain-Waste-Vent System: A pipe system that drains wastewater from the bathroom and
vents the drain system.

Effluent: Septic system liquid waste.

Elbow: A curved fitting, usually 90 or 45, used to change the direction of a pipe run. Also
called an ell.

Escutcheon: A decorative metal flange or plate that covers and hides the supply line hole in
the fixture or wall.

Fitting: Any part that joins together two sections of pipe. Comes in many shapes, sizes &
connection styles. Examples: elbows, couplings, bends, wyes, etc.

Fixture: Anything that accepts or discharges water or wastewater: faucets, sinks, toilets,
tubs.

Flange: The rim or edge at end of a pipe shaft that aids in connecting it to another pipe or
anchoring it to a surface.

Flapper: A rubber flap with ball-like shape in the bottom of a toilet lifts to allow flushing and
seals off the tank for refilling. Allows water to flow from the tank into the bowl.

Flex Coupling: A rubber fitting that uses steel band clamps to attach to the pipe ends.
Mostly used to join sections of DWV pipe, but also connects PVC to clay or cast iron pipe.

Flow Control Valve: Device designed to reduce water flow to a plumbing fixture. Often used
to improve efficiency and reduce operating costs.

Flow Rate: Measurement of water flow through a plumbing system in gallons per minutes
(GPM) or gallons per hour (GPH).

Float Ball: A floating device connected to the ballcock inside the toilet tank to activate or
shut off the ballcock.

Flux: A jelly-like substance used in soldering copper pipes and fittings. Applied before
soldering to aid bonding and prevent oxidation.

Galvanizing: The process of applying a coating of zinc to the finished product to provide
corrosion protection. The coating can be applied by hot dipping or electrolytic deposition.

Gasket: Flat device usually made of fiber or rubber used to provide a watertight seal
between metal joints.

Gate: A device that controls the flow in a conduit, pipe, or tunnel.

Gate Diverter: The pop-up lever on a tub faucet that activates the diverter valve.

Gauge: The thickness of stainless steel and is commonly used in reference to quality grades
on certain types of lavatories and sinks. 10 and 20-gauge stainless steel sinks go through a
number of polishing and buffing operations to ensure a beautiful finish.

GPF: Stands for Gallons Per Flush. The rate of water flow by which toilets and flush valves
are measured and regulated. Current law requires maximum of 1.6 GPF. Older styles were
usually 3.5 GPF.

Gravity Operated Toilet: A toilet which relies on the natural downward pressure of water in
a toilet tank to flush the toilet effectively.

Gray Water: Waste water from fixtures other than toilets.

Grease Trap: A device that captures grease entering a system before it reaches the sewer
lines. Usually used in commercial applications such as restaurants or cafeterias.

Hard Water: Natural water containing impurities in various proportions. Traditional hardness
is a measure of calcium, minerals or dissolved solids in a solution, measured in parts per
million. Hard water generally ranges from 100 to 250 ppm.

Hanger: A device used to support pipes.

Hose Bibb: An outdoor faucet, also used to supply washing machines.

ID: Stands for inside diameter. Measures the inside width of a pipe.

Impeller: A rotating wheel with vanes found inside a centrifugal pump. As it spins at high
speed it draws fluids in and thrusts them under pressure to the discharge outlet.

Interceptor: A device for separating grease and oil from drainage systems.

kPa: A metric unit for pressure. 100 kPa = one atmosphere.

L Tubing: An industry standard for copper tubing defined by the tube wall thickness and
identified by a blue strip. Type L copper tube wall is approximately 50 percent greater
thickness than type M.

Leach Lines: Pipes that carry effluent from the septic system out to the leach field, a porous
soil area where treated waste is emptied.

Low Consumption Toilet: A class of toilet designed to flush using 1.6 gallons of water or
less. Also known as water-saving toilets.

M Tubing: An industry standard for copper tubing defined by the tube wall thickness.
Identified by a red stripe.

Main: The primary artery of the supply or drain system to which all the branches connect.
Referred to as the Main Vent in the vent system.

Manifold: A fitting that connects a number of branches to the main; serves as a distribution
point.

Mapp Gas: A colorless, flammable gas made by combining liquefied petroleum gas with
Methylacetylene-Propadiene. It is a stable, non-toxic fuel used in brazing and soldering.

MCL: Maximum Contaminant Level The maximum level of a contaminant allowed in water
by federal law.

Metal Fatigue: A breakage of the metal caused by the bending and flexing or the expansion
and contraction of a metal part beyond its endurance limit.

Nipple: A short piece of pipe installed between couplings or other fittings.

No-Hub Connector: A connector for no-hub iron pipe consisting of a rubber sleeve and a
stainless steel band secured by hose clamps. A variation, a neoprene sleeve with two
adjustable steel bands, is used for connecting dissimilar materials, as when connecting new
plastic pipe to an existing cast-iron drainpipe.

Non-ferrous: Not containing iron.

Oakum: Loosely woven hemp rope that has been treated with oil or other waterproofing
agent; it is used to caulk joints in a bell and spigot pipe and fittings.

Overflow Hood: On a bath drain, the decorative hood concealing the overflow.

Overflow Tube: The vertical tube inside a toilet tank that directs water into the bowl in case
the ballcock malfunctions and prevents potential water damage caused by a tank overflow. A
constant running condition alerts the user to an overflow problem. On most toilets, the
overflow tube also has a refill tube flowing into it, which directs water from the ballcock
through the overflow tube to the bowl, after a siphon break.

O-Ring: A rubber washer that is round instead of flat. Used in valve stems to create a
watertight seal.

OD: Stands for outside diameter. Measures the outside width of a pipe.

PB: Stands for polybutylene. A bendable plastic tubing most often used to supply water to
bathroom fixtures.

PE: Stands for polyethylene. A flexible plastic supply line.

PEX: Stands for cross-linked polyethylene. A flexible plastic supply line that is stronger than
PE. In bathrooms, it is used for water supply lines.

Plumbers Putty: A dough-like putty that seals joints between fixture surfaces and metal
pieces, such as the drain.

Plumbing Snake: A thin, flexible length of spiral-wound metal, which is inserted into a drain
and rotated to clear anything that is clogged in the pipes.

Plunger: A rubber suction cup approx 6 in diameter attached to a wooden dowel handle
used to free drain clogs. Also known as a plumbers helper.

Pop-Up Drain: Remote control drain assembly. Also known as a trip lever drain for tubs.

Potable: Water that is suitable for consumption.

Pressure Balance Valve: A shower valve that monitors fluctuations in pressure to maintain
balance between hot and cold water so that temperature remains constant.

Pressure Head: Pressure in a plumbing system. The unit of measure which is the vertical
force exerted by water at a depth of one foot.

PVC: Stands for polyvinyl-chloride. A rigid white plastic pipe used for bathroom drain, waste
and vent pipes.

Reducer: A fitting that allows pipes of different sizes to be joined together.

Relief Valve: A valve that opens to relieve excess temperature and/or pressure in the
system.

Return: A plumbing fitting with a 180-degree bend.

Riser: A supply line pipe that rises from one story to the next; also the short vertical pipes
that bring water from the branch to the fixture.

Scald Guard: A valve designed to prevent extreme water temperature changes through
pressure balance technology. When there is a drop in hot or cold water pressure, the scaldguard valve shifts back and forth behind the shower handle to compensate for the sudden
change. This valve maintains a constant water temperature to help give you and your family
a safe and enjoyable bathing experience.

Scale: A thin coating or layer, usually calcium on the bottom of a tank or interior parts that
may prevent heat transfer.

Sediment: The substance that settles on the bottom of a water tank. Also known as lime.

Septic Tank: A tank used to detain domestic wastes to allow the settling of solids prior to
distribution. Septic tanks are used when a sewer line is not available to carry them to a
treatment plant.

Service Partner Plan (SPP): The Horizon Services Service Partner Plan (SPP) is a great
way to be sure that in case of an emergency, you are guaranteed the priority service you
deserve as a valued customer. Benefits, include, priority service for plumbing, heating and
air conditioning calls (routine or emergency), a 15% discount on all repairs, and no additional
charge for overtime or emergency calls!

Shutoff Valve: Valves installed under sinks and toilets used to shut off water supply in the
event of a malfunction or repair. Also called an Angle Stop, Straight Stop or Supply Stop.

Siphoning: The suction or pulling effect that takes place in the trapway of a toilet as it is
filled with outgoing water and waste.

Sleeve: A pipe which is passed through a wall for the purpose of inserting another pipe
through it.

Soft Water: Water that has been treated so that it has low mineral content.

Solder: A metal alloy that is melted to create a fused joint between metal pieces. Also the act
of melting solder into the joint.

Soil Pipe: A pipe that carries waste from toilets.

Sweep: A pipe bend fitting used in drains to permit smooth passage of waste.

T&P Valve: Temperature and pressure valve. A valve that opens to release excess pressure
and temperature in a system.

Tailpiece: The section of pipe that runs between a fixture outlet and the trap.

Tee: A plumbing fitting in the shape of the letter T, used to connect three sections of pipe.

Tee Fitting: A fitting that allows another pipe to be joined at a 90-degree angle.

Teflon Tape: White tape made of fluorocarbon polymer. It has non-stick properties and is
wrapped around pipe threads in a joint to create a tight seal.

Trap: A curved section of drain that traps a small portion of water to prevent sewer gases
from escaping into the bathroom. P traps and S traps are the types of traps most
commonly found in bathrooms.

Trap Seal: The water in a trap or toilet that prevents sewer gases from escaping back
through the drain.

Valve: A device that regulates the flow of water.

Valve Seat: The immovable portion of a valve. Water flow is stopped when the movable
portion of the valve comes in contact with the valve seat.

Vent: A vertical or sloping portion of drain pipe that allows sewer gasses to escape from the
house into the outdoor air and lets air into the drain system to keep air pressure balanced
and prevent water in traps from being siphoned off.

Water Hammer Arrestor: A device installed near a fixture to absorb the hydraulic shock that
happens when a fixtures supply is suddenly shut off, causing water hammer, a loud banging
noise in the pipes.

Wet Vent: A pipe that both drains wastewater and vents air into the drains. Connects two or
more fixtures.

Wax Ring: A seal located between floor flange and toilet to prevent leakage and fumes.

Wye Fitting: A drain fitting that allows one pipe to be joined to another at a 45-degree angle.

LIST OF PLUMBING TERMINOLOGY


ABS Acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene. Rigid black plastic pipe used for Drain, waste, and

ABS Pipe and Fittings


vent lines. Please check your local codes to see if this material is code approved. In most major
metropolitan areas it is not a code approved material.
Absorbent A material that is used to hold gases, liquids or solids or suspended solids on its
surface or inside pores. The most common absorbent used in the plumbing world is activated
carbon.
Absorption Field This is a seeping field designed to disperse the liquid waste from a septic
tank through a filter bed. The septic tank fills with liquid and solid waste and the liquid waste
drains off to the absorption field leaving the solid waste behind.

Access Panel -A covered opening in wall made near a plumbing or electrical fixture to allow
access for maintenance. In plumbing an access panel would hide control or shut off valves or
cleaouts for rodding plumbing fixtures.
Acid Dilution Basin A plumbing appurtenance connected to waste piping servicing a part of a
building receiving corrosive or acid waste. Most acid neutralizing basins use limestone as the
neutralizing media. Here are some applications where an acid dilution should be used, school
labs, hospitals, research facilities, pharmaceutical manufacturing, printing facilities, automotive
service centers, film processing, etc.
Acid Waste Any waste water containing corrosives or acidic liquids that must be neutralized
before entering the municipal sewer system. Most often fixtures receiving acid waste are
connected to an acid dilution basin which neutralizes acid before the waste water enters the
sewer.
Acid Waste Piping Simply put its waste piping and fittings that are resistant to acid

Orion Acid Waste Products


waste. Examples of applications where this is used, laboratories, hospitals, photo labs and
printing presses. Some of the materials used in making acid resistant pipe and fittings; glass,
polypropylene and polyvinylidene fluoride for really harsh situations. Polyvinylidene fluoride is
also fire retardant and when approved can be used in a plenum ceiling.

Acrylic A very strong and hard thermoplastic and in plumbing it is used as a surface material
for bathtubs, shower bases, tub or shower surrounds. When used in bathtubs and showers acrylic
is usually back with fiberglass to add strength and rigidity. Acrylic is also used to make
plexiglass shower doors.
ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) This term is very important as it relates to plumbing.
It affects the height that water closets can be mounted, the types of handles you can install on a
lavatory faucet, how much pressure it takes to push down a flush valve handle and those are just
a few. Here is a link to the 2010 ADA Standards
publicationwww.ada.gov/regs2010/2010ADAStandards/2010ADAStandards.pdf

Adaptor A fitting used to join dissimilar piping methods i.e. sweat copper to threaded fittings,
PVC to cast iron.
Adjusting Linkage An adjustable rod or strap that forms the connection between the lift rod
and the ball lever assembly of the drain.
Aeration a method to introduce air with water to help in releasing dissolved gasses that
contribute to foul odors or unpleasant taste. Aeration can be done in several different ways, air
can be bubbled up through the liquid, liquid can be sprayed into the air or the liquid can be
agitated oxygenating it by bringing the surface water in to contact with the air. The best example
we can give for the use and effects of aeration is the cleansing of the Calumet Sag River in
Illinois. Large parks where created along the Calumet Sag River pumping millions of gallons of
water through attractively created waterfalls. The results have been staggering.
Aerator Fittings a type of fitting installed on a plumbing fixture that mixes water with

Faucet Aerator Fitting


air. These fittings help with water conservation and reduce splashing.
Aerobic Bacteria Bacteria living, active and occurring in the presence of oxygen.
AGA (American Gas Association)
A.I.A -(American Institute of Architects) This is basically a self policing regulating body that
promotes excellence in architecture. They are heavily involved in all facets of education for their
members from internship, to mentoring to licensing and support. A.I.A. is also the preferred
method by which sub contractors invoice their customers. Chances are if youve been a
subcontractor for awhile you know exactly what G701, G702 and a G703 form is for. If you are
familiar with all of the AIA forms are you probably have a head ache, they can be tedious but
they are ultimately there to protect the Owner.

Air Admittance Valve The most common of these is called a STUDOR vent, these valves are
designed to allow air into a drainage system with out using a vent. It opens to allow air to
equalize pressure in the drainage system but closes to stop sewer odors and gases into the living
space.
Air Chamber -A vertical air filled pipe or manufactured

Typical Shower Air Chambers


spring coil installed above the waterline in a potable water system that absorbs pressure
fluctuations when valves are turned off i.e. a shower is turned off or a fill valve in a toilet slams
shut. The pressure absorbing devices reduce water hammer. Having air chambers on plumbing
fixtures with water connections is code for most municipalities.

Air Gap on a Lavatory


Air Gap The unobstructed physical distance between the outlet end of a plumbing apparatus
or piping delivering potable water to a plumbing fixture to the flood rim level of the receptacle
(sink, dishwasher, clothes washer or tank) Think of a kitchen sink faucet with a pullout spray if
you pulled it out and laid it in the sink you would have no air gap. The air gap protects the
potable water system from cross contamination. Please see Backflow Prevention Device,
Vacuum breaker, double detector check valves.
All Thread Rod a connecting rod used in almost every construction trade. In the mechanical
trades it is mostly used to hang piping materials from the underside of a the structure of the
building.. Threads are in one direction and standard hex nuts can easily be screwed on to secure a
multitude of different hangers. Come in a variety of sizes and finishes. Most common sizes in the

piping trades are 1/4, 3/8,1/2, 5/8 & 3/4 its most common finishes are black and galvanized,
stainless steel is also a common material.
Anaerobic Bacteria Bacteria that lives and grows in the absence of free oxygen. These
bacteria get their oxygen by decomposing substances that contain oxygen.

Common Angle Stop


Angle Stop or Angle Valve Angle stops are named because they are manufactured at a
90degree angle, they are used as shut off valves at the water intake of plumbing fixtures or
appliances. They usually have an oval handle or can have a removable handle when vandalism or
theft is an issue. They are not meant to be used in high pressure situations.
ANSI (American National Standards Institute) The American National Standards Institute
was founded in 1918 and they are the U.S. voice for conformity and regulation. ANSI is
compromised of government agencies, academic institutions, manufacturers and contractors and
their purpose is to enhance the US global position and to create regulations, norms and
guidelines. Those regulations affect almost all businesses from every sector.
Anti Microbial (plumbing definition) Any plumbing fixture or plumbing accessory that is
manufactured with anti-microbial characteristics integral to the product. An anti-microbial
plumbing product is one that kills or hinders the growth of bacteria, mold, etc. Vitreous china is
naturally anti-microbial when glazed because of its glazing and non porous surface. Recently
toilet seats are a common plumbing accessory manufactured with anti-microbial properties.
Anti-scald Valve (please see pressure balanced and thermostatic mixing valve)

Americast A patented process from American Standard that uses a porcelain surface, an
enameling grade steel material and a structural composite backing bonded together to create a
sink that is similar to cast iron in durability, heat retention and sound deadening but weighs
considerably less therefore it is cheaper to install.

Annealing In plumbing the process by which rigid copper is made soft and pliable. The
process consists of heating the metal to a certain temperature and holding that temperature for a
set amount of time then allowing the metal to cool slowly to room temperature.
Anode Rod These sacrificial anode rods are installed at the top of a water heater tank and are
generally made of magnesium or aluminum with a steel core. Simply put, through electrolysis
the anode rods will corrode before the exposed metal in the tank. If the anode rod has been
corroded the water begins to attack the exposed metals in your water heater which will
eventually cause it to fail.

Anti-Siphon Valve (Vacuum Breaker) The simple definition is an anti-siphon


valve is a device installed on a water supply line that prevents water from backing up into the
potable water system. Vacuum breakers are an example of an anti-siphon valve. Anti-siphon
valve are most commonly spring loaded one way valves. When the direction of flow is going in
desired direction all works well, if the direction of liquid changes the valve slams shut prevent
back siphonage.

Bathtub Apron

Apron (or Skirt) The decorative portion of a bathtub that covers the rough-in area of the tub.
It is most easily recognized on a whirlpool tub, the apron is most often removable to be able to
service the tubs plumbing and or motor.

ASA (American Supply Association) Formally founded in December of 1969 the ASA is an
organization that represents wholesale distributor and their supplier in the plumbing, heating,
cooling, industrial and mechanical pipe, valve and fittings industries.
ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) A professional member ship group
founded in 1890, this group originally came together to test steam vessels because of the
numerous failures. Now it is the premiere standards development organization. Setting codes and
standards throughout the mechanical trades.
ASSE (American Society of Sanitary Engineering) Founded in 1906 by Henry Davis Chief
Plumbing Inspector for the District of Columbia. This group consisted of plumbing engineers,
plumbing inspectors and installers all with the common idea of making plumbing safer and more
universal though out the United States. They also have quite a bit of influence as to the adoption
of plumbing code and the vital testing of plumbing product and theory.
ASTM International (formerly know as American Society for Testing Materials) Formed in
1898 by chemists and engineers from the Pennsylvania Railroad they organized the railroads
new chemistry department, where they investigated the technical properties of oil, paint, steel,
and other materials the Pennsylvania Railroad bought in large quantities. Organized a new set of
standard that they expected their suppliers to follow. At the present they are globally recognized
leaders in the development and delivery of international voluntary consensus standards Please
visit their web site for a more detailed history.
Back Fl0w The circumstance of water traveling from one system back into any part of the
main distribution system, usually by siphoning.
Back Flow Preventer The two most common types of back flow prevention devices are a
double detector check assembly and an RPZ. A double detector check assembly is one device
that houses two check valve assemblies in the line of flow. The check valves are spring actuated
and are designed to open with 1 pound of pressure.

The double detector check assembly is installed with one (1) gate valve on the inlet of the valve
and one (1) gate valve on the outlet side of the valve. These assemblies prevent back flow or
back pressure in nonhazardous situations and are most used to protect the potable water system
of a building from the water in a fire prevention system.
A detector check is made with a by-pass assembly and meter to detect any unauthorized or illegal
taps, test cocks are also present so that required yearly testing can take place. Each check valve
can be isolated and tested independently to see if they are leaking and operating properly.
An RPZ is very similar to the double detector check in that it houses two testable check
valves. It has two gate valves one (1) on the inlet and one (1) on the outlet. Here is where things
change, an RPZ is used in high hazard situations, where contamination of the water supply
would pose a significant health hazard.RPZ (reduced pressure zone backflow preventer) and
Double Detector Check Valve
Backpressure in a Plumbing System Pressure that is less than atmospheric pressure. If a
sewer drain line is running at 100% capacity and with greater than intended velocity if the waste
water passes another drain outlet it could cause a negative pressure. This negative pressure can
pull a water seal from a trap causing sewer gas or vermin into the living space. Extremely high
winds can also pull the air from the plumbing vent pulling the trap seals with it.
Backup (Sewer) The overflow of water usually combined with waste from a plumbing fixture
caused by a blockage in the fixture drain or waste line servicing the aforementioned plumbing
fixture.
Back-up Sump Pumps Literally any pumping device that acts to back-up the primary

Battery Back-up System

sump in case of power failure or primary pump failure. Most back-up sump devices include
some sort of marine battery either wet cell or maintenance free gel battery. There are back-up
sump pumps that use no electricity and function on incoming water pressure.
Backwash Cycle No this isnt what youre sibling leaves in the bottom of the Gatorade bottle.
The Backwash cycle is a process a water softener or water filter goes into, usually preprogrammed for off hours, whereby the water flow is reversed cleaning the filter media. The
waste water is sent to an open site drain.
Backwater Valve A valve that is installed on the house sewer that prevents water from backing
up into the house. The most common use for a backwater valve is in situations where the city
sewer is combined waste and storm. In these cases during torrential rain the city sewer runs full
with only one place to go, back into the house or businesses connected to it, a backwater valve is
installed in this situation.
Baffle An object or screen placed in a plumbing fixture or appurtenance to change the direction
of or retard the flow of water or flue gasses. The most common baffles used in plumbing are the
ones found in a grease separator. The baffles are used to slow down the incoming waste water,
allowed the suspended grease and solids to cool and rise to the top for easy removal.

J.R. Smith Backwater Valves


Balancing Cocks or Valves A valve with an adjustable partition or gate which can be used to
increase or decrease flow. They also have self sealing ports in which thermometers can be
inserted to check the temperatures of the liquids.
Ball Cock The valve by which the water enters a tank type toilet (water closet), fills the tank
and shuts the flow of water off when the water reaches a predetermined height in the tank.
Barrier Free This relates to ADA and handicap access, the easiest to understand is the barrier
free shower base. A barrier free shower base has little or no threshold to encumber a wheelchair

from entering or exiting.

Basin Wrench Is a tool that only has one real use , its inexpensive and pretty easy to

Standard Basin Wrench


use. A basin wrench actually looks like a steel bar with a curved head with teeth on one end. The
other end ends with a T handle. Obviously turn the water off before using. Go under the sink and
position the head at a 90 angle catching the nut, turn in the appropriate direction to remove and
your all set. If the sink faucet is too high to reach you may have to pull out the extended handle.
Basket Strainer A device shaped like a cup or a basket with holes or slots that fits inside a
drain that allows water to drain out but catches debris before it enters the waste piping.

Basket Strainer
Beam Clamps A clamping device used when beams are the only thing used for support. They
are used in conjunction with pipe hangers to ensure proper support and pitch. The beam can be cclamp type or can span the entire beam.
Bench Mark It is a known elevation set throughout a building or job site that all trades can use
to locate proper elevations for doors, windows, plumbing fixtures etc. An elevation will be set
usually by the general contractor in accordance with the engineer and all trades can measure

from that elevation. It can also be a mark on a permanent flat service whereby it is used to lay
out walls, columns, stairwells, etc.
Bends A generic term given to all elbows made from all types of piping material.
Bidets A plumbing fixture about the same height as a seat of a chair that is most often used for
the bathing of the external genitals and the posterior parts of the body.
Biodegradable Any material subject to degradation to simpler substances by way of biological
action i.e. aerobic and anaerobic decomposition. Substances that are considered biodegradable
are detergents, human waste, organic matter.
Black Water Waste water from toilet, urinals, bidets or food prep receptacles or waste water
from drains receiving chemical waste.

Bleed (Water System) To drain a pipe or piping system of excess air by opening plumbing
valves or appurtenances exposed to the atmosphere i.e. shower valves, faucets and drain down
valve.
Blind Plug A plug or cap used on no-hub piping to end a drain line. It is affixed to the end of
the pipe by a no-hub coupling.
BOCA CODE (Building Officials Code Administrators International)
Body Sprays For all practical purposes these are shower heads. Some are hand held,

Body Spray Tiles


some are on a sliding bar so that the can be moved up or down and some are positioned
throughout a shower to spray on different parts of your body while showering.
Boilers See PlumbingMechanical Equipment

Brackish Water Any water containing bacteria between 1,000 and 15,000 ppm of dissolved
solids.
Braided Supplies A flexible pressure tubing usually made of synthetic material that is encased
in braided threads of steel or stainless steel. The braided covering protects the synthetic tubing
from damage due to abrasions and crimping.
Branch Vent A vent connecting one or more individual vents with the vent stack.
Branch Water Piping The local domestic water piping that extends from the vertical risers (or
other mains) and supplies water to plumbing fixtures or equipment.
Brass Seats and Seals In a plumbing valve the surface area on the moving part of a valve and
the stationary part of the valve. When the moving part of the valve comes in contact with the
non-moving part the flow of water stops completely. The most common material used for valves
seats is brass. Brass seats eventually have to be repaired or replaced because with continual use
the seating surface degrades over time.

Brazing uses (How To) Similar to soldering, brazing is the process of filling a void (for
plumbing) in a pipe joint with a filler metal to join pieces of pipe or fittings. Brazing filler metals
generally have melting temperatures above 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit. Most brazing filler metals
contain some amount of silver, copper and phosphorus.
Break Tank A type of vessel that holds a supply of water that is to be used for a specific
purpose (mainly heating) other than for consuming or flushing plumbing fixtures. It is filled
through an air gap (to prevent contamination of the domestic water system) and the water
supplying the tank shuts off, when filed to a predetermined height, by an automatic shut off
valve.
Bubbler The word bubbler has a rather interesting back story. Its definition is simple, its
another word to describe a drinking fountain like the ones you see at a park. However, there is
really only one place in the country where it is used with regularity and its in the Badger State of
Wisconsin. Check out this article for more on this strange little regional phenomenon.
Building Drain The lowest point of a drainage system where all of the interior drainage piping
meets and is discharged into the sewer.

Bushing A pipe fitting used to join two pieces of dissimilar sized piping. There are many
different joining methods but the most frequently used is threaded on both ends.
Butterfly Valves The butterfly valve has some similar features to that of the wafer

Nibco Butterfly Valve


check valve. It is very thin and lightweight so space and support are not issues. It is closed using
a wafer or disc that is mounted on a rod that is secured in the middle of the valve. The rod exits
the valve at the top and ends with a handle that incrementally controls the internal disc.
In the open position the disc is parallel to the pipe in the closed position the disc is perpendicular
to the pipe closing off flow.
These types of valves can be used to control flow and are especially affective in tight spots. Most
times the handles are spring loaded and allow you to lock the valve into a certain position.
CAD (Computer Aided Design) A method of designing building mechanical systems using a
well known computer software. Prior to CAD, engineers and architects had to design and layout
all of the different piping trades by hand and with the aid of the subcontractors shop drawings.
Now most of its done via computer. There are still changes in the field but those changes are
always relayed to the engineer and are updated on the master CAD files.
Cast Iron Pipe and Fittings Plumbing sewer and vent pipe and fittings that are made from
cast iron. It is manufactured in two (2) typeshub and spigot, and no-hub. The hub and spigot
pipe and fittings are manufactured as either service

Cast Iron Waste Fitting


weight or extra heavy. This relates to the wall thickness of the pipe and fittings, the extra heavy
having a thicker wall thickness. The extra heavy pipe and fittings are rarely used today and
availability of various fittings is limited. The hub and spigot type pipe is manufacture in three
(3) lengthsfive (5) and ten (10) foot single hub, five (5) double hub and thirty (30) inch double
hub. Single hub means the pipe has one (1) end that is plain and the other has a hub and double
hub means there are hubs on both ends. The no-hub pipe and fittings are manufactured in service
weight and the pipe only comes in (10) foot lengths.
The hub and spigot pipe and fittings are joined by using either neoprene gaskets or lead and
oakum. The no-hub pipe and fittings are joined by using a stainless steel band with neoprene
gasket that is manufactured specifically for the no-hub pipe.
Ceramic Discs similar to brass seating material, ceramic is the hardest material you can use in
seating material. One ceramic disc rotates and slides against the other. As the holes or notches in
the discs align the water passes through. Ceramic discs are completely unaffected by water
temperature so the neither expand nor contract, they are not damaged by debris in the water line.

Chair Carrier (Please see Fixture Carrier)

Brass Nibco Check Valve

Check Valves A check valve is a one way valve in that is has one inlet and one outlet that
allows the a liquid to travel in one direction. It is used to halt the flow of the aforementioned
liquid in case of a drop in pressure or reverse in directional flow. The majority of check valves
used in the plumbing industry work automatically meaning when the pressure or direction
changes the valve slams shut.
Circuit Setter -A circuit setter is a balancing type valve used in an HVAC or plumbing system to
regulate pressure in the whole system or within part of the system.
In a plumbing system it is used to regulated pressure between hot and cold water inside the
potable water system. Many years ago a check valve and a ball valve where used, the check
valve would shut down a hot or cold water supply if there was a sudden drop in pressure and the
ball valve with a memory stop was used to regulate flow. This prevented cold or hot water bleed
over if the pressure was increased or decreased in either supply piping.
Circuit Vent A branch vent that serves two or more fixtures with integral traps like a water
closet or fixtures with p-traps installed in a battery (fixtures grouped together). The vent extends
from the top of the horizontal waste branch in front of the last fixture waste to the main vent
stack of a building drainage system.
Cleanout An accessible opening that is placed in a drainage line at a convenient location to
accommodate drain cleaning equipment in the event of a line blockage.

Chrome Cleanout Cover


Cleanout Cover An esthetically pleasing cover (usually chrome plated) that hides a cleanout.
The cleanout cover is usually furnishing with a chrome center screw that threads into the
cleanout plug.
Clevis Hangers A piece of metal bent in the shape of a U that is used to support pipe or
conduit from a structure. The U has holes through both ends through which a rod is inserted
and attached to the rod is a yoke with a hole in it through which a threaded rod is inserted and the
threaded rod is attached to the structure.

Closet Flanges A flanged fitting that is connected to the sanitary drainage system that is used
to bolt a water closet (toilet) to the floor. They are made of different materials, i.e., cast iron,
copper and PVC.
Cock Hole Cover We know its a silly word but it is an actual plumbing term. It is simply this,
a metal cover that is inserted onto an empty hole in your kitchen sink or counter top. They come
in different finishes like chrome, brass, white and stainless steel. Say you replace your old
kitchen sink faucet that has a side spray with an updated model that has a pull out spout. The
faucet with the side spray used a four hole sink. The one with a pull spout uses three holes or
one if you dont use a cover plate, youll have one extra hole. Youll need the ever famous cock
hole cover.
Coffee Station In a commercial tenant space, a place for employees to get coffee, ice, or have
lunch or take a break. Coffee stations typically consist of a kitchen sink, faucet, coffee maker,
and refrigerator. Depending on the municipality the coffee station may require a grease
interceptor and a floor drain. The coffee maker and the refrigerator will require a backflow
preventer.
Cold Chisel A steel hardened tool that is manufactured in various lengths and diameters with a
beveled end that is used for chipping and breaking concrete, cast iron, steel and other hard
material.
Combined or Combination Sewer piping that is designed to carry both rain water with
sewage. This method of evacuating waste water is being phased out around the country in favor
separating the storm sewer from waste.
Composite Material A material used to manufacture counter tops and and sinks. Composite
materials usually have an acrylic base that is colored and different aggregate materials are
introduced to give the surface a unique look and in some instances adds strength. Quartz
composite sinks are a great example of composite material were quartz is added to give it a
unique look and adds strength and resists corroding and chipping.

Compression Fittings A kind of tubing or pipe connection where a nut, and then a sleeve or
ferrule is placed over a copper or plastic tube and is compressed tightly around the tube as the
nut is tightened, forming a positive grip and seal without soldering. Also a flexible connector that

has a nut and gasket designed to attach directly to an SAE standard compression thread, without
the use of a sleeve or ferrule.
Copper Pipe and Fittings Copper pipe and fittings are material used in drainage, waste and
vent pipe as well as potable water piping. Copper is fairly easy to work with, has excellent
thermal conductive properties and it is very durable. Copper comes in a wide variety of pipe
sizes and can handle water, oil and gas.

Core Toilet Rooms A group of centrally located toilet rooms in a commercial, industrial or
institutional building. These toilet rooms are usually designed to accommodate a certain number
of workers or guests per floor or per area of a building. If core toilet rooms are in a multi-level
building they are usually stacked on top of one another using a common wet column.
CPVC (Chlorinated Polyethylene)
Cross Connection Any connection in plumbing that allows potable water to be connected to a
non potable water source. Cross connections can be a potentially serious health hazard. Here is
an example of a cross connection : a good number of utility sink faucets come with a threaded
hose connection at the end of the spout. This is used to attach a hose so a floor or room can be
washed down. If the spout or faucet is not installed with a vacuum breaker and the hose is
dropped into the utility sink filled with water and a cleaning chemical you have a cross
connection.

Dip Tubes Usually a plastic tube that is inserted into the inlet side of a domestic water heater.
The tube forces the incoming water to the bottom of the heater, (closest to the heating elements)
whereby the water is more evenly heated throughout the tank.
Dishwasher Air Gap An apparatus that is usually mounted next to your faucet, either

Dishwasher Air Gap Blow Up


on the counter or in a knockout on the kitchen sink. This device connects from the waste outlet of
the dishwasher to the airgap and from there it connects to a waste opening in the p-trap of the
kitchen sink. It allows waste water to flow into the waste piping however of the waste piping
should ever back up, the waste water will not back up into the dishwasher because of the
aforementioned air gap. Please see our diagram for further clarification.
Double Detector Check Valve The double detector check assembly is installed with one (1)
gate valve on the inlet of the valve and one (1) gate valve on the outlet side of the valve. These
assemblies prevent back flow or back pressure in nonhazardous situations and are most used to
protect the potable water system of a building from the water in a fire prevention system.
A detector check is made with a by-pass assembly and meter to detect any unauthorized or illegal
taps, test cocks are also present so that required yearly testing can take place. Each check valve
can be isolated and tested independently to see if they are leaking and operating properly.
Downspout Piping Also known as storm water piping. It is the piping system that handles the
discharge of rain and melted snow water to the city sewers, retention ponds, or ground level
pavement or grassy areas. On the interior of buildings the piping material is usually made of cast
iron, copper or PVC. When it is installed on the exterior of the building the piping material is
usually sheet metal like the downspouts on a private residence.
Drain Piping Pitch (Slope) In plumbing the grade at which the drain piping is installed to
assure that the waste water flows at a speed that allows the piping to be self scouring. Meaning
the turbulence and movement of the water cleans the inside of the pipe. 1/4 per foot is a
common pitch for plumbing. We like to say a lazy sewer is a good sewer, if the water is moving

too fast it may move past the suspended solids leaving them behind. If enough waste is left
behind you have the potential for a build up and an eventual blockage.

Drain Tile System A system of pipe usually made of corrugated plastic, PVC or clay tile that
collects subsoil drainage and allows it to dump into a sewer or water retention area. Drain tile is
usually perforated to allow water to seep into the pipe and it is widely used under basement
floors or under concrete footings, this keeps water from getting into basements or washing out
backfilled soil. Drain tile is also used in athletic fields, farm fields and in any situations where
water needs to be removed quickly.

Drainage Fittings (Cast Iron) This a true plumbing professional term. Obviously all
Drainage, Waste and Vent (DWV) are types of fittings used for drainage however cast iron
drainage fittings are threaded fittings that are specifically used for drainage piping. These fittings
are a dying breed and are only used in certain areas or in repair situations. These fittings are
made with pitch built in to assure proper flow. Anvil Corp is one of the last companies to
continue making CI drainage fittings. You can find them
here.http://www.anvilintl.com/ProductSearch/ProductThumbnailView.aspx?plid=115&ptid=648

Kohler Devonshire Drop In Bathtub


Drop in Bath Tub A bathtub that is built with an integral lip or ledge that is meant to fit into or
be dropped-into a pre-framed area that is to receive the bathtub.

Drop-in Anchor These are anchors that are inserted into a pre-drilled hole in concrete. The
anchor has a metal cam inside that when hit or set flares the bottom out to secure it in the
concrete. Drop-in anchors are threaded on the inside to accept all thread rod or bolts and they are

commonly used in conjunction with a clevis hanger to hang piping from the underside of a deck.

Drum Traps Very rarely used, a drum trap is a circular metal canister with the inlet

Drum Trap
near the bottom of the trap and the waste outlet is at the top with a removable cover. Ideally the
drum trap is installed in a place with easy access so you can remove the cover to clean.
Unfortunately many drum traps weve encountered are buried behind a wall or the cover is
unable to be removed, fused together by time. So when drum trap stop they are extremely
difficult to clear by rodding because of their inlet and outlet configuration. Drum traps were
installed so people could find jewelry or valuables if lost down the drain. The trap would catch
the ring or earring by sinking to the bottom, the likely hood that a valuable would flow into the
waste opening at the top of the trap is highly unlikely.
Duplex Pumps (Ejector or House Pumps) This is simply a pumping system that uses two
pumps instead of one. These pumps are usually equipped with an alternator that alternates
pumping cycles to minimize wear on one particular pump. The alternator can be set to alternate
the pumps in a variety of ways i.e. every other cycle, every ten cycles or it can be set by usage
parameters if equipped with the right controls.

Ejector Pits A round, square or rectangular pit (collection vessel) that can be made from cast
iron, steel, PVC, fiberglass, concrete or clay tile. They are used in applications where the
sanitary waste that flows into them is lower that the main sewer and by mean of an ejector
pump(s) the waste is pumped up and out to the main sewer. They must always have a gas tight
cover and be properly vented.

Ejector Pumps A device manufactured to elevate water, sewage (suspended solids) or liquid
waste from a lower level to a point of discharge where it can be drained away by gravity into a
sewer or drain.

Classic Chicago Faucet Elevated Vacuum Breaker


Elevated Vacuum Breaker A vacuum breaker that is elevated off the floor at 7ft-6. There is a
very good reason it is elevated at 7ft-6 it is above the average height of a man with his arms
stretched over his head. Huh? Yep, the reason for this is a person cannot take a hose and stretch
to place it above the vacuum breaker rendering the vacuum breaker useless. I know how about
we just step on a chair? Whateverthats the reason for 7ft-6. Elevated vacuum breakers are
slowly dying.

Epoxy Pipe Lining Epoxy lining of plumbing pipes is used when the cost of digging and or
tearing walls and ceilings apart proves to be too cost prohibitive. There are several different
types of epoxy pipe lining and they are used based on application type.
Air Inversion Air inversion pipe lining is used in waste, vent, storm and water main to repair
broken piping due to ground settling, pipe deterioration, tree roots etc. It is most commonly used
in pipe sizing from 4 to 48 in diameter. The piping is prepared by video camera inspection,
then <the pipe is cleaned and scoured. The pipe is then lined using an air inversion machine.
Think of tube sock with epoxy lining on the inside. It is glued on one end and air pressure pushes
the sock through the pipe turning it inside out thereby placing the epoxy inside the piping. Please
check out this Youtube video that shows you in detail how the process works.
Pipe Bursting The pipe bursting method is used in underground piping i.e. concrete or clay tile
where the piping is too deteriorated to repair by other methods. A very strong cable is pulled
through deteriorated piping and attached to a conical pipe bursting head, attached behind the

head is the new piping. As the pipe bursting head is pulled through the old piping it is being
broken up and the new piping is being pulled through the old pipe bed.
Epoxy Pipe Restoration This method is used mostly in water piping and it is most effective in
pipe sizes from 1/2 through 4. Although some companies have different techniques most have
these steps that are common for all. Drain down of water piping being restored, heated and
compressed are introduced to the piping to dry pipe thoroughly. A sand slurry mixture is blown
into the pipe to scour the inside of the pipe walls, knocking off any scale or oxidation. Finally the
epoxy coating is blown in coating the inside of the pipe. Check out the video of CuraFlo
explaining the process.

Expansion Tank A tank usually installed on a closed hot water line used to absorb excess
pressure due to thermal expansion. Because

These are code just about everywhere.


water expands when heated, the water needs a place to expand to hence the expansion tank.

Express Riser A domestic water riser is used to distribute potable water to floor levels that
require potable water to function in both commercial or residential applications. For a high rise
building maintaining water pressure suitable to proper fixture function is critical. An express
riser is a water riser thats sole purpose is to bypass lower floors and service upper floors so
adequate water pressure is maintained.

Extension Tailpiece A length of tubular brass or PVC piping used to extend the waste on a
kitchen, lavatory or service sink. Connections or usually Slip Joint or threaded.

Extra Heavy Soil Pipe Cast iron soil has been used for drainage, waste and vent piping for
hundreds of years. Extra heavy soil pipe is specified for extreme conditions and has a very high
crush strength. Its popularity has declined sharply over the last 30 years. It was not uncommon
to see extra heavy soil pipe used in schools, hospitals and prisons.

Faucet Types A faucet is any device that controls the flow of water. The most common types
of faucets used in plumbing are kitchen, lavatory, bar, service sink, hose bibbs, shower valve, tub
filler and yard hydrants.

Federal Plumbing Code (Please see National Plumbing Code, BOCA, & IAPMO Uniform
Plumbing Code)

Fill Valve Most commonly referred to as a Ball Cock, the fill valve controls water to the tank
of a tank type toilet. The fill valves is operated by means of a float. Most fill valves also have an
anti siphon device or vacuum breaker to ensure there is no cross contamination from the water
in the tank to the potable water supply.

Fixture Carriers A device that is installed behind a finished wall and anchored to the floor to
mount and off the floor plumbing fixtures i.e., lavatories, wall hung toilets, urinals and slop
sinks. It is most commonly used in commercial and institutional applications due to increases
wear and tear.

Fixture Units (Drainage) The quantity of load producing effects a plumbing fixture has on a
plumbing drainage system. The number is based on the probable discharge of waste water into
the plumbing drainage system by different fixtures for a single operation and on the average time
between operations. The rate of discharge through a plumbing fixture of 7.5 GPM is termed one
fixture unit.

Fixture Units (Supply) The measure of how much water a plumbing fixture needs for proper
function. The plumbing valve used by a particular fixture and its function is based on the volume
of water it uses on a single occasion and on the average time between operations.

Floor Cleanouts A readily accessible opening installed in the floor off of a horizontal waste
line to accommodate drain cleaning equipment to remove potential blockages.

Floor Drains An opening in the floor used to drain potential liquid waste from the floors into
the drainage system. Floor drains are most commonly seen in basements, core toilet rooms,
janitors closets and mechanical rooms.

Floor Sinks A receptor installed in a floor that receives drainage from indirect waste lines.
Floor sinks are often glazed with porcelain or epoxy to inhibit bacterial growth and to make it
easier to clean and maintain.

Flushometer Valve There are several different type of flushometer valves on the market the
diaphragm type valve invented by William Sloan and the Sloan Valve Company in 1906 is the
undisputed leader in Flush valve production and market use. However all flushometers are
designed to do the same thing and that is to deliver a measured amount of water to a fixture to
flush out waste, i.e. a water closet or urinal. Both a diaphragm and a piston type flush valve
operate by using water pressure to actuate the valve.

Flux (Plumbing) Plumbers flux comes in the form of paste and it is brushed on copper or brass
pipe and fittings to remove oxides and other coatings for the metals before joining. Oxides make
soldering difficult. Upon heating the pipe/fittings and flux, the flux will clean and float away any
oxides or particulates.

Friction (Water Piping) It is the resistance between to objects in contact with one another. In
a water piping system it is the friction that occurs between water and the walls of the piping.
Water that comes in contact with the walls of the pipe actually moves slower than water in the
center of the piping. We call that friction loss in the piping trades.

The Riser Clamp is one of the most used pipe hangers in construction.
Friction Clamps/Riser Clamps A friction or riser clamp is used in the plumbing and
mechanical trades to support vertical piping at each floor. The hanger device is place around the
piping and tightened with bolts which prevents the piping from slipping. Riser clamps have
wings or ears that extend out from the pipe to span the opening in the floor to accommodate the
piping being braced.

Frost Proof Hose Bibbs or Sillcocks A faucet that delivers water to locations (usually outside)
for watering landscaping or grass, washing vehicles or general cleaning. When the hose bibb is
designated as Frost Proof it is usually has an apparatus which allows ice to expand without
damaging the unit or connected supply piping.

Futures (Vent, water and waste) Futures in plumbing are fittings and or piping installed and
capped to accommodate future plumbing expansions. i.e. an office building is being built and
the owner is taking the entire space. However, at some point the owner may want to divide the
building to accommodate possible tenants or expansion of existing office space. Futures would
minimize the contruction to rehab, expand or reconfigure the existing plumbing systems.

Garabage Disposals An electrically powered plumbing appliance installed on the outlet of a


kitchen sink that is used to grind up leftover organic waste so it is easily rinsed away by LOTS
OF WATER. Garbage disposal are manufactured in several different price points which include
better build quality, sound deadening materials and features. Commercial versions are also
available.

Gas Piping The piping used to deliver propane or natural gas to a home and its gas powered
appliances in the home i.e. stove, oven, and clothes dryer.

Gate Valves The gate valve is typically operated by a wheel handle and that handle lifts and
lowers a metal disc or wedge cutting off or opening the flow of water. A gate valve should not be

used to throttle or regulate the flow of water. Gate valves are usually described as rising stem
sometimes called an OS&Y (Outside Screw and Yoke) or non-rising stem.
OS&Y valves are used in situations were it is beneficial and sometimes safer to be able to see if
the valve is in the open or closed position by seeing whether the stem is visible or fully seated.

Nibco OS&Y Valve

Nicbo Non Rising Stem Gate Valve


General Liability Insurance (GL Insurance) A standard insurance policy issued to
businesses but in this case plumbing and mechanical businesses to protect against liability claims
generating from the operations the business performs this includes employee negligence. This is
usually coupled with Workers Compensation Insurance to form a firms commercial insurance
package.

G.P.M. (Gallons Per Minute) A unit of measurement used by plumbing material


manufacturers to convey performance or measure capacities of a fixture, water piping and or
waste piping.

Gravity Sewers All sewers work by by gravity. However this term is used by plumbers to
describe a house drain which runs under the basement floor and receives the discharge from soil,

waste and other drainage from pipes within the building. It is almost always used to describe a
sewer when a home is affected by sewage backing up from the city sewer during extreme rain
fall. The solution to a gravity sewer would be to run the sewer over head. (See Over Head
Sewers)

Gray Water is defined as water generated by sinks, showers, bathtubs and clothes washers. It
does not contain waste water from water closets, urinals, kitchen sinks or waste from
dishwashers.

Gray Water Waste Pipe System Is the piping and storage system that collects waste water
generated from hand sinks, showers, bathtubs and clothes washers. Because over 60% of all
household water usage can be labelled as gray water systems have been developed to recycle this
water and reuse. Graywater piping is purple in color so it will standout amongst other piping
systems.

There are three separate steps in the graywater recycling process and they are as follows:
1. Collection Graywater and black water wastes systems are piped
separately. The graywater is harvested is storage tanks.
2. Treatment Depending on the use the waste water is filtered. There are a
multitude of ways to implement the filtration process but the most common is
using physical media.
3. Disinfection The filtered graywater is disinfected using UV, chlorination or
iodine or a combination of the aforementioned.

Grease Traps or Grease Separator A device designed to cause separation and retention of oil
and/or grease from liquid wastes. Grease separators are most commonly used in commercial
kitchens, restaurants or apartment buildings. Periodic grease removal maintenance needs to be
done in order to maintain performance levels.

Green Plumbing Is any type of plumbing that promotes conservation of water and or
electricity.

Gray Water

Low Consumption Plumbing Fixtures

Rain Water Harvesting

Solar Hot Water

Tankless or Self Condensing Hotwater.

Waterless Urinals

Hair Separator or Hair Trap these are installed on lavatories or sinks in beauty salons or
barber shops and they catch link or hair from entering the waste piping. They are equipped with a
removable basket that must be cleaned regularly to maintain proper flow. They also have a
secondary purpose as they safeguard against losing jewelry if dropped down the drain.

Hand Held Shower with Slide Bar A shower head that is attached to a flexible hose and can
be moved up or down on a stationary slide bar or removed from a holder and used to rinse the
hair and body. Originally designed as necessary item for the elderly and handicapped it has now
become a premium upgrade in home showers.

Hand or Sink Auger This is a coiled flexible cable that is contained inside a metal cannister
and has a self feeding auger bit to dig through blockages in small diameter piping. The cannister
is usually equipped with a handle and a knob so you can turn the rod cleaning the pipe of
debris. See the full definition here.
Hard Water Hard water is a condition caused by minerals dissolved in water. There are many
minerals that can be dissolved in water but the primary are Calcium and Magnesium. 85% of the
water in the U.S is considered hard water. Some of the symptoms a homeowner will experience

if they have hard water will be spots on their dishware, rings around the bathtub, scale build-up
on shower heads and aerators on sink faucets. Hard water also reacts with cleaning products and
detergents reducing its effectiveness. Hard water treatment comes in several forms the most
common is an ion exchange based water softener.

Head Pressure It is the difference in elevation between two points of water expressed in
weight of a given height of a column of water. The pressure at the bottom of the column of water
is greater than at the top of the column and that pressure is independent of the volume of water
present. For instance the head pressure of a column of water that is 15ft high in a 3 pipe is the
same as if the pipe were 3ft in diameter.

Heat Exchanger A heat exchanger is an apparatus such as coiled copper or stainless steel
tubing that is submerged in a tank of water. That coil is used to transfer the heat from the liquid
in the tubing to the water in the tank by way of the metal surface.

Heat Traps On water heaters a heat trap allows cold water to flow into the the heater but
prevents hot water from flow out of the tank when not in use. Having heat traps provides energy
cost savings by preventing heated water from escaping the tank so it doesnt have to be brought
up to temperature again.

Hoar Frost In plumbing it is the frost that forms on vent stacks from water vapor coming in
direct contact with air that is below freezing. The thought is that with continual sub freezing
temperatures that layer upon layer of hoar frost can eventually close off vent stacks
compromising the proper function of the waste system in a home or building.

Hose Bibbs or Sillcocks A faucet that delivers water to locations (usually outside) for watering
landscaping or grass, washing vehicles or general cleaning. (See also Frost Proof Hose Bibb)

Hot Tap The process of tapping into water main or water supply line while the line is still
active and in use. The process was developed to minimize down time to other homeowners or
building tenants during maintenance, rehab or new construction. The alternative to hot tapping or

pressure tapping would be to shut down and drain down the affected section of piping so the
work could be completed.

Hot Water Return Piping Hot water return piping is piping connecting the end of a run of
plumbing fixtures and/or appliances back to a hot water source i.e. a water heater or boiler. Most
times a hot water return line is installed with a recirculating pump to insure hot water is always
recirculating through the hot water supply piping. Keeping hot water recirculating through the
line dramatically cuts down on the time it takes to get hot water to a fixture. The average family
wastes 12,000 gallons per year waiting for hot water.

House Drain The House Drain is the lowest part of the drainage system piping that receives all
of the soil and waste discharge from other drainage piping within a home or building and
discharges it to the house sewer that begins 5ft outside of the building.

House Pumps (Domestic Water Booster Pumps) Variable Frequency or constant speed. Uses in
commercial and residential. Most plumbing fixtures and equipment need a minimum amount of
water pressure to function properly, a house pump or booster pump takes incoming water and
increases the pressure to accommodate the water demands of a private residence or a commercial
building.

House Sewer The part of the horizontal piping of a plumbing or drainage system that extends
from the house drain to its connection with the main sewer or other place of sewage disposal. So
the piping that connects the interior sewer to its connection to the municipal sewer.

House Trap Although there are many homes that still have a house trap in use they are
generally frowned upon. A house trap is a trap installed on the house drain to prevent sewer gases
and vermin from entering a residence or commercial building. The biggest issues with house
traps are that if the trap is ever compromised the entire building is susceptible to sewer gases.
Hub and Spigot Soil Pipe Hub and spigot soil pipe is usually made of cast iron and is used in
sanitary drain, waste and vent, sewer and storm drainage applications. The pipe and fittings have
a bell on one end and are plain on the other. The plain end is inserted into the bell or spigot end

and the joint is sealed using a rubber soil gasket or braided oakum and lead.

Hydraulic Pressure The pressure applied by a liquid against an object. Most liquids cannot be
compressed into a small area like air can. Therefore when a liquid is applying pressure to an
object the liquid will find its way around the object or if need be through the object.
IAPMO Plumbing Code ( The International Association of Plumbing and Mechnical
Offiicials) or UPC (Universal Plumbing Code) This is the most update and accurate set of
current plumbing practices, it is produced by plumbers and mechanical engineers. It includes
installations for potable water, building water supply and distribution, waste drainage and vent
piping, sewer mains and plumbing fixtures. It also defines material and code approved joining
methods.

Ice Maker A plumbing appurtenance that can be stand alone or part of a refrigerator and is
used to make ice for beverages or for therapeutic uses. An ice maker needs both a water
connection and a waste connection for the discharge of condensate waste.

Indirect Waste Pipe Waste piping from a plumbing fixture or appurtenance that isnt
connected directly to the waste drainage system of a home or building but instead it drains into
the drainage system through an air gap and into a fixture, interceptor or receptacle like a floor
sink which is properly trapped and vented.
Instantaneous Water Heaters An instantaneous water can be broken down into the following
two categories.

1.) Point of Use A point of use water heater is installed at or near a plumbing fixture or battery
of fixtures and it used to service those fixtures alone. Their capacity to flash heat water is limited.
They are mainly used in situations where it is too difficult to tie into and existing hot water
source or a small bathroom or sink has been added and has a limited need for hot water.
2.) Tankless Water Heaters Both of these heaters are tankless however, when someone refers
to a tankless water heater they usually mean a high capacity heater used to serve multiple
locations in a home or business.

A tankless heater flash heats water on demand by pulling water through a heat exchanger. There
is no hot water storage although one can be added if the application calls for additional capacity.
Tankless heaters are generally thought of to be much more efficient than traditional tank type
water heaters. However, real world use has clouded that belief.
International Plumbing Code or IPC The International Plumbing Code was first adopted in
1995 and it was really a combined effort as representatives from BOCA, ICBO and the SBCCI
were all used to produce an all inclusive set of rules and regulations based on existing model
codes.
The IPC was established to set standards to adequately protect the public health and safety but
not necessarily increase the cost of building and fabrication.

There are several states and municipalities that have adopted the IPC as their plumbing code. The
IPC can be adopted internationally.
Invert The lowest point of the inside of any type of horizontal waste, vent or water piping.
Invert Elevation Closely associated with the above, the invert elevation is really the
cornerstone elevation for the mechanical and in particular the plumbing trade. It is the lowest
inside point of any pipe at a certain location. Knowing invert elevations are extremely important
for laying out waste piping runs. Mistakes can cause mistakes ranging from sewer piping not
having enough pitch to waste piping being removed because it is above the ground or hanging
below a drop ceiling.
Iron Filter Tank Any device that removes disolved or undissolved iron from potable drinking
water. Some smaller units can be installed in line with your water main and need to be
maintained by changing a removable media. There are also iron filters that can handle removing
iron for the whole house using media that can be recharged relieving the homeowner of having to
change the filter once a month. See Charger Water Treatment for their solutions on treating
potable drinking water.
Island Vent (See Loop Vent)

Isolation Valves Any type of valve installed on the potable water system that isolates a section
of a building, a battery of bathrooms or plumbing mechnical equipment i.e. a house pump.
Isolation valves allow plumbers positively shut down the water supply to the aforementioned so
work can be performed without shutting down the water supply to the entire building.

J-Hooks J type hooks are used in just about every industry. In the plumbing industry they are
made of plastic, steel or copper plated and come in different sizes to accommodate different
sized pipe. They look like the letter J and are usually nailed or screwed into a wooden or steel
joist to hang waster, vent and water piping.

Kitchen Sink Faucet with a Pull-Out Spray Kitchen sink faucets are manufactured with or
without a spray mechanism. In the last 20 years most of the faucet manufacturers have come out
with kitchen faucets with a sprayer that pulls out from the spout. The spray head will have a
function button that when depressed will switch the function between hard spray or aerated flow.
Since their inception they have become extremely popular due to the fact that you dont have to
have a side spray taking up space on the faucet deck to have the same functionality.

Lavatories See plumbing fixtures


Lead A soft and extremely heavy metal was used in almost every aspect of the plumbing
industry at one time or another. Most major cities in the US used water services made of lead
piping because of its durability and malleability. Using lead for piping went out of favor in the
80s due to fear of lead leeching. Until very recently lead was being used in trace amount for
faucets, flush valves, hose bibbs etc., however stricter laws have made using lead illegal. There is
one area where lead is used and its only in certain places around the country and that is for
yarning and pouring joints on cast iron waste piping.

Lead Flashings thin sheets of lead used to water proof vent stacks through the roof. A tube of
lead is made slightly larger in diamter than the piping being flashed, that tube is welded on to flat
piece of lead. The lead flashing is installed over the vent through roof increaser and the end of
the lead is pounded down inside the piping. The roofing material is placed over the flashing and

around the pipe and is sealed. Vent flashings are also made of rubber membrane.

Lead Pan Lead pans have been used in plumbing for a number of reasons. As a durable
malleable material to use to water proof a shower or mop basin where stone or tile is being used
as flooring, as a drain pan used to catch water from a water heater should it start to leak. You
being with a flat piece of sheet lead

Lead Pick This a tool that looks like an awl, with a metal tip bent at a 90 angle or like a hook,
that is used while drilling out an old lead joint, to pick out the loose lead and oakum.
Lead Pot and Ladel Used primarily to pour lead and oakum joints for waste and vent piping.
A lead pot is made of cast iron and lots similar to a cooking pot. It is made to sit securely on top
of furnace that attaches to plumbers propane tank. Lead is placed inside the lead pot and is
heated until melted. A cast iron ladel is used to extact the molten lead from the pot so it can be
poured into a hub. Molten lead does not stick to cast so it can be poured easily.

Lead Water Services Lead was the material of choice for water services in all major
municipalities until the end of the 1960s. Because lead is malleable and utterly non-corrosive it
was a go to for plumbers for the better part of a century. It wasnt until we became aware of the
harmful effects of lead poisoning that lead services were discontinued. The funny things about
lead water services is that a hard scale barrier forms over the piping exposed to potable water so
quickly that there is no measurable leeching however I suppose its better to be safe than sorry.

Liquid Waste Any liquid discharge from a plumbing fixture that does not contain human or
animal waste matter.
Loop Vent Some times this is referred to as an island vent because if you do vent your island
youd use a loop vent. A island loop vent begins at the discharge from island sink using a sanitary
tee. The vent rises up above the discharge of the drain then drops back down and connects back
to the drainage system below the floor. A loop vent in a commercial application has a different
meaning; it is a single vent pipe connected to the horizontal drainage piping that receives the
discharge from one or more unvented fixtures. The single vent pipe rises above the overflow

level of the highest unvented fixture and the single vent is connected back to the vent stack.
Basically this is a way to vent a battery of fixtures using a single vent pipe.
Main Pipe The central pipe line to which all other branches are connected. This covers all
plumbing piping systems i.e. waste, vent and water piping.
Man Hole A circular cover usually manufactured from cast iron that is part of a larger concrete
structure used for easy excess to any number of below grade plumbing equipment. i.e. below
ground valves, ejector or grinder pumps. A manhole can also be used as an access point for
rodding and drain cleaning equipment on storm and sewer lines.
Mechanical Joints definition, materials used, types of mechanical joints. Any type of pipe and
fitting joining method that ensures a water tight seal using the following: gaskets, couplings,
grooved fittings and couplings, nuts and bolts, etc. The following are examples of mechanical
joints:

No-Hub Couplings

Mission Couplings

Victaulic Grooved Fittings and Couplings

Gruvlok Grooved Fittings and Couplings

Flanged Fittings using nuts, bolts and gasket kits.

Mechanics Lien A form of legal protection afforded to contractors and suppliers obtained as
collateral against unpaid bills. When enforced any real estate or property such as a home or
commercial building can be sold to pay off past due bills. As a mechanical contractor you should
always protect your lien rights. The time for filing an Intent to Lien is different from state to state
but usually you have 90 days from the performance of work to file an Intent to Lien. Once that
time passes you will be forced to litigate but your lien rights will expire.
Mini-Widespread Faucet A style of lavatory faucet that has a separate spout and handles but
fits on a lavatory with a 4 spread and opposed to a widespread faucet which fits on a lavatory
with an 8 spread.

Mixing Valve A plumbing valve that mixes hot and cold water and delivers them at a specific
temperature.
Molded Stone Molded stone is most commonly used for laundry tubs and it is really used to
describe a fiberglass product impregnated with a calcium resin. Its extremely durable while
being low cost. Consumers may think the term molded stone is misleading however its a term
that has been used in the plumbing industry for decades.

Mop Basins See plumbing fixtures


National Plumbing Code This is a standard code book for the plumbing industry that covers
BOCA (Building Officials and Code Administrator International) and UBC codes highlighting
specifications and best practices and procedures for installation and standard plumbing materials
Nipples -A short piece of pipe threaded on both ends used to join two threaded fittings.

No Hub Soil Pipe A type of pipe normally made of cast iron, without hubs, joined with no hub
couplings
Oakum
Open Site Drain
Over Head Sewers
Overflow roof drains See PlumbingMechanical Equipment
PCA
Pex Plastic Water Piping and Fittings
PHCC Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors Association
Pipe Condensation
Pipe Insulation

Pipe Labeling
Plumbing Council of Chicagoland
Plumbing Fixtures Gosh its tough for us to define this term because its so outdated. Well
give it a shot, its a device, appliance or appurtenance that is hooked up or installed to the
potable water system which makes the potable water available to flush liquids or liquid born
wastes either directly or indirectly into the waste system.
Plumbing Mechanical Equipment
Some may disagree with how some of these are defined but for this site each of the following
will be referred to as plumbing mechanical equipment.
Coffee Makers
Define boilers, types, uses
Define Water Heaters, types, uses.
Plumbing Valve is any valve used to regulate the flow of water in a potable or human waste
water system.
Point of Use Water Heaters
Power Jetter
Power Rodder Type, Uses
Pressure Assisted Toilets
Priming a P-trap
P-Traps
PVC Plastic Pipe and Fittings
PVD Finishes
Private Sewer Any sewer that serves one or more buildings that is privately owned and is not
directly controlled or maintained by a public entity.

Public Sewer Any common sewer controlled and maintained by a city, county, state or federal
government.
Radiant Heat
Rate of Flow This is a term used to describe the volume of moving water as it related to a time
period. The most common measurement used in plumbing is gallons per minute (GPM) or
gallons per hour (GPH).
Re-circulating Pump
Repair Flanges
Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration
Roll Groove
Roman Tub Filler
Roof Drain a roof drain is a plumbing appurtenance installed on a building roof, inside a gutter
or in a parapet wall to receive rain water. The water is routed to the building or structures
downspout piping and discharged to a storm sewer or is allowed to splash on the ground. Please
check your local plumbing codes to find out acceptable methods for the discharge of rain water.
Rough-in
RPZ (Reduced Pressure Zone)
Sand and Sediment Separators
Syphonic roof drains
Sanitary Sewer A house drain or a house sewer designed and used to remove only sewage.
Storm water need not apply. Believe it or not there are places around the country that separate the
storm and sewage systems in a building only to let them combine outside the building to a
combined sewer.

Septic Tank A tank designed to receive raw sewage. Through aerobic and anaerobic bacterial
action and sedimentation the sewage is allowed to break down. After a period of detention the
remaining liquid is allowed to discharge into the soil.
Sewage A combination of water carried wastes from a residence, business buildings,
institutional and industrial buildings together with ground surface and storm water.

Sewer Camera and Locator


Shower Head
Slip Joint
Sloan Flush Mate
Sludge
Soaker Tub
Soft Water
Soil Pipe Any piping which transports the discharges of one of more water closets or bedpan
washers with or without the discharge from other fixtures to the house drain.

Solder
Solder Joints types, uses (How To)
Spanner Flanges
Stand Pipe
Steam Generators
Steel Pipe and Fittings
Storm Piping

S-Traps
Sub-Soil Drain The part of the drainage system which transports subsoil ground or
seepage water to the house drain or house sewer. (Most times its called drain tile.)

Suds Zone
Sump Check Valves
Sump Pits
Sump Pumps
Sump Silent Check Valves
Suspended Solids The solid waste material held afloat or suspended in the transport medium
in this case its water.
Sustaining Hinge Check
Syphonic roof drains
T&P Valves A relief valve used on tanks or vessels that is activated by too much
temperature(T) or too much pressure (P)
Tempering Valves A valve used to control temperature to a constant temperature. These valves
are mechanical in nature meaning a temperature can be set with a set and locked in and wont
allow any more hot water through the valve. Hot and cold water flow is controlled by the internal
ports.
Thermal Expansion The expansion of water or material from heat

Thermostatic Mixing Valves A pressure balanced valve used to control temperature of water

based on both the hot and cold water

supply temperatures and changes in water

pressure. A valve that is pressure balanced only operates on just that.pressure


Toilets A plumbing fixture designed to receive human excrement from the user of the fixture to
the sanitary sewer system.
Trap A device for a plumbing drain, sewer, etc. consisting of a tubular bend in which a liquid
settles a forms a seal preventing sewer gasses, vermin, stench from coming back into a building.
Trap Primers A device used to prime a p-trap, preventing the evaporation of water form the
trap
Trap Weir The highest point of water held in a trap (either p-trap or s-trap) before it leaves the
trap and drains
Trapeze Pipe Hanger
Two Hole Pipe Straps
Unistrut
United Association (UA)
Urinals A plumbing fixture that is flushed by potable water that is designed to receive human
urine, the discharge is disposed into the sanitary system.
UV Purification
Vacuum Breakers
Velocity The rate of speed at which water moves through piping. It is measured in feet per
second.

Valve Tags
Vent Increaser Why theyre used. Controversy on their usefulness
Vent Piping
Vent Stack
Vibration Isolation
Vitreous China
Wafer Check Valve A wafer style check valve is obviously a check valve that is used when
space constraints wont allow traditional check valves to be used. Some of the other benefits of
using a wafer check is weight, this style of check doesnt need as much support as its traditional
full body counterpart.
A wafer valve is made using a thin disc that can be fastened in the center or the top or can be
spring loaded in the center.
This valve is meant to placed between two flanged fittings and secured between the two fittings
with all thread rod. The valve is notched in the same positions as the bolt pattern of the flanges
so the rod can pass by the valve. The valve is secured at both ends by the flanges.