Monday, September 21, 2015

Bring Your Plumbing Up-to-Date with Best Practices

A famous quote from L.P Hartley's book, 'The Go-Between,' states, "The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there." This could be a true reflection of the plumbing installed in your home, especially if you've an older house with a plumbing system installed before today’s best plumbing practices became the norm. Take, for example, the pipework running under your floorboards; that could be a significant bad practice, unbeknownst to you, weakening the structure of your house.

With central heating systems in the 1970s, plumbers often put pipes under the floorboards and used a technique called 'notching' (i.e. cutting a groove in the joists) to allow pipes to run across them. If done with care, the joists shouldn't have been weakened but this often wasn't the case, leading to weaker joists.

Floor joists are subject to considerable loading. The safest place to penetrate them is right through the centre, known as the neutral axis. Even so, drilling shouldn't be done at either the mid-point or too close to the supporting ends, but in a carefully calculated zone. Good plumbers know this and use right-angle chuck attachments on their drills to ensure that the holes go perpendicularly through the joists. New plastic plumbing pipes are an advantage, as they can run through the centres of the joists easily.

Where rigid copper pipes run perpendicular to joists, notching is often unavoidable but their position must be carefully calculated and constructed using the right technique. Best plumbing practices do this, so check with your plumber on the next visit to see the legacy you've inherited under your floor!

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