In most cases, the home mechanic will be concerned with the repair and maintenance of the present plumbing system in his home, rather than with new installations. In the first place, the tools required to cut and fit pipes together are expensive and so limited in their use that it would not be worthwhile to buy a complete set for the few tasks in the home.
Secondly, most communities have building codes which specify that plumbing installation in homes, or in other buildings, must be done by licensed plumbers. You may, however, be able to do certain jobs.
If you want to do a small job, such as running a cold water line to the garage or placing hydrants about the lawn and garden, you should first consult the building authorities in your community and obtain permission, provided such permission is required. After this, you may be able to borrow or rent the necessary tools to do the work.
Running a cold line to a garage is not difficult, once you have the necessary tools, fittings, and a basic understanding of the plumbing system.
The plumbing system in the average home is a rather complicated arrangement of pipes and valves that often causes the homeowner great trouble. In general terms, the plumbing system may be divided into three separate systems. First, there is the cold water system, composed of the pipes necessary to bring fresh water from the well or water main and deliver it to the various fixtures.
Second, there is the hot water system, consisting of a means of heating the water, a tank in which to store it after it has been heated, and the pipes to convey it to the fixtures. The third branch of the plumbing is the sewage, or drainage system, and this must remove all waste water from the house fixtures quickly and efficiently.
Learning the plumbing system
Each member of the household should have some understanding of the plumbing system and know the location of the main shut-off valve and the various branch valves. Should a leak occur in any part of the system, anyone in the house can shut off the branch in which the leak occurs from the water supply. In the case of a leaking pipe, the minutes wasted in trying to locate the shut-off valve may mean the difference between slight or extensive damage to decorations, flooring, and furniture.
All shut-off valves should be tagged to indicate clearly what part of the system each valve controls. This will also save a plumber much time, as he will not have to trace out the entire system before working on it.
To determine what branch of the system a particular valve controls, close the valve and open the faucets throughout the house. List all faucets that are dry when the valve is turned off as part of that branch of the plumbing. The main shut-off valve, controlling the water supply for the entire house, is generally located in the basement.
Keep it clear —not covered with coal or other matter. If the basement is finished with wallboard or other material, indicate the position of the valve clearly and make it easily accessible. This may necessitate cutting out a small square of the wallboard and nailing it back into place with a few short nails that can be quickly pulled out by hand.
Many failures in the sewage system are due to the fact that the system is forced to carry away not only liquids and water soluble waste but all types of rubbish as well. Caution every member of your family against throwing solid matter of any kind into flush toilets or down sink and fixture drains.
A sewage system that is properly installed can dispose of liquid matter, but it cannot cope with such items as dishcloths, metal bottle tops, and similar objects. Cleaning out a sewer pipe is expensive and messy, and the blockage is usually due to carelessness on someone's part.