Down Hill

By
Home Inspector with JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC HOI 394

Sink drain!??

We’ve all heard the saying, crap flows down hill. A simple principal related to gravity and the known tendency of water to flow from a high point to a lower point. That is how the drains in our homes operate; by gravity. When gravity is against us, a pump is installed. Yes you can also push crap up hill.

While gravity is reliable as rain, unless you live in California, drains are not. Or perhaps I should say people. Drains are reliable, as long as people install them correctly and more importantly use them properly. Since we humans tend to be, well human, screw ups are bound to happen. Therefore, drains are constructed with ways to fix these occasional mistakes.

Diagram of Waste Clean Out LocationsWith domestic waste drains, clogs are the problem. I’m sure a stopped up sink has happened to most everyone at one time. Or worse a clogged toilet. By far the nastiest of all is a clogged main where the entire house system is plugged. Nothing can be drained off from any fixture. The plumbers solution is not extra strength Draino, but to use a snake inserted into the clogged pipe through a clean out. A clean out is simply an access into a drain pipe in the domestic waste drain system. Building codes state the locations where clean outs should be installed. 

Domestic waste pipe without clean outThe DIYer or the general contractor are not usually aware of the need for clean outs or where they should be located. Couple that with a lack of permitting, which means no inspections and spotting the work of an uninformed amateur becomes easy. Sometimes even comical.

Take for example this drain from a half bath squeezed into what looked to be a old pantry. No cleanout in sight. And that annoying floor joist that was blocking the installation of the pipe. It was just cut right out of the way.

Where's the drain clean out?Sometimes it seems even the plumber has an off day. Or two. Here we have the main domestic waste pipe where it exits the house through the foundation floor to the street. As far as I could tell, this was original work in a house that is about 25 years old. Not only was a clean out absent here, but I could not find one anywhere in the entire house!

While the pipes in your home may look uncomplicated, there is specific knowledge needed to put them together properly. Water will flow through an incorrectly installed drain, but it can become problematic when the inevitable clog occurs. 

And where will be the "plumber" who installed it be then? 

 

Posted by

James Quarello
Connecticut Home Inspector
Former SNEC-ASHI President
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

 ASHI Certified Inspector

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Ambassador
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TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc.
Complete Home Inspections, Inc. - Brentwood, TN
Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029

 Good morning James. Apparently, there are those plumbers who have not heard this adage before. I'm constantly running into problems with plumbing.

Sep 13, 2014 10:04 PM #1
Rainmaker
1,529,554
Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI
HomeSmart Realty West & Geneva Financial, Llc. - Carlsbad, CA
Presence, Persistence & Perseverance

James: Once again HD & L's weekend contractors were busy with plumbing. I love the application of the street 'T in the last photo. If behind drywall, you would not have caught it, but a slow flushing toilet, or the do-it-yourself- sink trap were classics.

Sep 13, 2014 10:14 PM #2
Rainmaker
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Joe Petrowsky
Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709 - Manchester, CT
Your Mortgage Consultant for Life

Good morning. You are so right about this topic. We have been in our home for many years and continually have problems with one drainpipe that was incorrectly installed, so I really understand you post.

Thank you for commenting on my post.

Sep 13, 2014 10:47 PM #3
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Jim, you need the "Universal" plumber's "no sawzall" symbol :)

Sep 14, 2014 12:39 AM #4
Rainmaker
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Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366
Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366 - Placerville, CA
General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage

You mean that just connecting all the pipes is not enough James? I think that generally people think that if there are no leaks, there is not a plumbing problem.

Sep 14, 2014 02:07 AM #5
Rainer
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Marshall Brown
Mid America Inspection Services, LLC - Fargo, ND
BSEE, CHI

I know there are a lot of good plumbers out there but I still think there should be a law against plumbers coming within 25 feet of a saw of any type.

Sep 14, 2014 11:36 AM #6
Rainmaker
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James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Michael, Apparently not.

Sandy & Norm, Good eye! I was going to mention that, but in the interest of brevity, decided to leave it out of the post.

Joe, I have a poorly installed pipe in my home as well. It just reared its ugly little head recently. Not a pleasant experience. 

Charlie, That should be made into a sticker, put on sheet and given to all home inspectors 

Tom, That seems to be the same logic employed with wiring, if the lights go on, all must be right 

Marshall, Agreed!

Sep 14, 2014 10:19 PM #7
Rainmaker
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Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

How did I miss this? 

I think that first drain was done by a scuba professional who needed a place to put his extra air tube.  That's knocking off two functions with one stone!

Sep 21, 2014 07:14 AM #8
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James Quarello

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