General Plumbing Q and A #2

Q. I have about a 70-foot extension of the gas line that comes through my brick wall and is capped behind the fireplace to a new outbuilding garage I am building. It will not be used until sometime in the future. 1. Can I run a PVC pipe to snake a flexible type gas piping to the building later? What diameter should it be? The line from the back of the fireplace is about 1 inch steel capped pipe. 2. Can I buy the pipe and trench it in from the cap to the garage? If so, what type of pipe can I direct bury or run through conduit? 3. Can I connect it or do I have to call a plumber for this?

A. Lots of your question(s) depend on code in your area. Some areas require a licensed gasfitter to do the work. Another consideration is your insurance company. If there is a problem later, they may refuse to pay if the work had no permits or was done incorrectly. They make plastic gas line. You can also run steel pipe. You will also have to know what size pipe for whatever you are going to use the gas service for. There are different volumes for different uses. If you use a flexible gas line and run a sleeve to run it through, you will probably have to go at least two sizes bigger for the sleeve than what the gas line is. There are lots of code issues with gas, not the same as any other pipe. This includes the pipe dope you use for connections.

Q. I am trying to hook up water lines to a laundry tub faucet. I have been trying to use C-PVC pipe and fittings. But every time, the fittings have leaked around the threads, where they screw on to the faucet. I have used C-PVC pipe and fitting before, with no trouble. But on the others, I have used PTFE tape on the threads. Should I use the tape on these? I thought I had them too loose, so I tightened them. Or would I be better off with copper fittings and pipe, and hooking them into the CPVC with a Quest fitting?

A. Most faucet connections for sinks are straight threads, and pipe threads are tapered. You probably need a supply tube to make the connection. This goes between the shut-off valve and the faucet as done on kitchen and bath sinks. You can get flexible stainless steel hoses that have rubber washers to do this.

Q. When I squeeze the sprayer trigger it sprays, but water still comes out full force from the faucet. What do I need to do to fix this?

A. You need to replace "the diverter." What type of faucet you have will determine how you attack the faucet to get to the diverter. The diverter is found, usually, just where the spout meets the faucet valve body. How the spout comes off varies with the make of the faucet and if it is a single handle or double handle fixture.

Q. The PVC pipe is sticking out of the basement floor where the toilet will be installed. I'm putting porcelain tile on the floor. Do I screw the flange directly to the cement floor and then tile around it, or should I tile around the PVC pipe and install the flange on top of the tile? Which will give me the best seal with the toilet?

Side note: when I remove the plastic cover from the PVC pipe, little black flies come out. I dread to think what they are living on and what else is down there. Anything I can do to get rid of them before it's time to permanently remove the cover for the toilet installation? I assume that taking a can of WD40 and a match (to make a flame-thrower) is a bad idea.

A. The closet flange should be sitting on the surface of the finished floor. Drill through the tile and the concrete using a masonry bit. Use "TAPCON" screws to attach the closet flange to the floor. The wax ring on top of the flange will make the seal, not the flange itself.

The flies are living in the sewer pipe because there is no water to keep them flushed out. They are a nuisance but harmless. While working, stuff a few large rags into the pipe; tie them together with a coat hanger so you know you have them all at removal time. You don't want to be fishing any out.

Q. I removed my entire shower, pan and all. I see two types of shower drains at the home improvement stores, one plastic and one iron. Since I am putting in a PVC type pan liner, the plastic seems like a good choice since I can glue it to the liner, making a better seal. But plastic seems like a bad idea compared to iron, although the strength seems greater, the likelihood of rust would make the plastic look good again. Which is better?

A. Strength is not a factor in drains, unless you are going to perch the shower up on the drain line. There should be no pressure exerted on the line itself so PVC is a wise choice.

Q. I live in Florida, and among other things, there is a lot of chlorine in the drinking water. I am buying a new home and would like to purchase a whole house filter that will clean the water as much as possible. Does anyone have any suggestions on what to get?

A. Start at a home improvement center and look at the regular low-end filters that are installed on the main line. Combo filters are good with the string wound/ paper filter, and a carbon filter setup provides decent results with the idea of correcting the problem to your satisfaction. This idea is a small investment, and without getting super critical of the situation. The filters are not very expensive. Get on a regular schedule to change the filters, and graduate up to better filters and/or more involved filtering. The type I described is the dual canister type set up.

Q. I noticed water backing up into the downstairs toilet from the washer. I had the septic tank emptied and ran a snake through the main drainpipe. Now the drain empties out slowly. Water still backs up into the toilet if I wash a full load or take a bath or long shower. It bubbles before it starts to back up. I have to wait for water to drain before using water again from any source. There is no smell and no sewage - only water. What could be problem? What is the solution?

A. Washer drainage contains lots of lint. A snake will sometimes go right through the lint and then plug back up when you pull it out. Try a drain cleaner called Drain Care by ZEP. It is safe for septic. It is an enzyme drain cleaner that clings to clogs and "eats" them, unlike caustic cleaners that go right by them. If the problem is not tree roots, it will work. It may take more than one application. It takes overnight, and costs about $8 at home centers.

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