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Introduction To Water Heaters Part 2

Chances are that sometime, when you least expect it, your water heater will stop heating water and you’re up the proverbial creek without a paddle. The statistics say so. estimates about 27 million U.S. households have a water heater 10 to 12 years old and, since the life expectancy of storage water heaters (the most popular type in residential homes) is 10 to 15 years tops, a bunch of water heaters are going to be replaced in the next few years. Your’s may be one.

In the conclusion to our Introduction to Water Heaters, we take a closer look at two of the most popular water heater types — storage tank and tankless — and conclude with water heater issues, a few maintenance tips, and simple ways to reduce water heating bills.

Introduction To Water Heaters

The new Department of Energy (DOE) efficiency standards for water heaters went into effect this spring with some discomfort to homeowners.

Yes, replacing an existing water heater will cost more, but how much depends on the equipment and technology chosen.

What you get in return for that extra dinero is moderate-to-significant energy efficiency, again depending on the equipment and technology chosen.

In this post we look at the impact of the new DOE water heater efficiency standards, the types of equipment available to homeowners, and purchase considerations.

If you have any questions regarding the new standards and what it means for your home, discuss with your plumber or plumbing contractor. Some plumbers even specialize in “water heaters.”

An Unofficial Plumbing Checklist For Columbus GA Residents

Plumbing is the one system in your home that can malfunction at any time, in any number of places, for any number of reasons.

For comparison, your air conditioner cycles on and off a several times a day. Your only real interaction with the AC is setting the thermostat and remembering to change the air filter, unless it’s time for seasonable maintenance and service. As long as homeowners use a professional contractor for checkups once or twice a year, the AC should hum along nicely.

But that’s not the case with residential plumbing. There are so many "touch points" for plumbing in your home that any problem can arise at any time. A running toilet. Leaky faucets. A pipe that bursts.

Most of the time residents are unaware that their behavior and activity may be causing plumbing problems, which remain unseen until something happens that warrants a call to an area plumber or plumbing contractor for emergency repair.

Common Residential Plumbing Issues

Plumbing is the most volatile system in the home. You use water daily to take showers and baths, to flush toilets, to wash clothes, to cook with, and to water the yard in the spring and summer.

Because water is distributed throughout the home it touches many locations and surrounding areas — bathrooms, counters, kitchens, floors, refrigerators, the laundry room, and outside. With so much daily use and many touch points, there’s greater potential for things to go wrong that at some point you’ll need to call a plumber or plumbing contractor.

Plumbing 101 Plumbing Glossary Of Terms

Before we go too much further introducing homeowners to the world of residential plumbing, here’s a handy dandy Plumbing Glossary of Terms.

These are mostly commonly-used terms, although a few may be more advanced. These may come in handy for homeowners trying to solve problems or make repairs to their home’s plumbing, or when they’re talking with professionals for problems or renovations beyond their expertise.

Handy Plumbing Glossary of Terms

ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene)

Rigid black plastic pipe used mostly for drain or waste lines.


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
An opening in the wall or ceiling near a fixture that allows access for servicing the plumbing/electrical system. Whirlpool tubs, for example, often have access panels on a nearby wall, or possibly on an adjoining closet wall. If you use your whirlpool tub frequently, it’s not a bad idea to know where the access panel is and how to turn off the supply line if needed.


A very strong and hard thermoplastic 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.

A fitting that unites different types of pipe together, e.g. ABS to cast iron pipe. There are types of pipe that should not be fitted together. If you are making repairs and are uncertain about types of pipes, ask a plumber or sales rep at a plumbing supply house or even a knowledgeable sales associate at a home improvement center in the area.

Adjusting Linkage

An adjustable rod or strap that forms the connection between the lift rod and the ball lever assembly of the drain.


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.

Aerator Fittings

A type of fitting installed on a plumbing fixture that mixes water with air. These fittings help with water conservation and reduce splashing.

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 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.

Angle Stop or Angle Valve

Angle stops are named because they are manufactured at a 90 degree 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.

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.

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.

Basin Wrench

A tool that only has one real use, it’s inexpensive (easily found at home improvement centers and plumbing supply stores) and pretty easy to use. A basin wrench actually looks like a steel bar with a curved head with teeth on one end. The other end has 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.

Black Water

Waste water from toilet, urinals, bidets or food prep receptacles or waste water from drains receiving chemical waste.

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

Closet Auger
A flexible rod with a curved end used to access the toilet’s built-in trap and remove clogs.

Closet Bend
A curved fitting that connects the closet flange to the toilet drain.

Closet Flange
An anchoring ring secured to the floor. The base of the toilet is secured to this ring with bolts.

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.

A fitting that joins two pieces of pipe.

CPVC (Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride)
Rigid plastic pipe used in water supply systems, where code permits. If you are unsure of local codes, check with a plumber or plumbing contractor. Codes are not to be taken lightly.

Abbreviation for drain, waste and vent.

Drop in Bathtub

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.

A pipe fitting with two openings that changes the direction of the line. Also called an ell. It comes in a variety of angles, from 22 1/2° to 90°.

The proper slope or pitch of a pipe for adequate drainage.

In plumbing, the devices that provide a supply of water and/or its disposal for sinks, tubs, and toilets. These are parts of the plumbing system that homeowners access most frequently.

The paste that is used in soldering metal joints. Flux aids the process by preventing oxidation of the joint.

Gray Water

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.

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 it’s effectiveness. Hard water treatment comes in several forms the most common is an ion exchange based water softener.

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 five feet outside of the building.

Abbreviation for inside diameter. All pipes are sized according to their inside diameter.

Abbreviation for outside diameter.

PB (Polybutylene)
Flexible plastic tubing used in water supply systems where allowed by code. If you are unsure of local codes, check with a plumber or plumbing contractor. Codes are not to be taken lightly.

Plumber’s Putty
A pliable, popular putty used to seal joints between drain pieces and fixture surfaces. Easy to work with and readily available at home improvement stores throughout our area.

PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)
A rigid white or cream colored plastic pipe used in non-pressure systems, such as waste and vent systems.

A fitting that connects pipes of different sizes.

A vertical assembly of fittings and pipes that distributes water upward.

In home construction, the portion of a plumbing installation that includes running the water supply lines and drain, waste and vent lines to the proposed location of each fixture. This is done early in the construction process before walls are sheetrocked, for example.

A complete or secondary section(s) of pipe that extend from supply to fixture or drain to stack.

Sanitary Fitting
Fitting that joins the assorted pipes in a drain, waste and vent system; designed to allow solid material to pass through without clogging.

Soil Stack
Largest vertical drain line to which all branch waste lines connect; carries waste to the sewer line.

A metal alloy that is melted to join or mend metal surfaces; also, the act of melting solder into the joint.

Stop Valve
A valve that controls the flow of water to an individual fixture, allowing water supply to be stopped to one fixture without affecting the water supply to other fixtures. It’s important for homeowners to know where all the stop valves are for each fixture in case of emergency.

A T-shaped fitting with three openings used to create branch lines.

Curved section of a fixture drain line, designed to hold water thus preventing sewer gases from entering the house.

Three-piece fitting that joins two sections of pipe, but allows them to be disconnected without cutting the pipe. Used primarily with steel pipes, but never in a DWV system.

Vent Stack
The upper portion of the soil stack above the topmost fixture through which gases and odors escape.

A Y-shaped fitting with three openings used to create branch l

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Benjamin Franklin Plumbing® offers customers on-time plumbing services, replacement and repairs done right the first time with courtesy, convenience, cleanliness, competence and character.

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Ben Franklin Plumbing Southeast
261 Mendel Parkway East
Montgomery, AL 36117
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(334) 230-7357 (334) 230-7357
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