Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Plumbing Lingo – Speak the Pro Language

As a lay person, talking with tradespeople can be intimidating.  They speak the language of their trade fluently and joyfully in conversation, describing your plumbing or mechanical problem in great detail. It goes something like this:

Me:  “My toilet runs constantly. I wiggled and bent the long-arm thingy to rebalance the black rubber ball, but that only works for a day or two.  Can you take a look?”

Plumber (takes a look inside and around, the toilet):  “Well, ma’am, your stool is a 1970 American Standard ultra-deluxe-one-piece-silent-flush-vitreous-porcelain-model-with-a-side-mounted-push-button-flush valve – really a fine pot in its day.   But, over the years, the flapper has  deteriorated, the seals are bad, the diaphragm is leaky and the ball cock is shot.”

Me:  “So you said blah blah leaky diaphragm blah flapper, and the widgety doohickle is shot. I need new everything?” 

Plumber: “Yep.”

To help dissolve the plumbing language barrier, below are common plumbing terms that may sound like potty humor but are real-deal trade lingo. Enjoy.

• Ball Cock — The fill valve that controls the flow of water into  your toilet tank.
• Blow Bag – A device that uses a garden hose, water, and a rubber bladder to clear drain pipes.
• Cockhole Cover — A round metal plate (usually, stainless steel) used to cover unused/extra holes in your lavatory/kitchen sink faucet area.
• Diaphragm – One of several valve types used in plumbing.  A diaphragm approach uses a wheel or knob to regulate the flow of water through the valve.  Typically, diaphragm valves are used as shutoffs.
• Dump Valve – Also known as a blow-off valve (BOV).  This is a pressure-release device used in engines to prevent compression surge.
• Flapper – the small, round rubber device located in the bottom of your toilet tank. It’s a valve that opens to allow water to flow from the tank into the toilet bowl.
• Hose Bibb – an exterior faucet or a laundry faucet used to provide water to clothes washers.
• Locate and Trace – an approach to finding the sewer line (it’s route and depth) in one’s yard in order to avoid damaging the line during excavation projects. Locate and trace generally involves running an electric eel equipped with a metal probe (transmitter) through your sewer line and following the signal by using a hand held “receiver.”   A good locator will pinpoint the exact spot  of sewer trouble and keep heavy excavation to a minimum.
• Male/Female Connectors – Gender terms are rampant in the fitting business.  The female connector is socket-esque (it receives); the male connector is spigot-esque (it inserts).  The male connection goes into the female connection and they complete each other.  Just like in the movies.
• Nipple — a short length of pipe (usually threaded) that is installed between couplings or other fittings to create a pipe of the desired length.
• Pipe Dope – Slang for pipe joint sealing compound that is used in soldering copper together.
• Sill Cock – Another name for a hose bibb.
• Sweat the Pipes – Another way of saying “solder two pieces of copper pipe together.”
• Snake — a long, flexible metal coil used to clear clogs from sewer lines and drains.
• Tailpiece —  A piece of drain pipe (about 6-8” long) that runs between the drain opening of a sink or lavatory and the P-trap.

Water You Waiting For?  Ray and his team can speak the lingo AND take the time to explain it to you in common language.  Call him today for all your plumbing needs, questions, and emergencies.  (513) 396-5300.