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Every element, piece or part of your home needs a purpose. The drain lines that bring waste from your home are often not thought of. But even these parts have a purpose, if not one of the most important, which is bringing waste and stink out of the home! These drain lines need to be made of the proper materials and be free from any debris to ensure proper function. And, they need to have the proper slope and length to operate efficiently for a lifetime. Know the drain line’s purpose and you’ll be better prepared to evaluate any potentially smelly situation.

Waste Vent

Easy to install and less expensive to buy. Should have a long dependable life. Caustic chemicals will dissolve or damage the plastic.

Galvanized Steel
Life expectancy is 50 to 75 years. It does not oxidize as fast as galvanized steel water supply lines.

Cast Iron
Life expectancy is typically 60 to 100 years. Cast iron drain piping that fails sooner may have been installed with too much slope. Vertical piping may occasionally break from stresses and or inadequate support. Check cast iron piping at the base of the vertical sections and pay special attention to the horizontal piping, approx. 8’ to 20’ past the vertical drop. Older cast iron piping that has been allowed to dry out, then resume function, may have deterioration at the top of the horizontal run.

A quality system used mostly in the 1950s and 1960s. It was common to use copper drains for sinks and tubs, etc. into the 1990s. However, PVC is clearly the material of choice in modern construction.

Mostly found in older houses, mainly for traps under water closets, sinks, tubs and showers.

Orangeburg or Bermico
Manufactured during the Korean War years, it is a paper tape type pipe impregnated with tar. Its life expectancy is typically 30 to 60 years. In older neighborhoods, where Orangeburg pipe had been installed, it has mostly been replaced or abandoned. This pipe is used on the exterior and is susceptible to damage by tree roots. It also had a tendency to collapse with age.

Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene (ABS)
During the mid 1970s, Centaur and Phoenix Manufacturing, Inc. began to blend a variety of plastic resins and substances that were not virgin. If you find pipe that is marked “Centaur” or “Phoenix,” it is likely the pipe is defective. Evaluate the degree of deterioration that may be present. However, improved ABS is in very wide use today in new construction as well as remodel.

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Line Slope

Waste Line Slope
All sewage or waste lines should have a downward slope Pipe Installations of 1/8 to 1/4 inch per foot for their entire run. There should be no low spots, sags or slopes of more than 1/4 inch per foot. Low spots or sags tend to allow sewage to accumulate and create vulnerabilities for leaking and blockage.

Water supply and waste lines should be supported every 4 feet. This support can be in the form of brackets, wire hangers, or in some cases, the pipes run through structural members such as joists. The brackets should be the same or a material compatible with the piping. If this is not possible, there should be a separation between the dissimilar materials.

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