In today’s modern world, the always growing population is constantly creating new demand for larger inhabitable spaces. This results in large cities that depend on the correct functioning of complex systems in order to maintain certain living standards. Without a doubt, city plumbing is among those important and complex systems. With so many houses, buildings and facilities depending on the correct functioning of plumbing networks, plumbers have got their work cut out for them. Certainly, there are many challenges that need to be overcome in order to implement, maintain and restore city plumbing systems. The following tips will help both professional and amateur plumbers do just that.

8 Tips for Overcoming City Plumbing Challenges

1. Replace Metal Drain Lines with Plastic

several plastic drain pipes

In older parts of the city, many buildings conserve most of their original plumbing. City plumbing used to be almost entirely comprised of metallic pipes and connective parts. Even though metal may seem more reliable, plastic is a more convenient material in almost every single way. Apart from not being corrodible, it lasts longer and allows for better connections to be made. At the same time, it can be adjusted and tightened, allowing for more versatile uses and much easier repairing. Additionally, plastic pipes are much cheaper than metal pipes, making them a great investment.

2. Loosen Stuck Pipes Using Heat

It’s no secret that city buildings tend to have old pipes with old, often stuck connections. One of the biggest challenges city plumbers face is having to deal with these old connections because, apart from rust, they often present hardened pipe dope. This can be very hard to get rid of. The best way to go about it is heating up the connection section by flame. Patience is important as it can take a couple of minutes. If there are any vulnerable surfaces nearby, it is possible to use fire-resistant cloths to protect them.

3. Do Not Underestimate Thread Tape

two rolls of thread tape

When repairing city plumbing, there are many choices to be made. Most of these choices are between different materials, such as the choice between pipe dope and thread tape. For some reason, most people seem to favor pipe dope. However, in many cases, thread tape is a better material. Although both products have advantages and disadvantages, thread tape is a much more versatile material. Apart from not smearing or staining, thread tape can be used in more precise amounts that allow better fitting in small sections of pipe thread. However, it is important to note that they can’t be used on compression or other connections.

4. Get Rid of Stubborn Sections

mineral deposit close-up

Badly applied solder, hardened pipe dope, corrosion and mineral deposits are among the things that can get plumbing parts stuck together. There are times when they can be unstuck using tools and brute force, or perhaps a little heat. However, there are times when stuck parts are just impossible to separate. In those cases, it can be much easier just to remove the troublesome section altogether. Using a hacksaw blade, oscillating tools or rotary tools you can cut kerfs on both sides of the section in order to break it off.

5. Use Caulk Instead of Putty

a bottle of caulk

Even though it is called plumber’s putty, many experts in city plumbing do not use this substance at all. Among other negative characteristics, putty damages some types of plastic. Additionally, it stains surfaces such as natural stone and ceramic. If that wasn’t enough, plumber’s putty tends to crack and break after drying out, allowing leaks to be formed. Meanwhile, silicone caulk is a high-quality sealant that lasts much longer and doesn’t dry out enough to crack. This material can also resist much higher temperatures than putty. Additionally, it’s much safer and easier to apply.

6. Do Not Overtighten Supply Lines

One of the main characteristics of city plumbing is that it has often been worked on by various plumbers throughout many years. Because many of them did not know exactly what they were doing, people often see things like overtightened supply lines. While tightening them as much as possible may seem the logical thing to do, it actually is very counterproductive. After some use, over tightening a supply line has the potential of wrecking rubber seals and cracking threaded nuts.

7. Discover the Amazing Zip-It Tool

a zip it tool in its packaging

Deploying a drain snake in order to unclog a pipe is not fun at all. Disassembling the trap hoping to get to the clog is even worse. Luckily, both of those things can often be avoided by using a zip-it tool. This is a long, and flexible tool that features angled spikes that are capable of hooking whatever is causing the clog. A quick tip: Use a wet/dry vacuum to suck in any residues left after using the zip-it tool. It’s worth noting that flexible-shaft pickup tools can also do the trick sometimes.

8. Use Heat to Soften Solder

soldering copper pipes

Every city plumbing expert knows that the best way to separate a soldered pipe is to cut it. However, for a variety of reasons, it sometimes can’t be done. The most common of the reasons is the impossibility of getting the cutting tool in a small space. It can also be that cutting a section would prevent making further connections. A solution is heating the joint, pulling the fitting as the solder melts.

To anyone that read this guide, it is clear that city plumbing is not without its challenges. City plumbing systems are big and complex enough to make repairing them a daunting task. However, it is important to remember that where there is a will, there’s a way. Throughout the years, city plumbers have discovered and accumulated a huge amount of knowledge to help them accomplish things they otherwise couldn’t. This guide is here to offer you some of those nuggets of plumbing wisdom. Please, share some of your favorite city plumbing tips in the comments!

Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

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