Plumbing refers to the pipes installed in commercial and residential buildings. It also refers to the act of fixing, maintaining or replacing these pipes. Plumbers are those brave folk who will get down and dirty with your pipes in order to make sure your gas and water systems are fully functional.

Plumbing in homes covers sinks, baths, showers, toilets and drains. Appliances such as dishwashers are also connected to the plumbing system in your home. Thus, as you can see, plumbing is an important aspect of any home. Sometimes we forget how big a role water plays in our day to day lives. Without a properly operating water system, we would not be able to perform many of the basic functions that we tend to take for granted. We would not be able to clean ourselves, pour water or flush the toilet.

The problem with plumbing is that does not last forever in pristine condition. Pipes can get clogged. Faucets can start to leak. Water heaters can break down. In winter, the last thing you want is a broken water heater. Having a cold shower on a cold day is not exactly a pleasant experience. This is why the plumbing industry is a very healthy one. We will always need plumbers to help us with our plumbing woes.

Plumbing Valet Service - What is it?

Q: Since we have been on higher water pressure from a new source, we are getting more noise in the pipes. Not banging or clunking, just more water moving through the system faster, kind of a "rushing" noise. The pipe into the house is plastic, then hooks into copper pipe. The noise reverberates down the whole line, and since the pipe is strapped to the floor joists, it makes the noise under the kitchen, bathroom and one bedroom. I know about having a foot or so of capped pipe going up from a line to trap air and cushion the noise of "on" and "off" clunking, but this has me stumped. I am at the point now where I am about ready to rip the strapping off and putting foam around the pipes before I strap them back up. Before I spend the money on this, I thought I would check with you to see if that is what I need to do, or can you suggest something else? Thanks very much.

A: A reduction of 1.5:1 (typically 3/4" to 1/2" is commonly used to increase or maintain water pressure throughout a house. The theory is that, given constant supply pressure, restricting volume will increase velocity. Released pressure at a fixture will be compensated for by this increased velocity.

I expect your hot and cold supply pipes are 1/2 inch diameter. What diameter is the plastic feed? If the reduction is greater than 1.5:1 it's quite likely that the velocity is great enough to cause noise in the pipe.

Check that all the shut-off valves (below the sinks etc.) are completely open. They too, can cause turbulence/noise by restricting water flow. Also, check all the pipes to see if there are any crushed or dented sections.

Foam wrap is a great for insulating purposes, but perhaps a little too soft for noise damping (it would crush flat). By all means, wrap the pipes, but use denser rubber for vibration pads. Extra bracing (for clamping to) might also help.

Alternative: Before you start pulling out nails, check the water velocity at your fixtures, and if it is extremely high, a pressure reducing valve can be installed on the supply line.

Plumbing Valet Service - What is it?

Okay, so, you don't like your toilet or you just want one that's newer or better. Why don't you like your toilet? Do you have one of those awkward round front toilets that are ridiculous for a fully grown man to comfortably use? Well for the purposes of this article I will presume that the answer to that question is yes.

If you have a round front toilet as opposed to an elongated or egg shaped toilet seat then the best option in just about every case is to get a new toilet. I am going to take you through the steps to replacing your indoor outhouse with a more useful appliance that I am sure you will grow to love.

First Step: Locate the bolts that attach the toilet to the floor and measure the distance from those bolts to the wall. That is a measurement you need to get the right toilet, or you will end up with a toilet that is either too close to the wall or too far away. That is your rough-in measurement.

Step Two: Go to your local home improvement establishment and locate an elongated toilet that you like, that has those rough-in measurements on the box.

Step Three: Find a wax ring and new toilet bolts. The guys working there can help you with that, they get asked where they are every day.

Step four: Buy all the stuff you just located and take it home. Remember to lift with your knees or force a friend to help you carry it.

Step five: Turn off the water going to the toilet. You will often find a shutoff valve or knob on the left side of the toilet tank that you can turn clockwise to turn off the water.

Step six: Disconnect the flexible water supply. Be sure to have a towel or a bowl handy to catch or clean up any water that gets on the floor.

Step seven: Turn your attention to the bolts holding the toilet to the floor. Use your pliers that you instinctively already have in your hand to turn the nuts on the bolts counter clockwise. Turn these nuts until they come off.

Step eight: Force your friend to help you carry the old toilet to an out of the way location.

Step nine: You will probably see some nasty gooey stuff on the floor. I know that your first instinct is to touch it. Go ahead and touch it if you want to. Just kidding, don't touch it unless you want to get that stuff all over the place.

Step ten: Follow the manufacturers instructions on putting the toilet together.They are all different so I can't tell you how to do that part.

Step eleven: Get your poor friend to help you lower the toilet onto the new bolts and new wax ring that you have wisely placed in their places. The bolts in the bolt tracks on the left and right sides of the toilet flange or hole you see in the floor. The wax goes around said flange or hole.

Step twelve: Put the nuts on the bolts and tighten them down. They will only turn one way, so I leave that to you to figure out. Do not tighten so hard that you break the porcelain. Just get the nut to the point of being snug then just give it a little bit of a tweak to get it a little tighter.

Step Thirteen: Connect the flexible water supply to the toilet at the only place that you can, on the tank.

Step Fourteen: Turn the water back on by turning the valve knob counterclockwise and watch the water fill the tank. Carefully inspect the toilet and all its connections for any signs of water leaking where it shouldn't and if you see a leak turn the water off and fix the leak.

At this point you should have a fully operational toilet and ready for use. If you don't have a fully operational toilet you can refer to the manufacturers instructions for help. If you can't find the answer then call the help line that will usually be printed somewhere hidden in the instructions.

If at this point you still can't figure out whats wrong please call a licensed plumber to help you out. Please be careful out there and don"t flood your house. Remember plumbers have to get a license for a good reason so if you are in doubt about your abilities please call a licensed plumber first.