Plumbers test a drain system's integrity to satisfy building code requirements, search for leaks and isolate problem areas. With a few specialised tools and some typical household equipment, the do-it-yourselfer can use the techniques of the professionals. Water drain testing tools include implements which plug, fill and inspect a drain system. Learn about drain testing tools, gather a set and prepare to test both new installations and repairs.
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The term "test plugs" refers to threaded and glue-in pipe fitting which cap drain systems' openings during the testing process. Drain testing involves filling the entire drain system with water to achieve internal pressure. During testing, open pipes which lead to clean outs, sink and bath fixtures must be capped to avoid flooding and water damage. Threaded test plugs fit only into threaded drain pipe fittings, such as clean out and test tees. Glue-in test plugs are small-diameter, plastic disks which adhere to the interior of drain pipes. Because glue-in test plugs are inexpensive and their size reduces the amount of cutting during removal, they are used in lieu of drain pipe cap fittings. Specialised, removable fittings are manufactured for WC or "closet" flanges. A closet flange is the flush-mounted drain fitting beneath a toilet. A WC test fitting typically appears as a large, corklike piece of rubber. Atop the body of the fitting, a winged thumb screw allows plumbers to tighten or remove the plug in an opening.
An inflatable bladder is often used to plug hard to reach portions of pipe. An inflatable bladder is basically a heavy-duty balloon, much like a rubber hot water bottle. The bladder attaches to an air pump or air compressor. A plumber slides the bladder into a pipe, activates the air flow and allows the bladder to expand and clog the pipe. The inflatable bladder provides a means of plugging drain pipes where gluing or threading plugs is not possible. Additionally, bladders are capable of withstanding higher pressure than glued or compression plugs.
Because water is the main component of drain system testing, the garden hose provides a plumber with a means of filling the system's pipes. In most cases, a long garden hose, 75 feet or more, is required to fill a drain system. Drain testing requires long hoses because drains are filled from their highest point--the vents protruding from a structure's roof.
A general-purpose flashlight provides plumbers with an important inspection tool. The most commonly tested structures, buildings under rough construction, often lack adequate lighting. Likewise, drain lines frequently run through ceilings and below floors. A flashlight allows the plumber to fully inspect pipes, joints and fittings for slow or pinhole leaks.
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