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Thread: slip joint reliability and ferncos

  1. #1
    DIY Member adrianmariano's Avatar
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    Default slip joint reliability and ferncos

    I'm planning to redo my kitchen sink soon, and I was looking in Rex Cauldwell's book on Remodel Plumbing and noticed that he recommends a completely different drainage setup than what I understand to be the norm.

    The usual pattern would be to connect the sinks together with a T which feeds into the trap and then out to the drain line. Many of the connections here are done with slip joints. Cauldwell claims that slip joints tend to fail after a few years or if they get bumped, and he sees tons of rotted out kitchen cabinets as a result of this construction. He also complains that this pattern uses pipes which are quite narrow and constrict the flow too much. (And I have to admit that some of the T connectors I've seen do have only a 1/2 inch wide space at the intersection.)

    Instead he recommends a drainage pattern where he uses 90 degree fernco connectors at each sink and connects to sch 40 1.5 inch pipe which he runs horizontally from each sink towards the back of the cabinet. He then runs those lines down the back of the cabinet, joints them with a Y fitting, followed by the trap, and then a final fernco connector to go into the drain. (Part of his goal is to get the drainage stuff back and out of the way.) Everything is glued together except the fernco connectors. He claims that these ferncos are less likely to leak than the slip joints, even in environments where the drainage gets bumped around a lot. If you need to open it up to clean out the trap or snake the drain you disconnect the ferncos.

    What do people think about this alternate drain arrangement?

  2. #2
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    A slip joint connector can last as many years as a fernco, but it may be true that under a kitchen sink, they can get bumped.

    I guess there is nothing wrong with that set up. It adds about $20 to the job, which in your own home is no big deal, but to a builder or plumbing contractor would be.

    Add a garbage disposal to the picture and any space saving idea are pretty much lost.

  3. #3
    DIY Member adrianmariano's Avatar
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    After spending around $1000 on the new sink, disposal, and new faucets, it seems absurd to cut corners to save $20. In other words, I'll happily pay $20 more to do it better, particularly if it's going to make the sink work better or less likely to leak down the road. (I can understand that for a plumbing contractor, things look a little different.)

    Is it better to do it with ferncos? I mean, is it worth doing it that way? It does seem like the drain would flow better. The drains are actually pretty far in the back which will keep the disposal out of the way, but it's true that with a disposal you can do as well to save space. (Cauldwell doesn't actually show is special drain setup for disposals, only for a no-disposal double sink.)

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default sink

    You will spend more money, but from your description his drain setup is a candidate for major drainage problems, and might not pass most inspections. You cannot use the Fernco 90's and would not want to even if you could. That is a "handyman" type of installation.

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    Plumber/Gasfitter dubldare's Avatar
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    Rex Cauldwell is a dumb-@ss.

    Remember that.




    Now, if you want to know my secret about slip-joints, here it is.


    Hot water, lots of it. Hot water will soften the tubular piping sufficiently to create a very tough joint. Do not use tools, only your hands. No pipe dope either.

    Been doing that for years without the aid of unshielded transition couplings (which are illegal above ground, by the way).
    --Customers of plumbers: Never be afraid to ask for proof of licensure of the plumber servicing your equipment. A licensed plumber will be proud to show you his personal license.--

  6. #6
    DIY Member adrianmariano's Avatar
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    Assuming Cauldwell's setup doesn't leak, what sort of major drainage problems might it lead to?

    Is the criticism of Cauldwell based on this one item, or on other knowledge of his methods? (I mean, should I throw away his book?)

    I have to admit that when I saw the design of the T fitting for the drain where there is only a 1/2 inch wide passage for drainage from each side it made me uneasy. My existing drain setup (that came with the house) doesn't have a constriction like this.

    Regarding hot water: do you put everything together and then run hot water and hand tighten more? Or do you soak the parts in hot water before assembly?

  7. #7
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default book

    If this is a sample of his recommendations, then that is why I would throw the book away. All of that piping will accumulate debris. That debris will start to deteriorate and create an odor. When the odor becomes bad enough you will be coming back here wondering where it is coming from. That is the most obvious reason for not doing it. The other reason is that it will make a very bad drain.

  8. #8
    DIY Member adrianmariano's Avatar
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    I don't understand why this piping will clog more or accumulate debris faster than a standard drain. The standard drain has a 1/2 inch wide passage at the T. Surely that is going to be prone to clogging and will limit the flow rate out of the sinks in any case. My current sink drain is not a conventional one and I have to admit that when I saw the conventional one I was surprised by how tiny the passage was in that T.

    The Cauldwell drain has a horizontal run from each sink. Why is that more prone to debris accumulation than the horizontal run between the sinks in a conventional drain? Then the piping is vertical which is surely not going to be prone to accumulation. And then you have the trap which is going to be similar to a regular drain. Maybe I should post a picture of his drain setup?

    I would like to understand why his drain setup is worse than the standard one because to me (as a naive homeowner with very limited plumbing experience) it looks better, with the possible exception of it being kind of a pain to disconnect everything to clean out the trap.

    Anybody know WHY code prohibits ferncos that aren't buried?

  9. #9
    Plumber plumber1's Avatar
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    When you have as much practical experience as these men at this site that donate their time to help the novice, then you can make a judgement call.

    Who in the world that has worked in the real world would think that someone who writes a book, has it all over plumbers that have seen just about everything, think that a Rex book would be enlightening.

    But books are written to sell.........probably to appeal to a do-it yourself-er.

    Rex Cauldwell is a dumb-@ss.
    dubldare
    Last edited by Terry; 06-12-2008 at 04:13 PM.

  10. #10
    DIY Member adrianmariano's Avatar
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    "When you have as much practical experience as these men at this site that donate their time to help the novice, then you can make a judgement call."
    You've hit the nail on the head. Various judgement calls arise throughtout any home repair/remodeling project. They can't be avoided. Sometimes I think my judgement is up to the job. Sometimes I'm not sure sure. That is exactly why I posted this inquiry. To me Cauldwell makes sense. So am I missing something? If so, what? Why shouldn't I implement the Cauldwell drain? How is it inferior to the standard drain? It doesn't help me to hear "that drain system is bad" without knowing why.

    Cauldwell appears to be a professional plumber ("master plumber", according to his bio) who has been in the business for decades and has seen lots of failed drain systems in real houses out in the world. His credentials appear to be as good as anybody's, and he appears to have plenty of practical experience. It does not appear that he just writes books to appeal to gullible do-it-yourselfers. He presents this as a solution to problems he has observed in his many years of plumbing.
    Last edited by Terry; 06-12-2008 at 04:12 PM.

  11. #11
    In the Trades kordts's Avatar
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    You asked, and everybody said don't use that set-up. Then you ask again. Don't use it, but if you do, don't come crying back here.

  12. #12
    DIY Member adrianmariano's Avatar
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    Actually it's not the case that everybody said don't use it.

    I need to understand what I'm doing. (I guess you can think of it as a personal quirk.) It's not enough for me to have someone say "No, it's bad" without explaining what's wrong with it. If I didn't have this concern with understanding I might have run off and implemented the Cauldwell system without even asking here. One advantage of understanding what I'm doing is that I'm not going to run back and blame other people for the outcome. In the end what I do is my decision and I accept responsibility for the result.

    The reason for asking here is to get some explanations of what, specifically, is good or bad with the Cauldwell drain system.

    So far I have the following claims about the system:

    Cauldwell says it is (1) less likely to leak and (2) it will deliver faster drainage and (3) it keeps the pipes out of the way to make more room under the sink. Of these claims, (3) is obviously true, (2) definitely seems to be true since the Cauldwell system has twice as much pipe area, and about (1) I have no clue.

    Cauldwell and jimbo note that the Cauldwell system is more expensive.

    Jimbo says "I guess there's nothing wrong with it".

    hj says it will (1) accumulate debris and (2) "make a very bad drain". It is not clear why either one of these is the case. My own judgement (admitedly not formed from years of practical plumbing experience) is that this drain cannot be any worse than the conventional drain in terms of debris accumulation and flow because it has less constriction than the conventional drain. So what have I missed?

    It has been noted that ferncos are not to code. Why not? What goes wrong with them?

    I think I'll put up a picture tonight of the system.

  13. #13
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    Fernco's without the metal outside sleeve can shift over time.
    For that reason Plumbing inspectors don't allow them.
    Plumbers have pulled out plenty that have sagged and cut off the flow.

  14. #14
    DIY Senior Member TedL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry
    Fernco's without the metal outside sleeve can shift over time.
    For that reason Plumbing inspectors don't allow them.
    Plumbers have pulled out plenty that have sagged and cut off the flow.
    So, if the Ferncos with the two small bands are replaced by Fernco Proflex fittings, are there other objections? I would also like to get away from slip couplings in the "high traffic" area under the sink for all the reasons that slip couplings are not supposed to buried in inaccessible locations...leaks. And since the mere presence of some water under the sink does not necessarily mean a leak (think pull out sprayer hose that gets some water on it and what happens to that water), there can be recurring false alarms that waste time investigating.

    Would an additional 12 or fewer inches of horizontal drain moved upstream of the trap really add significantly to the odor from the drain?

  15. #15
    Plumber plumber1's Avatar
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    Jam nuts and washers shouldn't be a problem.

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