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Updated: April 15, 2011 16:58 IST

For the right plumbing techniques

Aswath M.U.
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Improper plumbing designs cause leakages in pipes and damage the building, says Aswath M.U.

Leaking pipes, pipe drips, noise in pipes, wet wall surfaces, leaking toilet areas, clogs in kitchen pipes, and foul smell in the bathroom are common problems due to improper design of plumbing and improper air vents.

The plumbing system includes water supply and distribution pipes, plumbing fittings and traps; soil, waste, vent pipes and anti-siphonage pipes; building drains and building sewers including their respective connections, devices and appurtenances within the property lines of the premises; and water-treating or water-using equipment.

Potable water which is satisfactory for drinking, culinary and domestic purposes is supplied to homes through pipes by the BWSSB and is then distributed to sinks, toilets, washers, bathtubs, and related fixtures. The drain-waste-vent system carries away the used waterand other wastes such as water from closets, urinals, kitchens etc. to sewers or septic tanks.

The planning, design, construction and installation of water supply, drainage, sanitation and gas supply systems shall be in accordance with the provisions of Part 9, Section 1 and Section 2 of the National Building Code of India. Plumbing services are broadly classified in to two sections as per NBC: 1. water supply, drainage and sanitation (including solid waste management); and 2: gas supply.

Combined or separate drainage systems may be designed as per the requirements to carry the foul water and surface water. The drainage system shall be designed, installed and maintained to guard against fouling, deposit of solids and clogging and with adequate cleanouts so arranged that the pipes may be readily cleaned. The materials used must be durable and free from defective workmanship for satisfactory service. The fixture traps and vent pipes are very important and must be designed, installed and maintained properly in order to provide adequate circulation of air in all pipes with no danger of siphonage, aspiration or forcing of trap seals under conditions of ordinary use.

Vent pipes should be provided throughout the system. Every vet terminal shall extend to the outer air and so installed as to minimise the possibilities of clogging and return of foul air to the building. The plumbing system shall be checked and pressure-tested for all possible leaks and defects before commissioning.

The required site plans and drainage plans should be submitted to the authority concerned and the works should be carried out by a licensed plumber under the supervision of engineers and architects after obtaining the necessary sanctions.

Right approach

The Indian Plumbing Association (IPA), which was formed in 1993, says that the plumbing industry is an ignored profession in this country. For an ideal plumbing design or for that matter for any design, a collaborative approach is very much essential. Engineers (plumbing and structural), builders, contractors, architects and clients must participate in finalising the plans.

IPA released the Uniform Plumbing Code-India (UPC-I) at the sixth Indian Plumbing Conference at Mumbai on February 11-12, 2008. The new Uniform Plumbing Code-India has the benefit of years of practical global industry experience and will improve the standards to be consistent with other developed nations. The IIP provides educational and vocational training institutes to meet the large demand for plumbing engineers and technicians.

In order to improve the skills and expertise of the professional plumbers the Indian Institute of Plumbing (IIP) was set up as the training arm of the Indian Plumbing Association. The quality of plumbing work has long been an issue in India. Plumbers are often unqualified or have graduated from being casual labourers with no education or training. The IIP also provides training for the tradesmen in code adherence and quality of workmanship. This will allow the domestic plumbing industry to grow beyond its inherent limitations based on the shortage of skilled labour.

Many architectural and structural engineering firms use software to visualise the designs by walkthroughs. For designing, designers use the building information modelling (BIM). It is the process of generating and managing building data that can be used from the planning stage, through construction, and well into all stages of a building's life-cycle. Typically, it uses three-dimensional, real-time, dynamic building modelling software to increase productivity in building design and construction.

[The author is a Professor at BIT and Secretary General-ACCE (I)]


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