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S19 E2: Preventing Plumbing Disasters

In this episode, Richard and Ross Trethewey explain why, when, where, and how to prevent major plumbing failures.

Previous episode: S19 E1 | Next episode: S19 E3

In this episode:

Richard explains how, where, and why plumbing systems fail.

Richard gives a deep dive on when and how plumbing pipes and connections can be repaired or replaced.

Ross explains and demonstrates how to prevent plumbing failures with new technology.

Preventing Water Damage

Kevin O’Connor and damage prevention specialist Michael Milligan toured a home to identify ways to prevent plumbing leaks and other flood damage.

Where to find it?

Technical guidance for this segment was provided by State Farm Insurance. State Farm has many tips for preventing floods and other damage to your home. For more information, visit State Farm.

Replacement supply hoses, appliance pans, pipe insulation, air-sealing foam, and sump pumps are available at home centers and hardware stores.

The IntelliFlow automatic shutoff for washing machines is manufactured by:
Watts Water Technologies

How a Frozen Pipe Bursts

Richard demonstrates how and why frozen pipes burst.

Where to find it?

Richard demonstrated that pipes, when frozen, expand in volume, which exponentially increases the water pressure and forces the pipe to burst. In these circumstances, shut the water off at the main and immediately call a plumber.

To prevent the pipes from freezing in the first place, Richard recommended keeping cabinet doors open and insulating the pipes with pipe insulation. This can be found at home centers.

Water Supply Piping

Richard and Kevin visited a local home center where Richard explained the different options available for water supply piping including galvanized steel, copper, CPVC, and PEX. He also showed some different types of fittings used to join pipes together.

Where to find it?

Water supply pipes and fittings are available at any hardware store, home center or plumbing supply house.

How to Replace Polybutylene Piping with PEX

Richard travels to Richmond, Virginia to help a homeowner replace her polybutylene piping with conventional PEX.

Where to find it?

Polybutylene pipes are no longer to code and need to be replaced by a licensed professional. Richard was assisted by Capital Mechanical. The tools and materials required to replace the pipes, including the PEX lines, fittings, and the expansion tool, can all be found at home centers and plumbing supply houses. The PEX piping for this project was supplied by Uponor.

Future House | Smart Automatic Water Shutoff Valves

Ross travels to Los Angeles to learn about innovations being made to automatic water shutoff valves.

Where to find it?

While automatic water shutoff valves have been around for quite some time, there are a number of different companies that are now modifying the units to make them smart devices.

In this segment, Ross learned about the functions of a Flo by Moen automatic water shutoff valve. During the discussion afterwards, Ross and Richard also talked about the Phyn automatic water shutoff valve, which is a similar device in the smart automatic water shutoff valve space.

Testing Smart Automatic Water Shutoff Valves

Richard Trethewey tests two different styles of smart automatic water shutoff valves.

Where to find it?

Richard explained that most modern automatic water shutoff valves fall under two categories of design: sensor-activated and valve body activated.

The sensor-activated valves are usually more economical and have a faster response time, since their primary function is to detect leaks and other plumbing failures. The sensor-activated valve Richard demonstrated was a Floodmaster App-Based Wireless Plumbing Leak Detection & Automatic Water Shut-Off System, which is manufactured by Reliance Detection Technologies. The kit comes with two sensors and additional ones can be purchased and paired.

The valve body activated valves have more features to them, including usage reports and running health tests to try and catch plumbing failures ahead of time. The all-in-one smart valve Richard demonstrated was the Phyn Plus Smart Water Assistant + Shutoff, which is manufactured by Phyn.

Expert assistance with this segment was provided by the Walter F. Morris Company.

Original Air Date: Oct 11, 2020 Season 19; Ep.2 23:43

Products and Services from this Episode

Technical guidance:
State Farm Insurance

Automatic shutoffs:
Flo by Moen
Floodmaster App-Based Wireless Plumbing Leak Detection & Automatic Water Shut-Off System
Phyn Plus Smart Water Assistant + Shutoff

Expert assistance:
Capital Mechanical
Walter F. Morris Company

PEX piping: