The Home Building Industry's Technical Information Resource

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You can increase the value of your next remodeling project by including energy efficiency improvements. Learn how with Energy Efficiency Improvements for Remodeling Projects.

This section provides information about plumbing distribution systems, fixtures, septic systems, water heaters, and gas lines.

Innovative Products & Processes - Technology Inventory [Back to Top]

Consider using the products below to take advantage of their potential to provide one or more of the following in the homes you build: Affordability, Energy Efficiency, Quality & Durability, Environmental Performance, and Safety.

Aerobic Wastewater Treatment Systems
Air Admittance Valves
Aluminum-Plastic Composite Water Piping
Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride (CPVC) Water Supply Piping
Constructed Wetlands for Wastewater Treatment
Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing (CSST) for Gas Distribution
Cross-Linked Polyethylene (PEX) Water Supply Piping
Drainwater Heat Recovery
Drip Irrigation Leach Field
Epoxy Pipe Lining
Gas Line Break Detection - Excess Flow Valves (EFVs)
Gravel-Less Pipe Leach Fields
Greywater Reuse
Heat Pump Water Heaters
Hot Water Recirculation Systems
Laminar Flow Fixtures
Low Flow Plumbing Fixtures
On-Site Sewage Disposal Systems - Overview
Plastic Chamber Leach Fields
Plumbing Manifolds
Pressurized Leach Field Dosing
Rainwater Harvesting
Shared Wastewater Treatment Systems
Solar Water Heaters
Tankless Water Heaters
Toilets - High Efficiency Toilets (HET™ )
Universal Design Bathtubs and Showers
Water Flow Leak Detectors and Shutoff Valves
Water Heaters With Space Heating Capability

Design & Construction Guides [Back to Top]

Guides for designing and building various types of construction

Alternative Individual Wastewater Systems: Options for Difficult Sites
Copper Prices Put Plastic Water Piping on the Rise
Demand (Tankless or Instantaneous) Water Heaters Overview
Design Guide - Residential PEX Water Supply Plumbing Systems
Domestic Hot Water System Modeling for the Design of Energy Efficient Systems
PPFA Installation Handbook for PEX Hot and Cold Water Distribution Systems
Solar Water Heating
Solar Water Heating Systems - ToolBase TechSpecs
Tech Set 1: Resource Efficient Plumbing
The Rehab Guide, Volume 6: Kitchens & Baths
The Rehab Guide, Volume 8: HVAC/Plumbing
Water Heating: Energy-efficient strategies for supplying hot water in the home
Water Softeners Can Cause Problems
Best Practices [Back to Top]

General recommendations and accepted practices

25 Most Often Cited OSHA Standards for Construction and Remodeling

Performance Reports & Case Studies [Back to Top]

Evaluation of how products and systems perform in real life applications

Barriers to the Installation of Residential Fire Sprinklers Project Report and Case Studies This project identified and evaluated barriers to the installation of residential fire sprinklers, including both cost and acceptance issues.
Copper Pinhole Leaks Internal pitting corrosion of copper pipes is a rare but costly problem that leads to the formation of pinhole leaks.
Evaluation of Residential Hot Water Distribution Systems by Numeric Simulation The goal of this project was to simulate and compare the energy and water performance, economics, and barriers to use of various domestic hot water distribution systems in new and existing California residences.
Fixture Flow Rate Comparison - Cross-Linked Polyethylene (PEX) Piping and Copper Tubing The flow rate of each plumbing fixture was virtually identical for both PEX and copper piping systems, except for minor differences in the water closet flow rate.
Investigative Report of Copper Plumbing Failures Under Concrete Slabs A series of failures of underground copper water supply pipes were reported in Miami, FL. This report contains results of a preliminary investigation of failed plumbing materials retrieved from two homes.
Maximum Performance Testing of Popular Toilet Models (Condensed Version) This condensed version of the full report includes a table of the study results sorted by manufacturer and performance level. It includes only minimal information for the consumer or specifier to make purchasing decisions.
Maximum Performance Testing of Popular Toilet Models (Full Report) Virtually all toilets on the market meet minimum standards set forth by the Canadian Standards Agency and the American National Standards Institute for flush volume and performance. What is less known is how these toilets meet consumer expectations. This is the full report.
Opportunities for Solar Water Heating A series of focus groups were held with builders, contractors, and architects, all of whom had some familiarity with solar water heating. Overall, they were skeptical about the cost-effectiveness of solar water heaters. They feared bad installations would cause roof leaks and they perceived the solar collectors to be ugly. They made a number of specific suggestions for steps the solar industry needs to take in order for solar water heating to be successful in the residential market.
PATH Technology Inventory Review This report describes the process and results of a short-term activity initiated by the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH) to review and identify technologies in the 162-item PATH Technology Inventory that should be high-priority candidates for a concerted PATH technology transfer or diffusion effort.
Performance Comparison of Residential Hot Water Systems Results of weekly performance testing and annual simulations of electric water-heating systems are presented.
TechPractices: Carl Franklin Homes, Kensington Park, Dallas, TX Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs), Geothermal Heating and Cooling units, and other PATH program technologies were used to produce houses that cost significantly less for low-income homeowners to operate and maintain than conventionally constructed units.
TechPractices: Dunrite Construction Inc., Rolling Meadows Subdivision, Dover, DE Paul Keeley, of Dunrite Construction, has taken his small residential construction firm a couple steps beyond a simple awareness of R-values, making energy performance a cornerstone of his company.
TechPractices: Environmental Showcase Home, Phoenix, AZ The intent of the Environmental Showcase Home (ESH) is to demonstrate that products available on the market can make a resource-conserving home without compromising comfort or aesthetics.
TechPractices: FBC Infill Housing, Louisville, KY Durable yet inexpensive, these houses are planned with energy- and cost-saving features that make them affordable to would-be home buyers with marginal resources.
TechPractices: Island Presentation Partnership, Dewees Island, SC Combining local climatic responses with new materials, Dewees Island contains a growing population while protecting its sensitive ecosystems.
TechPractices: Lido Homes, Silvercast Western Homes, Newport Beach, CA The new two-story homes at the Lido Peninsula Resort are designed by architects and built by factory workers on an assembly line.
TechPractices: Ocean Colony Landing, Component Structures, Marshfield, MA Component Structures, Inc. (CSI) uses innovative technology to address regulatory concerns and cost issues, creating an instant hit near the Boston waterfront.
Testing of Popular Flushometer Valve/Bowl Combinations This report summarizes the testing of seven flushometer valves and seven bowls (for a total of 49 combinations) for flush volume, effect of static and flowing pressure on flush volume, variability of flush volume by adjustment of flush valves, and flush performance.
Water Closet Testing A synopsis of the flush performance results of a variety of commonly available toilets.

Field Evaluations [Back to Top]

Evaluation of how products and systems perform in real life applications

Bob Ward Companies
Brighton Construction - Liberty Village
Chapman Companies
Davis Construction
Franklin Homes - The Vistas at Kensington Park
GreenTrust LLC and ICI Homes
Habitat for Humanity - Schenectady
J. W. Miller Companies - Armory Park del Sol
K. Hovnanian Inc.
Lancaster County Career & Technology Center (LCCTC)
MADE Project
Model reMODEL
Oakwood Homes
Shea Homes

Questions & Answers [Back to Top]

Frequently asked questions, answered by home building professionals

Are tankless water heaters fueled by natural gas more energy efficient than their electric counterparts?
Can PEX be joined with solvent cement?
Can PEX be used for aboveground outdoor applications?
Can PEX be used for underground cold-water service applications?
Can PEX be used under the slab?
Can PEX save me money?
Can we use corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST) flexible gas piping underground instead of black pipe?
How are PEX systems sized?
How are PEX systems tested for leaks?
How can I be sure that PEX is a safe product for plumbing?
How do I thaw PEX lines?
How large should the water supply line be to a house with 3½ baths and an outdoor sprinkler system?
How long can PEX be exposed to sunlight?
How long has PEX been used?
How soon after installation can you pressure test a PEX tubing installation?
Is a rainwater collection system a good idea on a new house?
Is flexible PEX plumbed differently than rigid material plumbing systems?
Is PEX freeze-break resistant?
There seems to be a problem with leaking copper pipes that are underground in our area. Is it safe to install copper pipes in our new project?
What are manifold plumbing systems?
What are my options in replacing my septic system?
What are recommended uses for PEX?
What are temperature limitations for PEX?
What is PEX?
What is the expected performance of PEX water distribution systems?
What is the maximum hole that can be drilled in 2x4 studs in load bearing walls for wiring or plumbing?
What joining systems are available?
What products can I specify to help lower my plumber's bid prices?
What sizes, lengths and packaging options of PEX are available?
What will it entail to renovate an old home and give it new plumbing? How much will it cost?
Where is PEX approved for use?
Where is PEX available?
Which manufacturing method for PEX is recommended for hot and cold potable water?
Why is PEX an excellent piping material for plumbing?
Will PEX systems help save on utility bills?

Web Links [Back to Top]

Recommended Web resources for additional information