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I have noticed more and more shotty work

heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991
When I go over what I expect from an installer I have rules for them to follow.. Its pretty easy to understand...

Here is my letter box, some employees like to make fun of it, but it is actually a tool..

<a href="http://s998.photobucket.com/user/turbobike1/media/letterbox_zps9be67978.png.html"><img src="http://i998.photobucket.com/albums/af107/turbobike1/letterbox_zps9be67978.png" width="1024" height="439" alt="" /></a>

When running a piping system- You can go from A to B, A to C, B to D, D to C, BUT NEVER A to D or B to C... In other words you do not go across the ceiling or run any pipes diagonally.

That is the toughest of my rules to understand, the rest are pretty easy

#2- Hard pipe to the ceiling {this includes gas lines, water lines, condensate lines, electrical ect.} I allow a few exceptions like condensate pump discharge hoses, thermostat wire, ect}... NO pex or gas flex running down the walls...

#3- Straight, level, and plumb {I don't need to explain this one} this rule doesnt apply to pipes that are meant to be installed un-level like some steam piping, drains, ect...

#4- NO COUPLINGS {if you can't go back and disconnect at the elbow, tee, ect then use a ball valve or union, no couplings}, obviously if you are running pipe longer than it is available, use couplings, I have a tech that loves to follow the rules when he knows its going to screw me, he ran 300 ft 1-1/4" line and put a ball valve every 20 feet, I almost had a stroke, and revised this rule....

#5- ISOLATION & ACCESSIBILITY- every component must be capable of being removed with out draining entire system and able to be removed with out removing another component and without un-soldering or un-threading any fittings {so flanges or unions}. Also this rule includes being able to access all clean outs, not block windows or doors, open fire boxes and doors, and hang all components where you can service them, so NO stuffing zone valves inside an 8 ft tall basement ceiling... ALL VALVES MUST BE ABLE TO OPERATE, and face forward when possible, NO BENT handles, if you need to shorten a handle, remove the sheath, cut the handle and replace the sheath adjusted to size...

#6- Minimum Leak Point Design- this just means don't use a 3/4" male adapter, a piece of tubing, 90*, and a 3/4 X 1/2" reducer when you can use a brass 3/4m X 1/2c 90* ....

#7- No "quick fittings" this includes shark bites and compression fittings {only time I allow compression is on discharge lines for T&P, PRV, vented backflows, ect, this helps when changing them...

#8- DRAINS and gauges- drains installed where they make sense, at the lowest point of the system, purge stations, where ever you will need to drain the system for service, to add anti frz, cleaning solutions, ect... Gauges installed where they make sense {some systems should have them on returns, supplies, some need both, some need one before and after mixing valves, some need for each zone, some only need the one on the boiler...

#9- Threaded joints- Teflon tape and then pipe "dope", NEVER solder on a threaded joint {solder the adapter first, then thread it in}. All steel/cast piping should be painted if exposed to elements

#10- Soldered Joints- Biggest rule is Drips, NO DRIPS Allowed!!! Not even if you can not see them.... Cover the units while soldering to avoid finish damage

#11- Secure- all piping and components must be secured, unistrut, clamps, hangers, ect, must be used where needed, wall hung units must be installed on painted wood back board, floor units must be installed on some sort of block {no bricks, especially taken from customers gardens}

#12- All the things I did not mention that go without saying- NO LEAKS, install to code and instructions, clean up and remove all packaging and installation materials,

NO DUST- Clean unit {Blue spray}, piping, tanks, ect. before leaving. New systems should look new, no solder splatters on top of boilers, no scratches {that's why we have touch-up paint}.

Some rules may interfere with each other.. In this case, simply use common sense, I do not care that crossing the ceiling or running pipes crooked saves a couple of leak points, we do not do cross celings or install un-plumb.... US common sense and when that is not available, call me...

If you follow these rules, your jobs will always look amazing, and it doesn't add as much time as you think... MAYBE an Hour a job sometimes more a lot of times less.. And you wont have burnt pipe dope, drippy solder, crooked pipes, hard to service units, ect.... It will be a job well done... The cost for isolation can get expensive and I know sometimes the job budgets are tight, but give the customer the option, say "look" for an additional X amount of dollars, you will save X amount in service time if this component fails" most will understand and want the isolation, others {house flippers, contractors, ect} will not, that is not your fault...

But anyway, I figured I would share my practices... I have seen so many systems that people post on the wall that the contractor just threw together, how much work do these guys have where they can not afford another 20 minutes to do it rite....

These rules are always changing since people will continue to surprise you with what they will do while thinking... So if anyone has any to add feel free to post them here...


  • Robert O'Brien
    Robert O'Brien Member Posts: 3,541

    Not to be a wise ****,but it's shoddy.
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • ttekushan_3
    ttekushan_3 Member Posts: 958

    All good requirements,


    "#5- ISOLATION & ACCESSIBILITY- every component must be capable of being removed with out draining entire system . . ."

    Good heavens, this is my biggest pet peeve. Well, that and badly piped steam boilers (which are everywhere).

    Looked at a church with 5 large B&G flanged circulators. Boiler room piping all welded. NO valves anywhere. Can't isolate zone from zone or boiler from all zones. Need to replace a pump seal? PRV? Gage? Total drain down. Ugh. System is hybrid monoflo and parallel feed/ return. It took 6 hours to bleed the system!

    They don't want to hear about putting in proper isolation, of course.
  • R Mannino
    R Mannino Member Posts: 440

    45's in that fitting bucket? They come in handy.
  • jonny88
    jonny88 Member Posts: 1,139
    but how do you compete

    I much rather running copper and cast iron.This is how I was taught in NYC where plumbers in my old company took pride in their work.If a pipe was crooked my boss would tell us to rip it out and do over.Now after moving to Long Island I am being forced to use pex and pvc if I want to work.I find it almost embarasing to use pex as I feel it is a real step down from how we were taught.When I use pex I like to do a home run system but have been told by many it is overkill.I cant imagine how the old timers feel about it.Just my two cents.
  • heatpro02920
    heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991
    I don't have any issues with 45*s

    I use a lot of unistrut so sometimes an offset it needed to make the strut work... I just have a huge problem with couplings, I have a picture somewhere of a water heater install {gas a basic 40 ga gas water heater} that had 8 couplings on each side, the house was around 70 years old, and every time someone installed a tank they cut the hot and cold pipes then installed another coupling, I had them on my toolbox for years, but it has since been misplaced (someone probably junked it)... When I did the water heater install I drained the house down went back to the original 90*s coming down from the ceiling, installed a vac breaker, ball valves on hot and cold, and a union on each side... I also had to repipe the gas line a little so I took out the antique gas service valve and replaced it with a new one and new pipe down to the unit. I charged the customer an additional $85 for the extra work and materials {which I cleared with the wife} and the husband refused to pay it!!! I almost took that as a lesson but instead stuck to my work ethic and would do the same thing today...
  • heatpro02920
    heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991
    edited May 2013
    Thank you Robert


    I was melting shoddy and sh!tty together
  • JeffGuy
    JeffGuy Member Posts: 81
    Great rules

    I think this list of rules is great. I wonder about #5 - what do you consider a "component"? This would be boiler and circulators at a minimum, but do you include anything else?
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,572
    Letter box

    I'm still stuck on the letter box. How about A to H or E to I?

    It is important to give the guys something to joke about.

    Seriously though,

    The rest of the list is the making of a first class job.

    Can it go from I to C to G?

    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,469

    Does that mean that you don't encourage your guys to "Think Outside The Box"? Just kiddin', I think it's great that you take the time to set the bar high. Have some nice name tags made, that include your company name, as well as their name. The next time they laugh at your box, hand each of them his tag, and tell them you want these proudly displayed on every install. They'll understand better.
  • gennady
    gennady Member Posts: 839
    edited May 2013
    How do you compete?

    Everybody competes on its own level in its own market.
  • heatpro02920
    heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991
    zman and the box...

    lol, the box is easy to under stand...

    Say you wan to go from A to E, you need to either go a-g-e or a-h-e

    Say you want to go from B to I you need to go b-f-d-i or b-h-e-i or b-f-e-i ect, you can not cross the square, its not allowed...

    Think of it this way, you are running baseboard from c to d and the boiler is at A you will run your supply a-g-c- and your return d-f-b-h-a or d-f-g-a- ect... but never d-e-a because even though it is the shortest path and will work perfectly, it will be wrong {to me}, you would have crossed the floor boards, X'ed the ceiling and made the job look like garbage...

    Pretty simple make sure all your elbows are straight with the adjacent wall...
  • Wayne Heid
    Wayne Heid Member Posts: 49
    HP - I like the way you think!

    The box is an intriguing way to explain to others what is instinctive to you.

    I like to explain that all piping traveling in the same direction of joists should be up in the joist space. Pipe traveling against the joist should be attached to the underside.

    Horizontal piping is supported every 3rd joist or 4', regardless of pipe size. This keeps things uniform looking.

    No strap iron or mechanic's wire. Always use swivel hangers and threaded rod for anything over 3/4". Hangers and rod are inexpensive. We get lots of compliments on how "commercial" or "heavy duty" our residential installs look.

    Years ago we found the Caddy # 6TIO offset bracket for hanging 3/8" rod from overhead joists and have used them ever since.

    Thanks for starting this thread.

  • heatpro02920
    heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991

    To me my installation rules are just a guide line that if followed will guarantee a decent install every time. When contractors just throw in what they have and make getting done with the job before the end of the day a priority you end up with an untidy, dangerous, hard to service system...

    I use a lot of uni-strut products for hanging pipe and components, threaded rod and c-hangers are also nice, and I agree that wire shouldn't be used for hard pipes, I see jobs where guys use solder to hang pipes.......

    When ever a home owner is getting a contractor to do work, they would be a fool not to see past jobs, either in person or a picture...
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,322
    My pet peave is people

    that say they can change out a boiler in a matter of hours and do it properly. Yet I have to go behind the half day wonders and let the home owners know it will take a bit longer to repipe it properly.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
  • heatpro02920
    heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991
    Charlie them people are easy to bit with the math...

    "You can change my boiler in 4 hours??? So $65 per hour, and Ill buy the materials.... Here is your $260, make sure you rite your license number down the inspector is coming Monday...

    But seriously, I have done boiler swap outs in a few hours, pulling out a Utica star fire 2 and putting the same exact boiler back in, takes a couple hours, most of the time spent draining and filling... I changed out a 6 year old Weil Mclain 40K btu gas boiler {I originally installed it, flooded basement, insurance paid for new boiler} in 1 hour. It was already drained when I got there because when I went to look at it they had a pump in the basement pumping out the water so I opened a few valves and let the water out...

    I did it all alone, broke the unions on supply and return, broke the union on the water feed and gas line, took the new one out of the crate, put the pipes from the old one on the new one, slid it in place, reconnected it all, filled it with water and I was purging it in less than an hour!!! But that doesn't happen often, and when doing something like a ci to mod con, forget it, you are 2 techs and a helper for a full day.... And that is if we can get in there before hand to build our wall...
  • R Mannino
    R Mannino Member Posts: 440
    Build the Wall

    before you get to the job. 1 day and I hadn't been there before and all I had to work off of was the before photo and a couple of dimensions.
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