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  • Help a Plumbing Engineer out

    Hey guys,

    I am a 24 year old Plumbing Engineer from Knoxville. I've been doing design work for 6+ years at the same firm.

    I'm not sure if this is the right place to post this, but I'm really curious about what we do as engineers that really bothers you, as plumbers. What are some common mistakes we make on our drawings? Why? What could we do better? Please, don't hold back. I'm sure that many of you know more about plumbing than I ever will, and I know that in this trade, learning from a plumber is better than learning from another engineer.

    I really like plumbing, and I come from a plumbing family, so I feel that I'm pretty ambitious about my career and I like to do things right when I can.

    Most of the work I do is schools, retail, offices, a few 10-15 story condos, government/military work, natural gas, and a little storm.

    I have some questions for you guys, too, but I'll save those for later.

  • #2
    Re: Help a Plumbing Engineer out

    Common mistakes ? have you ever tried to install a 6"DWV exactly where there's an "I" beam in the way or better yet a wall that cannot be moved.

    Being an Electrician I don't have plumbing problems, however we share the same types of problems. Every now and then we actually get to see an engineer and say hey what's this ? Just something to think about.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Help a Plumbing Engineer out

      Welcome to the forum.

      First off, thanks for caring enough to ask our opinion.

      I would respect engineers much more if they spent some time in the field. The whole "I am a engineer, therefor I am God" gets a little old. The only engineers I know who are level headed have spent time in the field.

      My brother in law is a engineer, he often contemplates how the world ever got along without him.

      My cousin is a engineer, I nearly killed her when I installed a new water heater. I charged her 400.00 for the install and I hope I never hear from her again when it comes to plumbing.

      When I worked in flooring, the company I worked for refused to work for anyone that was a engineer. At first I did not understand then one engineer slipped in and we laid ceramic tile in his house. The guy refigured the entire job, along with cutoffs and layouts. He researched mortar types along with the ratings and recommendations from other engineers that manufactured the products. He called the tile manufacture and debated the hardness of the tile and the best grout line size to maintain the best integrity.

      It was horrible. He could not understand why we had left over tile in the end and refused to pay for the couple extra boxes of tile. Then he came back in to pay his bill and figured out where cut offs could have been used and altered the layout on the cad drawing he done. He wanted more money off because he figured out how to save some tiles. He debated the grout line sizing and felt that if we would have increased our grout joint he could have saved one and half boxes of tile. So, he didn't want to pay for that either.

      At the company I am at right now we are letting a customer go that is a engineer. Their is no talking to him.

      I also refuse to work for anyone that says they are a engineer.


      Sorry, I am done with my rant.
      Anyone can tear a man down, few can build one up.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Help a Plumbing Engineer out

        1) don't beat up the guy who finds your mistake, thank him.( all of us make mistakes, the best we can hope for is good people to point them out before they become a BIG problem)
        2) If you have a major remodel and GPR (ground pen. radar)is required. Ask the GC for physical proof that it was done. It's only happened twice in nearly thirty years but it sucked both times. The GC gets the blame but we still have to meet the deadline.
        Mike

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Help a Plumbing Engineer out

          Originally posted by Manning Formula View Post
          Hey guys,

          I am a 24 year old Plumbing Engineer from Knoxville. I've been doing design work for 6+ years at the same firm.
          You've been designing professionally since you were 18? Did you get your PE in high school?

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Help a Plumbing Engineer out

            spec'g pipe sizes which may exist in your world, but are very uncommon. 3½", 5", etc. In a really huge project, where all the material is probably going to be in factory direct truckload quanitities, this might make sense. But some small building....try to find 100 feet of 5" ABS or even cast iron.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Help a Plumbing Engineer out

              Originally posted by Plumbus View Post
              You've been designing professionally since you were 18? Did you get your PE in high school?
              Naw, he got that in elementary school. The high school was for his doctorate.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Help a Plumbing Engineer out

                You are doing fine. We will just do it the right way if you screw up the drawings
                sigpic

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Help a Plumbing Engineer out

                  Stop trying to cram 10 pounds of crap into a 5 pound box

                  Just because you can draw it with a pencil doesn't mean it will work in the real world.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Help a Plumbing Engineer out

                    Hats off to NHMaster ! Engineers work from books and theory. Those of us who work with our hands have to make your drawings into reality. If you could only spend a day in our shoes..... If you want to be a better engineer spend time in the field you will be a better man for it !

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Help a Plumbing Engineer out

                      I worked in the real world before I became an engineer, so i really dont know what to tell you other than spend time in the field and learn from the guys putting the stuff you draw together. Be understanding know that the picture may llok great but the real work of art comes after your designs are put together. keep your mouth shut ask questions and find the GOOD contractors to learn from there are some bad guys out there that will try to pull the wool over your eyes. Be wary but dont come off as a know it all, you dont your hands arent scarred your bones dont creak and you dont know how to wipe a lead bend. dont be afraid of new technologies such as propress or pex, research listen and learn. if you have any questions shoot me a PM and i will be happy to answer them. Read the forum, ask questions and just plain be a nice guy to the guys putting your designs together.- Rich

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Help a Plumbing Engineer out

                        Two words, "Site Verify" if you're designing a remodel don't assume the as-built plans are correct or even in the ball park. a 4 inch shift doesn't seem like a lot in the grand scheme of things until the plumber has to bust out 12 toilet flanges to shift them all 4 inches.
                        No, it's not rocket science, it's plumbing and unlike rocket science it requires a license.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Help a Plumbing Engineer out

                          Wow, ok. I sense a bit of hostility from some of you.

                          First... No, I have not been an engineer since I was 18, but I have been designing plumbing since I was 18. I went to college, got a degree, and just recently got my PE. I've designed plumbing the for the entirety of my short adult life.

                          Second... I do try to get as much time out in the field as possible, but sometimes it's difficult. Our office, in my opinion, does a much better job than other firms in our area, and I think that shows when you compare their client base to ours. Tomorrow, for example, I'm going to have a look around at a college that I did, and that will probably be the only time I go out there before I do a punchlist. I normally use up so much billable time designing jobs that I don't have much time to do field work, but luckily we have two guys who work with us who do nothing BUT field work, and one of them was a plumber for 56 years.

                          Third... I'd love to spend a day in your shoes. If I could do it all over again, I'd try to get on as an apprentice somewhere right out of high school. As a matter of fact, I'm taking plumbing courses right now, and I'm also a pretty good welder, with a few AWS certifications under my belt. I really do enjoy working with pipe and it's not too much of a stretch to imagine myself as a plumber one day. We'll see.

                          Fourth... I learned on my first day that 5" and 3.5" are big no no's.

                          Fifth... I really hope there aren't as many "I am a engineer, therefore I am God" types out there as you guys describe. There shouldn't be, because do you know how much you learn about plumbing engineering from a civil engineering degree? Absolutely none. You don't learn this stuff in college. I know for a fact that I'm never that way. Whenever I have a question, I don't call another engineer or ask anyone from the office... I call one of a few trusted plumbers I know. When I go out in the field and talk to plumbers, I think the most extensive thing I've ever asked them to do is to take down about 40' of armaflex and replace it with fiberglass like it says in the spec.

                          Now, some questions for you guys (keep the hints coming, though!)

                          What are your opinions about propress?

                          What about dielectric unions?

                          (This one i've been running into a lot lately)... Suppose you've got a 3" zurn (or equal!) floor drain up on the 2nd floor (this is the drain I use most often). The floor slab up there is 5". If you but the pvc trap fitting up as far as you can to the bottom of the slab... about how long is that trap from the very bottom to the bottom of the floor slab? I can't get a straight answer on this from anyone.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Help a Plumbing Engineer out

                            Originally posted by MoJourneyman View Post
                            Two words, "Site Verify" if you're designing a remodel don't assume the as-built plans are correct or even in the ball park. a 4 inch shift doesn't seem like a lot in the grand scheme of things until the plumber has to bust out 12 toilet flanges to shift them all 4 inches.
                            I am actually happy to say that I am very good at this. To me, the first rule of thumb on a remodel or addition is understanding how the existing plumbing system works, and how it will work in conjunction with the new one, as an entire system. My boss (also my dad) is a stickler for this. When I was first hired, my first task was tracking down every stick in a 13 story building for a massive renovation.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Help a Plumbing Engineer out

                              Originally posted by Manning Formula View Post
                              Wow, ok. I sense a bit of hostility from some of you.

                              First... No, I have not been an engineer since I was 18, but I have been designing plumbing since I was 18. I went to college, got a degree, and just recently got my PE. I've designed plumbing the for the entirety of my short adult life.

                              Second... I do try to get as much time out in the field as possible, but sometimes it's difficult. Our office, in my opinion, does a much better job than other firms in our area, and I think that shows when you compare their client base to ours. Tomorrow, for example, I'm going to have a look around at a college that I did, and that will probably be the only time I go out there before I do a punchlist. I normally use up so much billable time designing jobs that I don't have much time to do field work, but luckily we have two guys who work with us who do nothing BUT field work, and one of them was a plumber for 56 years.

                              Third... I'd love to spend a day in your shoes. If I could do it all over again, I'd try to get on as an apprentice somewhere right out of high school. As a matter of fact, I'm taking plumbing courses right now, and I'm also a pretty good welder, with a few AWS certifications under my belt. I really do enjoy working with pipe and it's not too much of a stretch to imagine myself as a plumber one day. We'll see.

                              Fourth... I learned on my first day that 5" and 3.5" are big no no's.

                              Fifth... I really hope there aren't as many "I am a engineer, therefore I am God" types out there as you guys describe. There shouldn't be, because do you know how much you learn about plumbing engineering from a civil engineering degree? Absolutely none. You don't learn this stuff in college. I know for a fact that I'm never that way. Whenever I have a question, I don't call another engineer or ask anyone from the office... I call one of a few trusted plumbers I know. When I go out in the field and talk to plumbers, I think the most extensive thing I've ever asked them to do is to take down about 40' of armaflex and replace it with fiberglass like it says in the spec.

                              Now, some questions for you guys (keep the hints coming, though!)

                              What are your opinions about propress?

                              What about dielectric unions?

                              (This one i've been running into a lot lately)... Suppose you've got a 3" zurn (or equal!) floor drain up on the 2nd floor (this is the drain I use most often). The floor slab up there is 5". If you but the pvc trap fitting up as far as you can to the bottom of the slab... about how long is that trap from the very bottom to the bottom of the floor slab? I can't get a straight answer on this from anyone.



                              You need to go purchase the specific drain and trap you describe. Or at least walk into the supplier that carries it with a tape measure.

                              That's one thing that might help you help others. Physically put your hands on anything you spec whenever possible. That will help put your mind into the installation problems that can arise.

                              Like drain & trap depths in a second floor slab.

                              J.C.

                              Comment

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