Each year Property Maintenance professionals take part in one of AMA's (Arizona Multi-housing Association) biggest events of the year!

"Maintenance Mania" is a competition in which apartment professionals from around the country face maintenance-focused challenges that test their skills and knowledge to earn the title of Maintenance Mania National Champion. This event takes place each year in November in Phoenix.

Rainforest Plumbing & Air will be offering two educational courses at the event.  Maintenance tips on plumbing and air conditioning will be taught by our on-staff experts.

This event is something you definitely do not want to miss. If you are a maintenance technician and you think you have what it takes, sign up today to compete and show off your skills!


A couple of weeks ago, Ike posted a nice piece on the basic job description and requirements of a property maintenance professional. After I read the post, I decided to do some research to find out just what it is that property management is looking for when they have you in for an interview. Turns out that there are some “unsaid” requirements, so that means pay extra attention- these are the most important. If you’re looking for a job in the multi-housing industry, here are 8 questions to ask yourself before you apply:

1. Are you experienced?

One thing that people sometimes forget is that property maintenance is so much more than fixing toilets or cleaning the pool. Properties such as apartment complexes are big so this job requires that you have a broad understanding of how maintenance is managed on a large-scale. It helps to have some experience working for an agency before trying to tackle an entire property on your own.

2. What is your skill level?

Maintenance is not a specialized field. If you only know how to take on HVAC, you’ll be in big trouble when the pipes start to burst in the winter months. Experience is everything when it comes to maintenance. Spread yourself out as much as possible but make sure that you are knowledgeable in areas such as plumbing, HVAC, and electrical. Basic drywall skills would also be very useful.

3. Does your expertise match their problems?

It pays to do a little research before you apply with a certain property. Oftentimes, an apartment complex will have one certain area (such as plumbing) that has chronic problems. This is typical for older complexes. Just like #2, a jack-of-all-trades is preferred but remember that places have their own specialized problems. Ask around and use it to your advantage.

4. Where do you live?

Sometimes, properties will hire maintenance managers who live right there on-site so. This is so that they will be in close contact in case something happens in the middle of the night. This is also quite rare. With that in mind, how close do you live to the property that you will be maintaining? Would you be readily available in case of emergency?

5. Will you be full- or part-time?

Again, this depends mostly on the property. Most properties in the greater Phoenix area and most parts of the Valley are generally very large and will require a full-time maintenance manager. It is a huge plus to property managers to have a maintenance manager who is on-call.

6. Can you provide references?

Also a huge plus. You should have some employer references attached with your resume. Properties are usually very familiar with other properties and if they notice that you used to work for a well-known property, they will be more likely to consider you for the job. References should be in letter form.

7. Do you have a Crimshield background certification?

Don’t know what Crimshield is? Crimshield is an Arizona-based company that performs background checks for service providers. Certified employees receive an identification card that lets tenants know that maintenance and other service providers are crime-free. Many companies are now demanding that employees are certified with Crimshield. Check it out:

8. Can you keep up with demand?

Some properties will want to hire maintenance manager to be responsible for more than one property. Would you be able to meet the demand of such a position?

Good luck and happy hunting!


The foundation is a vital part of a building's structure. It needs to be in good shape to protect the occupants as well as the investment in the property. Foundation problems left unchecked can become more expensive to repair as time goes on so catch it early. Structures in Arizona are especially vulnerable to foundation damage because of the expansive nature of the soil.

You should check foundations regularly. There are several things to look for when inspecting for foundation problems:

  1. Check for plants or grass being irrigated next to the foundation. 
  2. Walk around the perimeter checking for cracks in the stucco or footer. 
  3. Look for shifting wall connections such as at corners. 
  4. Check for exposed footers from stucco or siding damage. 
  5. Walk the inside of the property and check for drywall damage. 
  6. Check cracked tile grout lines or broken tile. 
  7. Check to see that interior and exterior doors open and close properly. 


Absorption Cycle:
Absorption chillers differ from mechanical vapor compression chillers in that they utilize a thermal or chemical process to produce the refrigeration effect necessary to provide chilled water. There is no mechanical compression of the refrigerant taking place within the machine as occurs within more traditional vapor compression type chillers. Most commercial absorption chillers utilize lithium bromide (a salt) and water as the fluid pair.

The metering (flow control) device inside a Carrier centrifugal chiller. Its unique design always feeds the cooler with liquid refrigerant, which has a much greater cooling capability than a gaseous refrigerant.

A piston type metering device that feeds the proper amount of liquid refrigerant into the evaporator.

Air Change:
The amount of air required to completely replace the air in a room or building; not to be confused with re-circulated air.

Air Conditioner:
Assembly of equipment for the simultaneous control of air temperature, relative humidity, purity, and motion.

Air Cooled:
Uses a fan to discharge heat from the condenser coil to the outdoors.

Air-Cooled System:
A type of air conditioning system that uses freon as a refrigerant and air as a condensing medium. Typically, the air-cooled condenser is located outside and refrigerant lines are piped to it from the indoor unit.

Air Diffuser:
Air distribution outlet or grille designed to direct airflow into desired patterns.

Air Flow:
The distribution or movement of air.

Air Handler:
The portion of the central air conditioning or heat pump system that moves heated or cooled air throughout a home's ductwork. In some systems a furnace handles this function.

Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE):
A rating that denotes the efficiency of gas heating equipment. It is the amount of heating your equipment delivers for every dollar spent on fuel. A higher rating indicates more efficient equipment. This rating is calculated in accordance with the Department of Energy test procedures.

Auto Changeover:
A control package that provides for automatic switching from a primary air conditioning system to a backup in the event of a failure of the primary system.

Balance Point:
An outdoor temperature, usually between 30° F and 45° F, at which a heat pump's output exactly equals the heating needs of the home. Below the balance point, supplementary electric resistance heat is needed to maintain indoor comfort.

An air handling device for moving air in a distribution system.

BTU (British Thermal Unit):
The standard of measurement used for measuring the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree (Fahrenheit). BTUH - The number of BTUs in an hour.

The abbreviation for British thermal units per hour. The amount of heat required to raise one pound of water one degree fahrenheit per hour, a common measure of heat transfer rate.

The ability of a heating or cooling system to heat or cool a given amount of space. For heating, this is usually expressed in BTU's. For cooling, it is usually given in tons.

Carbon Monoxide:
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas produced by burning any fuel. CO is poisonous and symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to those of the flu: headaches, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends a yearly, professional inspection.

Central Air Conditioner System:
System in which air is treated at a central location and carried to and from the rooms by one or more fans and a system of ducts.

Centrifugal Compressor:
A type of compressor used in vapor compression refrigeration cycles where a rotating impeller is the device which compresses the refrigerant vapor. The vapor is drawn into the impeller axially, and is discharged radially after energy is added to the vapor within the impeller.

CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute):
The abbreviation for cubic feet per minute, commonly used to measure the rate of air flow in an air conditioning system.

Amount of refrigerant in a system.

Chilled Water System:
A type of air conditioning system that has no refrigerant in the unit itself. The refrigerant is contained in a chiller, which is located remotely. The chiller cools water, which is piped to the air conditioner to cool the space.

Comfort Air Conditioning:
Comfort air conditioning systems are designed for the comfort of people, not the protection of computer-based electrical systems. Unlike people, computers generate dry (sensible) heat, but not humidity. Only about 60-70% of a comfort system's total capacity is dedicated to the removal of sensible heat, while 30-40% is for dehumidification. With a large percentage of their total capacity devoted to the removal of moisture, comfort systems can lower room humidity far below acceptable standards. A larger comfort system is required to obtain the same sensible capacity as a precision cooling system.

The pump that moves the refrigerant from the indoor evaporator to the outdoor condenser and back to the evaporator again. The compressor is often called "the heart of the system" because it circulates the refrigerant through the loop.

The process by which a gas is changed into a liquid at constant temperature by heat removal.

A device that transfers unwanted heat out of a refrigeration system to a medium (either air, water, or a combination of air and water) that absorbs the heat and transfers it to a disposal point. There are three types of condensers: air-cooled condensers, water-cooled condensers, and evaporative condensers. The evaporative condenser uses a combination of air and water as its condensing medium. Most residential systems have an air-cooled condenser.

Condenser Coil:
A series or network of tubes filled with refrigerant, normally located outside the home, that removes heat from the hot, gaseous refrigerant so that the refrigerant becomes liquid again.

Condensing Unit:
Part of a refrigerating mechanism which pumps vaporized refrigerant from the evaporator, compresses it, liquefies it in the condenser and returns it to the refrigerant control. The outdoor portion of a split system air conditioner contains the compressor and outdoor coil ignoring the reverse cycle operation, also the outdoor in a heat pump system.

COP (Coefficient of Performance):
This is a measure of the energy efficiency of a chiller.

Cooling Capacity:
A measure of the ability of a unit to remove heat from an enclosed space. COP - Coefficient of Performance of a heat pump means the ratio of the rate of useful heat output delivered by the complete heat pump unit (exclusive of supplementary heating) to the corresponding rate of energy input, in consistent units and under operating conditions.

Cooling Load:
Heat which flows into a space from outdoors and/or indoors.

Found in ductwork, this movable plate opens and closes to control airflow. Dampers are used effectively in zoning to regulate airflow to certain rooms.

Defrost Cycle:
The process of removing ice or frost buildup from the outdoor coil during the heating season.

The reduction of water vapor in air by cooling the air below the dew point; removal of water vapor from air by chemical means, refrigeration, etc.

Department of Energy (DOE):
A federal agency that sets industry efficiency standards and monitors the use of various energy sources.

Direct Expansion Systems:
One of two types of basic cooling media (the other is chilled water). Direct expansion systems utilize freon for cooling and dehumidification. The three most common methods of heat rejection are air cooled, water cooled and glycol cooled.

Direct Vent:
Pulls outside air for combustion and vents combustion gases directly outside.

Refers to a type of precision air conditioning system that discharges air downward, directly beneath a raised floor, commonly found in computer rooms and modern office spaces.

Downflow Furnace:
A furnace that pulls in return air from the top and expels warm air at the bottom.

A pipe or closed conduit made of sheet metal, fiberglass board, or other suitable material used for conducting air to and from an air handling unit.

Pipes or channels that carry air throughout a building.

In a chiller with a two-stage centrifugal compressor, the discharge from the first stage impeller and the inlet to the second stage impeller are at a pressure level approximately half way between the cooler pressure and condenser pressure. With this arrangement, an economizer may be used. This is a shell within which refrigerant liquid from the condenser drops down to the interstage pressure, flashing off some of the refrigerant which is drawn directly into the second stage impeller. This reduces the amount of refrigerant which has to be compressed by the first stage impeller, improving the refrigeration cycle efficiency.

Electronic Air Cleaner:
An electronic device that filters out large particles and contaminants in indoor air.  It then electronically pulls out tiny particles that have been magnetized, such as viruses and bacteria, drawing them to a collector plate.

Emergency Heat (Supplemental or Auxillary Heat):
The back-up heat built into a heat pump system.

Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER):
Means the ratio of the cooling capacity of the air conditioner in British Thermal Units per hour, to the total electrical input in watts under ARI-specified test conditions.

Heat content or total heat, including both sensible and latent heat. The amount of heat contained in a refrigerant at any given temperature with reference to -40°F.

Absorbs heat from the surrounding air or liquid and moves it outside the refrigerated area by means of a refrigerant. It is also known as a cooling coil, blower coil, chilling unit or indoor coil.

Evaporator Coil:
A series or network of tubes filled with refrigerant located inside the home that take heat and moisture out of indoor air as liquid refrigerant evaporates.

Fahrenheit (Represented as degrees "F"):
The scale of temperature measurement most commonly used in the United States of America.

A device used to remove dust and other particles from air for the purposes of reducing the load on the respiratory system and to protect the HVAC equipment. Filters vary greatly in particle arrestance; the higher the MERV rating, the better the filter.

Free Cooling System:
Typically a water cooled or glycol cooled system with an additional coil that provides chilled water cooling when the outdoor ambient is cold thereby reducing or eliminating compressor operation. Provides efficient system operation in Nothern climates.

Free Delivery:
There are no ducts and the unit may be installed in the field without ducts if needed. Ground-Source - The ground or soil below the frost line is being used as the heat source or heat sink for a heat pump.

A general term used to identify, any of a group of partially or completely halogenated simple hydrocarbons containing fluorine, chlorine or bromine, which are used as refrigerants.

That part of an environmental system which converts gas, oil, electricity or other fuel into heat for distribution within a structure.

In an absorption cycle, the vessel in which the lithium bromide solution is reconcentrated by boiling off the previously absorbed water.

Glycol-Cooled System:
A type of air conditioning system that uses freon as a refrigerant and a water/glycol solution as a condensing medium. Typically, the glycol-cooled condenser is located inside the air conditioner with the rest of the refrigeration components. Water/glycol is piped to the unit from a drycooler or other suitable source. The glycol keeps the solution from freezing during winter operation.

Ground Water-Source:
Water from an underground well is being used as the heat source or heat sink for a heat pump.

Heat Exchanger:
A device for the transfer of heat energy from the source to the conveying medium.

Heat Gain:
The amount of heat gained, measured in BTU's, from a space to be conditioned, at the local summer outdoor design temperature and a specified indoor design condition.

Heat Loss:
The amount of heat lost, measured in BTU's from a space to be conditioned, at the local winter outdoor design temperature and a specified indoor design condition.

Heat Pump:
An air conditioner that contains a valve that allows it to alternate between heating and cooling.

Heat Source:
A body of air or liquid from which heat is collected. With any heat pumps, the air outside the home is used as the heat source during the heating cycle.

Heat Transfer:
The movement of heat from one place to another, between two substances, or within a substance.

Heating Capacity:
The rate at which a specific device can add substantial heat to a substance, expressed in BTUh (British Thermal Units per hour).

Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF):
Means the total heating output of a heat pump in British Thermal Units during its normal usage period for heating divided by the total electrical energy input in watt-hours during the same period.

Horizontal Furnace:
A furnace that lies on its side, pulling in return air from one side and expelling warm air from the other.

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning.

The process of adding moisture to the air within a space.

A device designed to regulate humidity input by reacting to changes in the moisture content of the air.

The amount of moisture in the air. Air conditioners remove moisture for added comfort.

Indoor Unit:
This is usually located inside the house and contains the indoor coil, fan, motor, and filtering device, sometimes called the air handler.

Indoor Coil:
Refrigerant containing portion of a fan coil unit similar to a car radiator, typically made of several rows of copper tubing with aluminum fins.

Air flow into a space usually through walls and leaks around doors and windows.

Any material that slows down the transfer of heat.

Integrally Controlled Motor (ICM):
A variable-speed motor that operates at low RPM when possible for efficiency and quiet operation. ICM motors are more than 90% efficient versus 60% efficiency for conventional motors.

Isolation Valves:
Valves used for the transfer and isolation of refrigerant charge in the cooler or condenser, allowing refrigerant to be stored inside a chiller during servicing.

(K) Factor:
The insulating value of any material. Also known as conductivity.

Kilowatt (kW):
Equal to 1,000 watts. Kilowatt-hour (kWh) - A common unit of electrical consumption measured by the total energy created by one kilowatt in one hour.

Latent Cooling Capacity:
An A/C system's capability to remove moisture from the air.

Latent Heat:
The heat energy needed to change the state of a substance (i.e.: from a liquid to a gas) but not it's temperature.

An abbreviation for a screen type - Liquid Crystal Display.

Load Calculation:
A mathematical design tool used to determine the heat gain and heat loss in a building so that properly sized air conditioning and heating equipment may be installed.

Matched System:
A heating and cooling system comprised of products that have been certified to perform at promised comfort and efficiency when used together, and used according to design and engineering specifications.

Microprocessor Controls:
A control system that uses computer logic to operate and monitor an air conditioning system. Microprocessor controls are commonly used on modern precision air conditioning systems to maintain precise control of temperature and humidity and to monitor the units operation.

Natural-Draft Furnace:
A furnace in which the natural flow of air from around the furnace provides the air to support combustion. It also depends on the pressure created by the heat in the flue gases to force them out through the vent system.

National Fire Protection Association.

Operating Cost:
The day-to-day cost of running your home comfort equipment, based on daily energy use.

Outdoor Coil/Condensing Unit:
The portion of a heat pump or central air conditioning system that is located outside the home and functions as a heat transfer point for collecting heat from and dispelling heat to the outside air.

Package System:
A piece of air conditioning and heating equipment where all components are located in one cabinet. Used occasionally in residential applications, the package unit is installed either beside or on top of the home.

Packaged Unit:
A self-contained heating and/or air conditioning system.

Payback Analysis:
Overall measure of the efficiency and value of your home comfort system.  By combining your purchase price and ongoing operating costs, a payback analysis determines the number of years required before monthly energy savings offset the purchase price.

Purge Device:
A device which removes air and water vapor from the refrigerant inside a chiller. A purge is a necessity in negative pressure designs, but is not necessary in positive pressure designs where air and water vapor are kept out of the system by the internal pressure

A substance that produces a refrigerating effect while expanding or vaporizing.

Refrigerant Lines:
Set of two copper lines connecting the outdoor unit and the indoor unit.

Combination grille and damper assembly covering an air opening or end of an air duct.

Relative Humidity:
The ratio of the amount of vapor contained in the air to the greatest amount the air could hold at that temperature. Normally expressed as a percentage.

Return Air:
Air drawn into a heating unit after having been circulated from the heater's output supply to a room.

Reversing Valve:
A device in a heat pump that reverses the flow of refrigerant as the system is switched from cooling to heating.

SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio):
A rating that denotes the efficiency of air conditioning equipment. It is the amount of cooling your equipment delivers for every dollar spent on electricity. It is the ratio of cooling delivered by a system, measured in BTUs, to the dollar cost of the electricity to run the system, as measured in watt-hours. This ratio is determined using specified federal test procedures. The higher the SEER, the more efficient the unit. The more efficient the unit, the lower the operating cost.

Sensible Cooling Capacity:
An A/C system's capability to remove heat from the air. (lower the temperature).

Sensible Heat:
Heat energy that causes a rise or fall in the temperature of a gas, liquid or solid when added or removed from that material. Sensible heat changes the temperature by changing the speed at which the molecules move.

The temperature to which a thermostat is set for desired comfort level.

Single Package:
A year-round heating and air conditioning system that has all of the components completely encased in one unit outside the home.

Split System:
A central air conditioner consisting of two or more major components. The system usually consists of a compressor-containing unit and condenser, installed outside the building and a non-compressor - containing air handling unit installed within the building. This is the most common type of system installed in a home.

Storage Tank:
A steel shell in which the refrigerant charge for a chiller may be temporarily stored while the chiller is serviced.

Supercooled Liquid:
Liquid refrigerant cooled below its saturation point.

This is a section of some condensers in which the temperature of the condensed refrigerant liquid is reduced. This improves the energy efficiency of the chiller.

Creating a drop in temperature by removing sensible heat from a refrigerant liquid.

Superheated Vapor:
Refrigerant vapor heated beyond its saturation point.

Creating a rise in temperature by adding heat energy to a refrigeration vapor.

Supplementary Heat:
The auxiliary or emergency heat, usually electrical resistance heat, provided at temperatures below a heat pump's balance point.

A device in a heat pump that reverses the flow of refrigerant as the system is switched from cooling to heating.

The measure of the intensity of heat that a substance possesses.

Highly sophisticated programmable thermostat that senses the outdoor temperature, indoor air temperature, and indoor relative humidity. A microprocessor communicates with the heating and cooling equipment to determine the most efficient way to achieve perfect comfort. When used with a variable speed blower motor, this cite can reduce humidity even when cooling isn't necessary (as when the indoor temperature is 70 degrees but relative humidity is high, eg, when it's raining).

A temperature control device, typically found on a wall inside that consists of a series of sensors and relays that monitor and control the functions of a heating and cooling system.

The unit of measure used in air conditioning to describe the cooling capacity of a system. One ton of cooling is based on the amount of heat needed to melt one ton (2000 lbs.) of ice in a 24 hour period. One ton of cooling is equal to 12,000 Btu/hr.
A type of air conditioning system that discharges air into the conditioned space via a top-mounted discharge plenum or through an overhead duct system.

Upflow Furnace:
A furnace that pulls return air in from the bottom and expels warm air from the top.

Vacuum Pump:
A pump used to remove air and moisture from a refrigeration system at a pressure below atmospheric pressure.

Vapor Barrier:
A moisture-impervious layer applied to the surfaces enclosing a humid space to prevent moisture travel to a point where it may condense due to lower temperature.

Vapor Seal:
A vapor seal is an essential part of preventing moisture infiltration into or migration out of a critical space, such as a data processing center or other room that contains sensitive electronic instrumentation. Essentially, a vapor seal is a barrier that prevents air, moisture, and contaminants from migrating through tiny cracks or pores in the walls, floor, and ceiling into the critical space. Vapor barriers may be created using plastic film, vapor-retardant paint, vinyl wall coverings and vinyl floor systems, in combination with careful sealing of all openings (doors and windows) into the room.

The process of supplying or removing air, by natural or mechanical means, to or from any space. Such air may or may not have been conditioned.

A ventilator captures heating or cooling energy from stale indoor air and transfers it to fresh incoming air.
Water Cooled System:
A type of air conditioning system that uses freon as a refrigerant and water as a condensing medium. Typically, the water-cooled condenser is located inside the air conditioner with the rest of the refrigeration components. Water is piped to the unit from a cooling tower or other suitable source.

Water Source:
Water is being used as the heat source or heat sink for a heat pump. Sources of underground water are wells and sources of surface water are lakes, large ponds, and rivers.

A unit of power that equals one joule per second. Named after James Watt.

Air Conditioner which uses gas or oil for heating.
Zone System:
A method of dividing a home into zones and enabling you to control the amount of comfort provided to each.
The practice of providing independent heating and/or cooling to different areas in a structure. Zoning typically utilizes a system controller, zoning dampers controlled by a thermostat in each zone, and a bypass damper to regulate static pressure in the supply duct.


ABS - Aristocraft bristone styrine, a rigid black plastic pipe used for drain, waste, and vent lines.

Aerator - A device screwed into the end of a faucet spout that mixes air into flowing water, and controls flow to reduce splashing. It sometimes contains a baffle to reduce flow to 2.5 gpm.

Air Lock - Blockage in the flow of liquid, esp. on the suction side of a pump caused by an air bubble in the line.

Angle Stop - A shutoff valve between the water pipes and a faucet. Its inlet connects to the water supply pipe in a wall, and its outlet angles up 90 degrees toward the faucet. These are usually used to shut off water to a fixture in case of an emergency repair rather than daily usage.

Anode Rod - A sacrificial rod installed in a water heater that protects the tank from corrosion, helping to extend the life of the tank.

Anti-Siphon - Preventive device for the backflow of liquid into a system. Used on sprinkler systems to prevent water from trickling back into the supply that is feeding it.

Back Flow Preventer - A device to prevent water from traveling from one system back into any part of the main distribution system, usually by siphoning, esp. into a potable water supply. This is generally required for sprinkler systems, handheld showers, pullout faucet spouts, kitchen sprayers, etc.

Back Pressure - Pressure that resists the flow of fluid in a piping system.

Backwater Valve - Sewer line valve that prevents sewage from flowing back into the house.

Ball Check Valve - A valve that uses a ball to seal against a seat to stop flow in one direction.

Ballcock - The fill valve that controls the flow of water from the water supply line into a gravity-operated toilet tank. It is controlled by a float mechanism that floats in the tank water. When the toilet is flushed, the float drops and opens the ballcock, releasing water into the tank and/or bowl. As the water in the tank is restored, the float rises and shuts off the ballcock when the tank is full.

Basin Wrench - A wrench with a long handle with jaws mounted on a swivel that allows the jaws to reach and handle nuts to fasten faucets to a previously installed sink.

Blowbag - A drain-cleaning device consisting of a rubber bladder with a hose fitting on one end and a nozzle on the other. The device attaches to a water hose and is inserted into a clogged drainpipe. As water is introduced, it expands to grip the pipe, and releases pulsating bursts of water through the nozzle, forcing water through the pipe to clear the obstruction.

Branch - Any part of a drain system other than the main, riser, or stack.

Branch Vent - A vent connecting one or more individual vents with a vent stack.

BTU - British Thermal Unit - A unit of heat energy required to raise the temperature of 1 lb. of water 1 degree Fahrenheit.

Catch Basin - Large underground container, with a grate on the top, for collection of storm water run-off. It catches or collects dirt and other debris and prevents them from polluting streams and lakes.

Centerset - Style of bathroom faucet having combined spout and handles, with handles 4 inches apart, center-to-center. Also a single-handle faucet installed on 4 inches center-to-center faucet holes.

Check Valve - A type of backflow preventer installed in a pipe run that allows water to flow in only one direction.

Circuit Vent - Plumbing drainage system vertical vent which is run from the last two traps on a horizontal drain line to the main vent stack of a building drainage system.

Cistern - Rainwater storage tank, often underground.

Cleanout Plug - A plug in a trap or drain pipe that provides access for the purpose of clearing an obstruction.

Closet - Toilet.

Closet Auger - A flexible rod with a curved end used to access the toilet's built-in trap and remove clogs.

Closet Bend - A curved fitting mounted immediately below the toilet that connects the closet flange to the toilet drain.

Closet Flange - An anchoring ring that attaches to the closet bend and secured to the floor. The heads of closet bolts, used to secure the toilet in place, insert into slots in the closet flange.

Cock - faucet or valve for regulating the flow of water.

Common Vent - Building drain system vertical vent which connects two or more fixture branches on the same level.

Compression Fitting - A kind of tubing or pipe connection where a nut, and then a sleeve or ferrule is placed over a copper or plastic tube and is compressed tightly around the tube as the nut is tightened, forming a positive grip and seal without soldering. Also a flexible connector that has a nut and gasket designed to attach directly to an SAE standard compression thread, without the use of a sleeve or ferrule.

Compression Valve - A type of valve that is often used for water faucets. It is opened or closed by raising or lowering a horizontal disk by a threaded stem.

Coupling - Vent pipe hood, which protects it from the elements.

Culvert - A pipe-like construction of concrete that passes under a road to allow drainage.

Desanco Fitting - A type of compression adapter that connects tubular brass fittings to PVC pipe.

Diaphragm - Flexible membrane in a valve that deflects down onto a rigid area of the valve body to regulate water flow from the supply lines. This eliminates the possibility of debris build-up within the valve.

Dip Tube - Tube inside the water heater that sends cold water to the bottom of the tank.

Direct Tap - Clamping device that allows a branch line to be drilled and tapped off a main line.

Discharge Tube - Outlet tube that connects a disposer or sump pump to the drain line.

Dishwasher Tailpiece - A flanged adapter connecting a basket strainer to the drainpipe with a dishwasher inlet.

Disposal Field - A series of trenches conveying the effluent from the septic tank laid in such a manner that the flow will be distributed with reasonable uniformity into natural soil.

Diverter - Valves which direct water to various outlets. They are used in showers, tubs, bidets, and sinks.

Drip Leg - A stub end pipe placed at a low point in the gas piping to collect condensate and permit its removal.

Drum Trap - An obsolete, non-vented drain lead or cast iron canister trap formerly used in sewer lines.

Duo Valve - A twin valve (hot & cold) with a single on/off lever used for washing machine boxes.

E. Coli - common abbreviation of Escherichia Coli. One of the members of the coliform groups of bacteria indicating fecal contamination.

Earthquake Strap - A metal strap used to secure a water heater to the house frame or foundation.

Efficiency - A product's ability to utilize input energy, expressed as a percentage.

Effluent - Septic system liquid waste.

Escutcheon - A decorative metal flange or trim shield beneath a faucet handle that covers the faucet stem and the hole in the fixture or wall.

Expansion Tank - A tank designed to absorb excess pressure due to thermal expansion (e.g. closed system).

Fall/Flow - The proper slope or pitch of a pipe for adequate drainage.

Female Fitting - A fitting that receives a pipe or fitting. A fitting into which another fitting is inserted.

Finish Plumbing - Installation of plumbing fixtures to make the system usable.

Flapper Valve - The part on the bottom of the toilet tank that opens to allow water to flow from the tank into the bowl.

Float Ball - The floating ball connected to the ballcock inside the tank that rises or falls with changing water levels in the tank, and actuates or shuts off the ballcock as needed.

Floor Flange - A fitting that connects a toilet to a floor drain.

Flushometer - Toilet valve that automatically shuts off after it meters a certain amount of water flow.

Flushometer Tank System - Toilet flushing system that uses supply water pressure to compress water to provide a pressurized flush as opposed to a gravity flush.

Flux - Paste applied to copper pipes and fittings before soldering to help the fusion process and prevent oxidation.

Footprint - The area of floor space taken up by a water heater or other appliance.

French Drain - A covered ditch containing a layer of fitted or loose stone or other pervious material.

Gas Cock - Plug valve installed the main gas line and an appliance.

Gas Control - Device used to regulate gas pressure on a water heater.

Gate - A device that controls the flow in a conduit, pipe, or tunnel.

Gate Diverter - The pop-up lever on a tub faucet that activates the diverter valve.

Gravity Operated Toilet - A toilet that relies on the natural downward pressure of water in a toilet tank to flush the toilet effectively.

Gray Water - Waste water from sinks, showers, and bathtubs, but not toilets.

Horizontal Branch - Lateral drain pipes that run from plumbing fixtures to the waste stack in a building or in the soil.

Horizontal Run - The horizontal distance between the point where fluid enters a pipe and the point at which it leaves.

Hose Bibb - An outdoor faucet, also used to supply washing machines.

House Trap - U-shaped fitting with two adjacent cleanout plugs visible at floor level if main drain runs under floor.

Hubless (No-Hub) - Cast iron drainage pipe with neoprene gaskets and clamps.

Hydronic - System of forced hot water.

Indirect Wastes - Waste pipe used to convey gray water by discharging it into a plumbing fixture such as a floor drain.

Instantaneous Water Heater - A type of water heater that heats water as it flows through a heat exchanger coil.

Jet - An orifice or other feature of a toilet that is designed to direct water into the trapway quickly to start the siphon action.

Johnni-bolts - Closet bolts, used to mount toilet bowls to the closet flange.

Knockout Plug - PVC test plug.

Lavatory (Lav) - A fixed bowl or basin with running water and drainage for washing. Bathroom sink.

Leach Field - Porous soil area, through which septic tank leach lines run, emptying the treated waste.

Leader - Pipe carrying rainwater to the ground or sewer.

Lock Nut - Nut fitted into a piece of pipe and screwed onto another pipe to join the two pieces.

Main - The primary artery of supply of the water supply or drain system in which all the branches connect. In the case of drains, known as the Main Vent.

Male Threads - Threads on the outside of pipes and fittings.

Malleable Fittings - Fittings made of metal which is soft and pliable.

Manifold - A fitting that connects a number of branches to the main; serves as a distribution point.

Mechanicals - The wiring, plumbing and heating and cooling systems in a building; also the components with moving parts such as furnaces, plumbing fixtures, etc.

Multi-Stage Pump - A pump that has more than one impeller.

Nipple - A short length of pipe installed between couplings or other fittings.

No-Hub Connector - A connector for no-hub iron pipe consisting of a rubber sleeve and a stainless steel band secured by hose clamps. A variation, a neoprene sleeve with two adjustable steel bands, is used for connecting dissimilar materials, as when connecting new plastic pipe to an existing cast-iron drainpipe.

O-Ring - Round rubber washer used to create a watertight seal, chiefly around valve stems.

Oakum - Loosely woven hemp rope that has been treated with oil or other waterproofing agent; it is used to caulk joints in a bell and spigot pipe and fittings.

Outlet Sewer - Pipe section in a septic system which runs between the septic tank and the drainage field.

Packing - Fibrous material that is used on faucets to prevent leaks.

Packing Nut - Nut that holds the stem of a faucet in position & holds the packing material.

Peak Hour Demand - Time when the largest demand for hot water is needed.

Petcock - A valve device put on water lines for drainage purposes. Frequently found on swamp coolers, refrigerator water lines, etc.

Pipe Dope - Slang for pipe-joint compound. Substance applied to threaded fittings to create a watertight seal.

Pitch - Downward slope of a drain pipe in the direction of the water flow.

Plumb - Precisely vertical. Also to test for, or to make vertical. Also to perform plumbing work.

Plumber's Putty - Pliable, popular putty used to seal joints between drain pieces and fixture surfaces.

Plumbing Tree - Prefabricated set of drain waste, vent, and supply lines.

Pop-Up Drain - Type of drain assembly for lavatory and bath. When a lavatory lift rod or bath overflow plate lever is lifted, the pop-up drain closes so the lavatory or tub retains water.

Port - An opening in a burner head through which gas or an air-gas mixture is discharged for ignition.

Positive Displacement Pump - Called a PD pump. Gear, sliding vane, progressive cavity, lobe etc. the capacity determined by the pump speed. The maximum head is determined by the horsepower available and the casing strength.

Pressure Balance Valve - Shower mixing valve that automatically maintains balance between incoming hot and cold water supplies by immediately regulating fluctuations in pressure. As a result, temperature remains constant, though the outlet pressure may drop. Also known as an anti-scald valve.

Pressure Tank - Device used to pump water from a well.

Pressure Tubing - Tubing used to conduct fluids under pressure or at elevated temperatures or both, and produced to stricter tolerances than pipe.

PVC - Polyvinyl chloride. A rigid white or cream-colored plastic pipe used in non-pressure systems, such as drainage, waste, and vent systems.

Rated Storage Volume - Quantity of water stored in a tank.

Reamer - A grinding tool used to level or remove burrs from valve seats in faucets so that the valve stem will fit properly.

Recovery Capacity - The amount of water in gallons per hour raised 100 degrees F at a given thermal efficiency and BTU per hour input.

Reducer - A fitting that connects pipes of different sizes together.

Return Circulation System - Tempered water from or near the point of usage which eliminates waste of hot water used for long runs and adds storage to the system.

Revent - Pipe installed specifically to vent a fixture trap. Connects with the vent system above the fixture.

Reverse Trap Water Closet - A water closet having a siphonic trapway at the rear of the bowl, and integral flushing rim and jet.

Rigid Pipe - Pipe designed to transmit the backfill load to the foundation beneath the pipe. Rigid pipe must be supported on the bottom portion of the pipe.

Rim Holes - A series of small holes in the underside of a toilet rim, around the circumference of the bowl. Incoming water flows down into the bowl through these holes, creating a rinse effect or wash over the entire inner surface of the bowl.

Riser - A vertical metal or plastic tube or assembly that connects a faucet to the water supply stop valve. Usually made of copper. Metal Flex Risers are corrugated to facilitate bending. Also a supply line that rises from one story to the next.

Roof Flashing - Sheet metal installed at any break in a shingled roofline to prevent leaks. Also around sewer vents, fluepipes.

Rough-In - Installation of the drain, waste, vent, and supply lines in a structure to the proposed location of each fixture.

Rough-In Dimensions - The distance from a finished wall or floor to the center of the waste or supply opening or mounting holes on a plumbing fixture.

Run - A complete or secondary section of pipe that extends from supply to fixture or drain to stack.

Saddle Valve - A valve mounted on a pipe run by a clamping device, or fitting that taps into the side of a pipe, used to make quick connection to an existing line to provide a water supply for a low-demand device.

Sanitary Sewer - House drain that carries wastewater away from the house to a sewer system or septic tank.

Self-Rimming Sink - Sink with no metal ring that has a built-in lip of the same material which supports it in the vanity top.

Service Entrance - Pipe connecting the water company piping to the water meter.

Setting - Pumps' vertical distance in feet from the top of the well to the top of the pump.

Shroud - Color-matched component under a wall-mount lavatory that covers the drain outlet for aesthetic purposes.

Siphon-Vortex Water Closet - A toilet having a trapway at the rear of the bowl, integral flushing rim, and a water supply system with or without a jet, which does not feed directly into the trap.

Sleeve - Pipe which is passed through a wall for the purpose of inserting another pipe through it.

Slip Joint - A connection made with compression fittings.

Soil Stack - Largest vertical drain line to which all branch waste lines connect. This line carries waste to the sewer line.

Solder - Metal alloy that is melted to create a fused joint between metal pieces. Also the act of melting solder into the joint.

Spud - A threaded opening on the water heater tank. Also a tool for digging having characteristics of a shade and chisel.

Stack - The vertical main in the drain, waste, and vent system, extending one or more stories.

Stand Pipe - Open vertical pipe that receives water from a washing machine. Also the vertical pipe run supplying water to a fire sprinkler system; also large vertical pipe into which water is pumped in order to produce a desired pressure; a high vertical pipe or reservoir that is used to secure a uniform pressure in a water-supply system.

Static Lift - The vertical distance between source and discharge water levels in a pump installation.

Stop Valve - The shutoff valve under sinks and toilets. Allows water supply to be cut off to one fixture without affecting the water supply to other fixtures.

Straight Cross - Fitting that connects four pipes of the same diameter.

Sump - A pit or pool for draining, collecting, or storing water. A chamber which provides water to the pump.

Sweating - Slang term for soldering. Also formation of condensation on the outside of pipes or toilet tanks.

T & P Valve - Temperature & pressure relief valve. A safety device used to expel excess pressure or heat from inside a tank.

Tail Pipe - The pipe added below the jet assembly, in a weak well application.

Tailpiece - Section of pipe that runs between a fixture outlet and the trap.

Tank - Fixture reservoir for flush water. On a conventional toilet, the ballcock, flush valve, and trip lever are installed in the tank. A tank lid closes the top tank opening.

Tank Cross - A double-tee-shaped fitting installed between a shallow well pump and the bladder tank with integrated valve and gauge fittings, and an outlet for a pressure-relief valve.

Tap Tee - Cast iron tee with a threaded female side inlet.

Thermocouple - Small electric generator. Electron flow between the hot junction of 1200 degrees F and cold junction of 600 degrees F creates millivoltage.

Thermostatic Valve - Pressure-balancing shower mixing valve with automatic temperature control. When temperature or pressure fluctuations occur at the water inlets, a thermal actuator adjusts the hot and cold ratio to maintain the original temperature setting.

Trap - Curved section of drain line that prevents sewer odors from escaping into the atmosphere. All fixtures that have drains must have a "P" trap installed. A toilet is the only plumbing fixture with an "S" trap.

Trap Arm - The waste arm portion of a drainage trap.

Trap Dip - The U-bend portion of a drainage trap.

Trap Primer - A small feeder line connecting the cold water line directly to the drainage trap, which releases a small amount of water to the trap should it run dry to maintain the water seal.

Trap Seal - Height of water in a toilet bowl "at rest.". It provides the water seal which prevents sewer gases from entering the home. It is measured from the top of the dam down to the inlet of the trapway. Also referred to as deep seal.

Trapway - Channel in a toilet that connects the bowl to the waste outlet. It is where the siphonic action takes place. The trapway is measured in terms of the largest diameter ball which can pass through it. Also called the passageway.

Trip Lever - Flush handle and actuating arm on a toilet tank. Also the lever that opens and closes the drain on the bathtub waste and overflow.

Uni-flex - One piece stop and riser combination. One-piece supply.

Union - Three piece fitting that joins two sections of pipe, but allows them to be disconnected without cutting the pipe. Used primarily with steel pipe; never in a DWV system.

Usable Storage - Percentage of hot water that can be drawn from a tank before the temperature drops to a point that it is no longer considered hot.

Vacuum Breaker - An anti-siphon device that prevents the backflow of contaminated water into the water supply system.

Valve Dressing - Resurfacing a worn valve seat with a special tool. Stops leaks by providing a smooth sealing surface. Applies only to older compression style faucets.

Valve Seat - The non-moving part of a valve. Water flow is stopped when the moveable portion of the valve comes in contact with the valve seat.

Vent - A pipe that allows air into a drain system to balance the air pressure, preventing water in the traps from being siphoned off.

Vent Header - A vent pipe into which several vents connect. The vent pipe leads to the vent stack and out of the building.

Vent Stack - Upper portion of the soil stack above the topmost fixture through which gases and odors escape.

Venturi - A short tube with a tapered constriction in the middle that causes an increase in the velocity of flow of a fluid and a corresponding decrease in fluid pressure and that is used for creating a suction in a vacuum pump.

Viscosity - The resistance of fluids to flow, due to internal forces and friction between molecules, which increases as its temperature decreases.

Vitreous China - Ceramic materials fired at high temperature to form a non-porous body, having exposed surfaces coated with ceramic glaze fused to the body. This is used to form bathroom fixtures such as toilets, bidets, and lavs.

Washdown Water Closet - Water closet having a siphon trapway at the front of the bowl, and integral flushing rim.

Waste & Overflow - Drain assembly for a bathtub. The outlet at the top removes the overflow water during tub filling and the drain at the bottom removes wastewater when the tub is drained.

Waste Arm - Drain extension pipe, usually to extend a sink drain into a wall.

Widespread - A style of bathroom lavatory faucet having separate spout and handles, usually 8" from center of handle to handle.

Yoke - Usually a brass casting that holds both the hot and cold valves and the mixing chamber for the water. May also refer to an assembly of copper or other metal which serves the same function.