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A plumber placed a shut-off valve with a bleeder port under the vanity in our upstairs bathroom. He used this valve to feed an outdoor hose bib. The plumber left the bleeder port in the open position. We turned on the valve to use our garden hose and the next day we heard a water dripping sound downstairs (the open drain leaked water down to the bottom floor and flooded it out).

Is placing a shut-off valve upstairs under a vanity to feed an outside hose bib against the building code?

Should we accept a solution of replacing the shut-off with a drain with one without a drain, and keep the plastic pipe in?

Or should the plumber be required to place the shut-off valve downstairs in utility room where there is a drain?

The entire house was done with copper pipe, the only place plastic pipe was used was to feed the outside faucet from the vanity in the upstairs bathroom.

Shouldn't builders be required to do the entire job with the material they started out with?

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  • I changed outside faucet to hose bib but it occurs to me that it may be a regular faucet. If not then Perhaps a frost free hose bib will be a better option. – Alaska Man Apr 7 at 18:34
  • The whole "feed the outside faucet from the vanity in the upstairs bathroom" sounds strange to me, to be honest. The utility room mentioned would seem a much more likely place. I don't know that any code was violated; rather it sounds to me like this was a mid-build change and not in the original plan. Whether the valve goes where you want it or where it is convenient depends on how much you are willing to pay (assuming it is possible to put it where you want it), especially if it was a late change request... – Jimmy Fix-it Apr 8 at 0:03
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Drains on the inside valve for outside faucets are indeed normally open for the winter to prevent freezing.

You close them when you turn on the faucet in the spring - evidently you didn't look when you turned the valve on?

Builders are not required to use any particular sort of pipe, so long as it meets code, unless otherwise specified in the contract.

Plastic pipe (especially PEX) is usually preferable for outside faucets, as it's less prone to burst in a freeze event.

Code does not particularly care where your outside faucet is fed from. If you wanted it fed from a different location, that should also have been specified in the contract. If it was not specified, the plumber presumably took whatever path was easiest given access to plumbing to supply water and specified location of the outside faucet.

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  • The plumber did not even explain to us that there was a drain under the vanity in the upstairs washroom. We were unaware and were told by the builder to turn on the valve under the vanity to get water to the outside facet. Now our entire downstairs is damaged. If we did not know about a drain and were not told, how can we be responsible? And we have the very email the builder sent telling us to turn on the valve with no mention at all of the drain. Wouldn't common sense dictate that drains should be located downstairs so if there is an incident the damage is minimal. The code is wrong. – william Terrance Cole Apr 7 at 17:26
  • TBH, @williamTerranceCole, I'm surprised that there's a drain, especially since the supply comes from so far above ground level. Normally, I simply shut off the inside valve then open the sillcock to drain the line between the two. This has always been sufficient to prevent freezing at my house in the upper Midwest, and my sillcock is only an inch or so below the shutoff. – FreeMan Apr 7 at 17:31
  • Is your "upstairs bathroom" higher than the outside tap? Aside from causing you confusion, it's fairly useless to put a bleed drain for an outside tap at a level higher than the tap. The tap can drain itself and the extra drain just adds another point of future failure. – jay613 Apr 7 at 18:50
  • To Freeman. The plumber had a 16 inch frost-free valve installed though the frost wall to the facet in the garage. This valve was closed. I suppose the water came down and built up till it got upstairs and leaked through the open bleeder-valve. – william Terrance Cole Apr 8 at 13:25
  • To Jay613: You are exactly right. The bleeder-valve was completely unnecessary and created a problem that didn't exist. – william Terrance Cole Apr 8 at 13:29
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You've mentioned the shutoff is "upstairs" but I couldn't infer the elevation of the outdoor faucet. I presume it is a few feet above outdoor ground level and that "upstairs" is several feet higher than that.

In this case the "drain" on the shutoff is not a drain at all. (I'd call it a bleeder, by the way.) Instead it would be intended to let air into the pipe that feeds the outdoor faucet -- water should never come out of this port so there's no need for it to be located in a place where there's a floor drain.

Winter shutdown procedure would be something like this:

  1. Close shutoff valve
  2. Open outdoor faucet
  3. Open "drain" aka bleeder on the shutoff
  4. Air entering at the bleeder allows gravity to pull water down the pipe to the outdoors. With the water drained out the pipe and outdoor faucet are prepared for freezing weather.

Spring startup procedure:

  1. Close the bleeder valve
  2. Open the shutoff valve
  3. Close the outdoor faucet
  4. Check for drips at the shutoff and bleeder port

I'm afraid the plumber probably has not done any work wrong. The situation is likely a result of failed communication and/or assumption on his part that you would already know what to do with a bleeder port. It's one of those unfortunate learning-through-error experiences of home ownership. :-(

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