Given the ensuing discussions from the eye (and areola) opening WYSK article, Breastgate, and all this Facebook nipple censorship nonsense, it reminded me that the innocent little nipple – victim of censorship and scrutiny – is also a formal plumbing term. A 1-inch nipple, a run of nipples, “You need a longer nipple” – all proper plumbing lingo.
Then it dawned on me, there are many terms in plumbing that sound sexual, nasty, rude, even sexist, but in fact are not. I thought it would be a good idea for WYSK readers to be hip to this jargon, and so I give you my Adult Plumbing Glossary…
10 Rude Sounding Terms That Are Proper Plumbing Lingo
Ballcock – a valve type mechanism that controls the refilling of water in a tank, namely a toilet tank. Also know as a fill valve, float valve, et al.
Blowbag – used as a drain opening device, this rubber bladder with a garden hose attachment is pushed down into a drainpipe, and as it fills with water the bladder expands, eventually forcing pulsating water through the pipe, ultimately clearing the clog. Also known as a blowfish.
Dope – a paste product that is brushed on threaded pipe ends to help create a seal. An alternate to pipe dope is Teflon tape, which is wound around a threaded end before attaching a fitting.
Lube an O-ring – used to help create a seal, a special lubricant is applied to rubber/neoprene O-rings and gaskets, typically found in faucet valves. Note: these lubricants are silicone based, not petroleum based (such as petroleum jelly or plumber’s grease). Petroleum products will degrade rubber, ultimately causing leaks as opposed to preventing them.
Male End/Female End – any pipe or fitting end is typically labeled as male or female, meaning that it is designed to either receive something in it (female) or insert into something (male). For example, a female fitting, threaded on the inside of its opening, will receive a male pipe end that’s threaded on the outside.
Nipple – referring to a short piece of pipe, usually threaded, and added to extend a pipe to attach a fitting, bringing it to a length necessary to complete the line. A “run of nipples” is a set of various short pipe lengths you can purchase in a pack to have on hand that are readily used on plumbing jobs.
Reamer – a tool or action that prepares an end of a pipe to receive another fitting, usually smoothing or cleaning it in order to create a new surface/end.
Sweating Pipe – referring to joining pipe with fittings using a torch, flux, and solder. This method is used to run a line of copper pipes for water lines. The “sweating” refers to the drips of solder than will run down the pipe as it’s heated with the torch.
Tailpiece – a length of drainpipe that runs between a fixture (such as a sink) and the P-trap (“p” shaped pipe under the sink).
Self-Centering Screw Hole Locator (also known as my ex-boyfriend) – a carpentry term, this is a bit or jig used on a drill that automatically finds the dead-center of an opening that needs to be drilled.
Now that you’re familiar with this jargon, if a plumber tells you, “I’m about to ream your pipes, then I’ll sweat them,” you’ll know there’s no reason for a raised eyebrow, or openhanded slap.
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Fix-It Friday is an exclusive Women You Should Know® editorial series authored by seasoned veteran of home improvement, Norma Vally, the former host of Discovery Home Channel’s series “Toolbelt Diva” and a show on Sirius Satellite Radio by the same name. The weekly column is designed to inspire women – weekend warriors, aspiring handywomen, and even seasoned DIYers – to take on home repairs and maintenance projects with confidence and gusto.