Sanitary tees are small, simple things that cause a lot of confusion. Many people want to know if you can lay a sanitary tee on its side. If you look, you’ll find many answers that say ‘no.’ With no real reason this is the case, it seems silly to avoid rotating a little piece of metal or plastic. I always follow the rules laid out by professionals, especially where plumbing is concerned, but I was curious as well. After a lot of deeper research, it turns out this is a safety and sanitation issue. You use a sanitary tee in the upright position to prevent sewage and wastewater from backing up into your clean water pipe. It prevents you from getting sick. Hence the name ‘sanitary’ tee. A little dirty water might not seem so dangerous, but it carries debris and microscopic bacteria. Once bacteria start a colony in your pipe, you have a serious health concern that is hard to pinpoint.
Can you lay a sanitary tee on its side? You cannot lay a sanitary tee on its side. Not only is this a code violation, but it is also unsafe. The design of the sanitary tee prevents wastewater from getting into clean water lines, and turning it sideways negates that feature. Always set your sanitary tee upright to stay healthy.
What Is The Difference Between A Sanitary Tee And A Regular Tee
Tees are named for their shape, so both sanitary and regular tee fittings resemble the letter “t.” Although you cannot lay a sanitary tee on its side, you may be able to lay a regular tee on a different access because it does a different job.
A Standard Tee
Tees are used to divide or combine the flow of water and wastewater. For example, you could use a tee at an intersection under your home to split water from the main line. Moving some water toward a kitchen, bathroom, and water heater doesn’t mean you need multiple sources.
Similarly, you could use a tee to combine gray water lines. Taking the flow from showers to vent into a garden could allow you to reuse that water for ecological reasons. These are just fittings that direct the flow to and from various places.
Many people don’t know that the water that flows into a toilet, for example, comes from the same water pipe as your sink water. Obviously, it would be best if you didn’t drink from a toilet, but there’s no real need to use a different source because of tees.
Sanitary tees are used to drain and vent water at the same time. On the first inspection, they look a lot like a regular tee. However, you can see the difference when looking at the side.
A sanitary tee has a curved, downward sweeping central inlet. This feature helps you know which way to orient the sanitary tee. It is important to use it vertically so it can do the job for which it was designed. Use sanitary tees to connect a horizontal to the vertical line for venting.
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What Is A 4 Way Sanitary Tee
A sanitary tee can have three holes or four. Although neither style is good for laying on its side, four-way sanitary tees are named for the extra connection. You can identify these by simply looking at them.
Typical sanitary tees look like a sideways uppercase “T.” Meanwhile, the four-way sanitary tee looks more like a lowercase letter ‘t’ or a plus sign. This style has two of the downward sweeping curved arms that lead down into a central inlet. The curved arms are located on opposite sides of the main or central top and bottom.
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When Should You Use A Double Sanitary Tee
It would be best if you used a double sanitary tee for venting-only plumbing. When you have two horizontal lines that need to go out and drain away from your home, usually into a sewer, this is where you connect a double sanitary tee. However, please never use a double sanitary tee to connect pipes directing the water into the home.
You can use the double sanitary tee when the ports are half of the size of the main pipe. Basically, these can only be used in the upright position to direct water toward your cleanout. The ‘cleanout’ is required at the base of stacks, aimed in the direction of flow, and it should connect to the sewer pipe. Additionally, cleanouts need eighteen inches of clearance for the working area and must be within thirty inches of the home.
Can You Use A Wye Vertically
You can and should use a wye vertically. These ‘y’ shaped fixtures are made to connect two lines at a forty-five-degree angle. Since you use a wye to combine or create additional lines, it is important to orient the wye correctly. Otherwise, you could accidentally end up with sewage in a potable water line, among other problems.
A combination wye or ‘combo wye’ connects a horizontal branch line to a vertical drainpipe. Nevertheless, it is still used in the upright position. The curve of the arms should point down instead of sitting flat and angling away.
It’s easy to get confused if you’re not a professional plumber. Both tees and wyes move water from the horizontal to the vertical. However, both have a specific orientation that is ‘upright’ for that fixture. In the case of Wyes, you cannot simply lay them on a side or flip them upside down. Hence you can and should use them ‘vertically’ or in the correct upright direction.
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Can A Wye Be Used Horizontally
You cannot use a wye horizontally. Just as you cannot lay a sanitary tee on its side, you cannot lay a wye on its side. Looking at the angle may appear to make perfect sense as a connector, but things don’t quite work the way they appear.
Wyes are engineered to work from horizontal to vertical. Laying them down can create a suction effect. By siphoning wastewater into your pipe, you can contaminate the entire system. No one wants to drink or wash their hands in used, dirty water.
There is an exception to this when the wye provides the proper slope and connects two horizontal pipes. However, using wyes on the horizontal makes them more likely to clog as well. Plumbing is far more complex than it first appears. The angles and curves of your pipes are highly engineered and precise.
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Wyes For Venting
You can start a vent with a wye. Just like the sanitary tee, a sanitary wye is considered vertical when pointing upward. It makes an excellent connection to the vent pipe and cleanout, provided your designs don’t violate any other aspects of the International Plumbing Code.
If you are unsure, check with a professional, or consult the codes themselves. However, there’s a lot of plumbing-specific language like ‘sanity tee and wyes.’ It is easy to understand once you know the words, tools, and pipe fittings in question. Plus, it’s always worth a little extra research to pass inspection.
There’s a difference between a tee and a sanitary tee. The small variation is what means you cannot lay a sanitary tee on its side. A slight curvature helps direct water to prevent backup. If you look at the tee carefully, you can see how it works.
It is crucial to use the right part accurately when doing any plumbing work. Like electrical, this is one area where a small mistake can lead to massive issues and leave you doing tens of thousands of dollars in repairs. A sideways sanitary tee can also land you in a hospital.
Often it is the smallest things that make the largest differences, like the orientation of a sanitary tee. Keep your home and family safe and healthy by always paying close attention to plumbing fixtures.