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Why Traditional DWV Plumbing Test Balls are a Thing of the Past


Today, plumbers require the best products available to get the job done efficiently and safely. While drain, waste and vent testing, or DWV testing, has been around for decades, traditional DWV systems aren’t up to par. Outdated DWV plumbing fittings and bladders oftentimes put plumbers at risk and slow them down too.

But we’ve created an innovative DWV testing solution at HoldRite that addresses the limitations of outdated methods. Leave dated DWV testing systems behind for something better: TestRite.

DWV Plumbing Code Requirements

As required by plumbing code, new pipe installations must be drain, waste and vent tested to ensure water tightness, and for over 60 years, contractors have used inflatable test balls, or plumbing test balls, to perform this task.

Evolving DWV Testing Methods

There have been several materials and installation methods for DWV testing over the past 6,000 years. The first system was made of baked clay and used in Babylon around 4,000 BCE. Testing evolved to include wood logs followed by cast iron. Then, in the early 1950s, the inflatable test ball system was introduced.


Plumbing Test Balls: What You Need to Know

To use the inflatable plumbing test ball system, you first have to insert and inflate the ball without accidentally rupturing it. Then, add water into the upper piping system until it reaches the upper terminal of the system. After you check for escaping water and call your inspector to get the permit signed off, you deflate the test ball and repeat the whole process multiple times if you’re working on a multi-story building.

Inflatable test balls get the job done — stopping the flow of water so you can test pressure and check for leaks — but they aren’t the most efficient method, nor are they the safest.

Wasted Time

While the DWV testing process is tedious to begin with, it gets even more time consuming if there’s a leak. With inflatable test balls there is no way to only let some of the water out to fix the issue. You have to drain all the test water and start over.

They take more time to complete, costing you money every minute you’re not completing another job. Plus, plumbing ball systems require a host of tools, from air pumps to compressors to thread sealants — all of which add up. If the test ball leaks or fails, there’s no way repair it. You must buy a new one. Most contractors say it has a lifespan of about five uses maximum.

Safety Issues

One of the most significant facts to note about the traditional plumbing ball testing method is that it can expose contractors to all of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) “Fatal Four” top causes of worker fatalities: falls, electrocution, struck by object and caught in/between.

  1. Falls: If the test ball ruptures, you’re going to get floors and installers wet. When it’s deflated at the end of the testing process, water can spray out of the test port location too. This could create a slip-and-fall hazard on the job, especially in the wintertime.
  2. Electrocution: Water spillage could mix with power cords on site, creating an electrocution hazard.
  3. Struck by object: Test balls are very sensitive to inflation pressures. This makes it easy for them to over-inflate and burst, which could cause flying shrapnel to hit an installer.
  4. Caught in/between: When a test ball deflates after the test is done, it can sometimes get sucked down the pipeline, which also puts a contractor at risk of getting their hand sucked into the pipe because of the force of rushing water.

Plumbing test balls often fail during the placement, inflation and removal of the device, whether it’s because of aging equipment, user error or faulty gauges. This could not only put you at risk but also the job site itself. If rupture happens in a multistory building and water spills onto floor, it can travel down to finished floors of the building, causing damage. It can also introduce potential mold.

TestRite: A Better DWV System

These issues called for an update of DWV testing methods. At HoldRite, we believe in putting plumbers’ needs first, so we created the TestRite family of products to address the common challenges of working with inflatable test balls.

You can fill or drain water from the test location. No need to empty the whole pipe.

  • A triple seal protection design ensures a dry, safe environment.
  • You can use TestRite 5-10 times more than a plumbing ball. You can also replace the O-rings if damaged, to extend the life of the device.
  • It only requires one simple tool and fewer steps to complete the test, making the process 2-4 times faster.
  • It meets plumbing code.
  • Rated up to 50 ft of head pressure / 22 PSI / 5 floors

Explore the TestRite DWV Testing System

Our TestRite products include anything you would need for a DWV test. Browse test tees, fittings, valves, cleanout plugs, wedge seals, spanner rings or get the entire system for your specific pipe type.