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Makeshift vs. Engineered Plumbing Methods: Breaking Down the Differences


Specifications and plumbing codes are designed to help guide contractors when it comes to basic installation requirements, but in most cases, they aren’t very descriptive. Too often, plumbing codes require an end goal without specific direction on how to get there. This forces installers to piece together unreliable makeshift methods that could have serious consequences if installed incorrectly. But there is a better alternative.

Instead of rigging together plumbing pipe supports and accessories, using engineered solutions can provide more for pros today and in the future, including:

  • A more professional installation appearance
  • Increased pride in craftsmanship
  • Better credibility, which can lead to more business
  • Peace of mind that jobs will pass inspections and last long after installation
  • Job site productivity and labor savings
  • Fewer warranty callback and expenses
  • Decreased likelihood of building damage and system failure liability

The risks of resorting to makeshift methods vary across products, as do the benefits of using engineered solutions instead. Below are some common makeshift methods we see in the field during commercial installations and how they compare to their engineered counterparts.

Engineered solution: HoldRite #177 Series No-hub Fitting Restraint


No-hub Fitting Restraints

There are several field-selected parts that are typically pieced together to create no-hub fitting restraints. Some common materials include metal banding, angle iron, riser clamps and thread rods.

Issues with Makeshift No-hub Fitting Restraints

Makeshift methods are untested, unproven and costly. More specifically, makeshift no-hub fitting restraints usually fail to meet the intent of CISPI standards.

In wetter states like Texas and throughout the Southeast, pipes are often impacted by large surges from heavy rainfall or increased sewage flow. This creates a problem for pipe systems supported by makeshift no-hub fitting restraints because the poorly supported joints can pull apart and cause flooding, damaging the building and equipment.

Read More: The Problem with Field-Devised No-Hub Fitting Restraints

Solution: Engineered No-hub Fitting Restraints

Take on-site cutting, bending, measuring and modifications out of the picture and replace them with an engineered solution supported by test data, torque data and product specifications that ensure the safety and reliability of the restraint’s design.

The result may look something like the HoldRite #117 Series, the only no-hub restraint product to have third-party testing data that shows what each product is rated and tested to. These restraints ensure a quicker, more professional install you can trust for no-hub pipes and fittings ranging from 2 to 15 inches.

Engineered solution: HoldRite ProGuard PEX Support


Pipe Supports

Makeshift methods differ based on the type of support and the specific application, but the most common ones are overhead and in-wall pipe supports.

Field-devised in-wall supports are often made from scrap material, such as cut lumber, tin-snipped metal studs, baling wire and random strapping material.

Trapeze pipe supports might be cobbled together using strut or channel that is manually cut into pieces with a variety of expensive clamp options.

Issues with Makeshift Pipe Supports

  1. Waste of labor to manually construct makeshift support.
  2. Potential failure if pipes come loose from supports and cause noise or system failures.
  3. Inconsistent and often unsightly installations.
  4. For in-wall supports, there’s an additional safety hazard from using several power tools to create the makeshift method.

Solution: Engineered Pipe Supports

HoldRite in-wall supports, such as stout bracketsLockRiteProGuard and PexRite, take the guesswork out of code compliance while also producing labor savings and consistent, professional. Since the pipe support brackets are made of strong materials, such as galvanized steel, they're strong enough to support different applications throughout the entire life of the building.

HoldRite overhead supports provide similar benefits with added protection against noise transfer and corrosion commonly caused by contact with dissimilar material. Our overhead supports integrate seamlessly with clamps across manufacturers to create more accurate installs.

Engineered solution: HoldRite Silencer Clamp

Keep Reading: How Engineered PEX Pipe Supports Offer Immediate and Long-Term ROI

Acoustic Noise and Vibration Isolation

Dampening noise and vibration transfer in water pipes can look different from contractor to contractor. Some may use foam rubber insulation, and others may use carpet padding, tie wire, felt or even duct tape.

Issues with Makeshift Acoustic Noise and Vibration Isolation

Along with wasting time and producing inconsistent results, untested acoustic noise and vibration isolation installations usually fail to meet the intent of the specifying engineer. Improper installation methods can also lead to litigation for the contractor and builder at the hands of a building owner or homeowners associations. In fact, noise issues are one of the top categories in construction defect litigation..

Solution: Engineered Acoustic Noise and Vibration Isolation Systems

Engineered sound isolation systems, such as the HoldRite Silencer System, can help avoid issues by complying with the specifying engineer’s requirements and producing consistent, proven results for a range of projects, whether they involve suspended piping, floor penetrations or other applications. In addition, they’re much simpler and faster to install than something improvised.

Engineered solution: HoldRite HydroFlame Pro Cast-in-place Sleeves



When it comes to firestopping, mineral wool, or firestop wool, coupled with fire caulking is the most common field-devised method used to get the job done. Or a plumber may subcontract their penetrations out to a firestop specialty contractor.

Issues with Makeshift Firestops

More room for mistakes. Subcontracting and relying on makeshift methods for firestopping leaves more room for mistakes, which can cause inspection failures, compromise your hard work and even increase liability risk.

Increased liability. Because manual installations are more likely to be inconsistent or faulty, they can leave dangerous pathways for water, smoke, gas or fire. Makeshift firestops that fail can lead to significant property damage and insurance claims.

Difficult to inspect. Makeshift firestopping methods also make an inspector’s job more difficult. They're difficult to validate visually and typically require random destructive inspecting, which can affect the firestop’s future performance.

Solution: Engineered Firestop Sleeve Devices

Firestop systems that are thoughtfully created, such as HoldRite HydroFlame Pro, meet and exceed building code requirements, giving you peace of mind that the building and its occupants will be safe. These UL Listed firestop devices are pre-tested and factory assembled, providing consistent output that is easily identifiable to the inspector. The cast-in-place firestop sleeves’ telescoping capabilities also help you save time and can thus help lower labor costs. And if you have unique requirements to meet, the firestops can be customized to your job specifications.

Read More: Firestops: Benefits of Installing Them Yourself & Code Requirements to Know

Engineered solution: HoldRite Quick Stand and Quick Pan featured


Water Heater Accessories

Water heater platforms and seismic restraints are some of the most common water heater accessories assembled in the field. Platforms could be built with wood or steel, while random steel strapping or even plumber’s tape are often used to manufacture an earthquake restraint.

Issues with Makeshift Water Heater Accessories

Confidence in your work and its reliability is important to any contractor. Makeshift methods offer no engineering data regarding the stability or longevity of the installation, which can lead to several issues if the manual method fails.

  • Injury, leaks or even an explosion hazard, if natural gas is involved.
  • Extra liability to the installer if method fails during a natural disaster.
  • Voided warranty if the untested accessories damage the water heater itself.

Solution: Engineered Water Heater Accessories

HoldRite water heater platforms are designed for safety and strength and are third-party lab tested to exceed code requirements. Our water heater platforms, such as HoldRite Quick Stand, and other accessories, including HoldRite Quick Strap, are often certified by other entities as well.

Is it necessary to use a product specifically for this application? Yes.

  • Engineered water heater products are made of durable materials like heavy gauge galvanized steel and list explicit weight limits so there’s no wondering if it’ll support the water heater.
  • They may also combine different water heater accessories in order to minimize failure points. Quick Stand equipment platforms, for example, are pre-assembled, watertight and eliminate the need to buy and install a separate drain pan.
  • Aside from functional soundness, thoughtfully designed water heater accessories conserve space and time and result in a clean installation appearance that attracts and retains customers.

Read more: 5 essential water heater accessories for new construction.

Engineered Solutions on Construction Jobs

Need to see it to believe it? We get it. Take a look at how others have made the switch to tried and true solutions and what they have to say about their experience.