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What Is Plumbing and How Does It Work?

Each and every home has plumbing. But what is plumbing exactly, and how does it work?

In essence, plumbing refers to the various water systems in your home. But that’s a very general way to look at things.

In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about what is plumbing. So that you can better navigate your home when speaking to contractors, friends, and family.

Whenever you’re ready to acquire new knowledge on the topic of plumbing, keep reading.

What Is Plumbing: The Basics

All pipe systems are involved in two primary categories, water intake, and wastewater out, this is true for all homes, regardless of the number of bathrooms and kitchens. The drains are usually in close vicinity to venting systems, because they have to be close due to construction regulations.

When you try to resolve any plumbing issues, make sure to turn the water supply off. Most older homes are short shutoff, so you might have to shut the water down at the main. By doing this, you will avoid any surprises because the incoming water pressure is usually at 50+ psi, which means you will get drenched before even trying to fix the problem.

The outtake and intake systems work in unison to keep the plumbing efficient. If you’re a first-time owner of a home, you should know how these components work together to make sure your new home is working properly, but also to determine where the problems are.

The Water Supply System

The system of pipes that brings fresh water into the home is the water supply. This system is directly related to water pressure. The water in the pipes comes from two sources, the wells, and the city water.

City water gets into the home via a large pipe that is parallel to the street. If your main connection has an issue, call a specialist. Damage to the main can result in hefty fines and civil lawsuits.

People who are not connected to the city water will usually get their water from the wells. Water has to be pumped into the home via higher pressure. Reduced pressure prevents water from getting to the highest and furthest points of the home.

Running faucets and showers are usually the first to be depleted by low pressure. Blockages and leaks affect the pressure range. If a leak occurs because of a loose seal, it can easily be handled from the home.

But if the leak requires re-piping, you are best off calling a specialist plumber. The water meter is connected to the main pipe, and there’s usually a shutoff valve after or before your meter.

The valve cuts off the water supply, thus making ut very helpful when repairs have to be done.

Water Supply System Maintenance

Piping that is installed correctly is leak-proof. However, systems disintegrate over time, so in some cases, a plumber might need to fully overhaul the plumbing.

The water supply system functions perfectly when pressure is abundant. This makes the system quite responsive to damage.

For instance, a drainage system leak will cause damp-related issues. On the other hand, leaks in the water supply will make things worse. It will affect the water pressure, and you might not be able to flush the toilets or run the showers.

Furthermore, leaks are very harmful to the water supply. Because of system sensitivity, the problems are best handled by specialists.

The Drain Water Vent System

There’s a reason the water supply and drain water vents don’t overlap, and there’s a reason for that. But there are bridges throughout the entire home where these systems meet. Plumbers usually refer to these bridge fixtures.

As a layman, you know them as faucets, sinks, washing machines,s and anything like that. A fixture is defined as any point at which water is used. Clean water comes into the fixture, and wastewater leaves.

The drainage system is heavily gravity reliant because the wastewater has to be rid from the home. The system consists of three parts:

  1. The drain traps
  2. The drain pipes
  3. The drain vents

And that’s about it. But we need to cover these parts in greater detail.

Drain Traps

P traps, also known as drain traps are pipes in the shape of a U and they prevent plumbing system backflow. The pipes retain water consistently, mostly because of their shape.

But why should the pipe hold water? Well, the drain water vents are connected to the sewer line. Without the trap, sewer gases make your home stink terrible. Drain traps allow hair, grease, and other particles to sediment.

This sediment is then removed to clean the plugs. Without the traps, this debris would move all the way down. Consequently, clogging the pipes.

Drain Pipes

Downward angled pipes that use gravity to push water into the sewer line are drain pipes. By simple review, you will easily know that the system is more complicated than the water supply. This is because gravity reliance is not simple.

Drain pipes have to be developed and installed in a manner that lets them use gravity to their benefit. For instance, the angle of the pipes is very important. The pipes are bigger than those on the water supply.

The size allows the pipes to push waste without blocking the flow.

Drain Vent

If a bottle with water is turned over, water flow is erratic. This is what happens when water is flowing through closed systems, it’s not smooth. But that’s why you have drain vents.

The drain vent goes from the roof to the drainpipe. It works by releasing air into hte plumbing and ensuring a smooth flow.

Damage to these systems will be present within the total efficiency of your entire drain vent system. Sub-standard items will affect your plumbing output. You should always buy quality products.

Drain Water System Maintenance

The biggest problem that is common to drain water systems is clogging. Hair is probably the most common cause, but in the kitchen, grease is the clear winner. To reduce the risk of clogs, you need to clean your plugs often.

You should also keep a keen eye for leaks. The drain water vent piping is always out of sight. Some signs of a leak are damp ceilings, mold infestations, stinky rooms.

Structural damage is bound to occur from leaks. It does not hurt to call a professional plumber to assess your plumbing system for leaks.

Simply because you do not see the problem, it does not mean it’s not there.

Remove Clogs

Clogging happens over time. When you notice water drainage slowing down, it’s time to take some preventative protocols into considerations. You should call a specialist over to unclog the pipes.

They will clean all the plugs where applicable, and they will assess your general plumbing to see if there are any greater issues.

Pipe Check

You should always assess exposed piping for signs of wear. Look out for leaks if possible, and also look for signs of leaking where the pipes cannot be seen.

Some signs of leaky pipes are damp and mold, ever-running meters, high water bills.

Water Heater Drainage

You should consider emptying your water heaters at least twice annually. Sediment often collects in your heart, and it drastically reduces efficiency in the long run. If the heater is already worn out, call your plumber.

Most plumbers spend lots of time as an apprentice. Even the newest plumbers are more experienced than you are at operating a heater.

Winter Tips

If not already, consider insulating your pipes for the wintertime. Most people know this already, but also most people forget to do this. Having your pipes freeze is not even a big problem, water expands as it freezes.

Insulation is useful for ensuring that your pipes are not exploding.

Strainer Application

Strainers are very useful for protecting your pipes from clogs. They are used to keep debris from entering the pipes in the first place. But, strainers can also get damaged.

You should replace them when possible. In most cases, a simple strainer is what will make a big difference in your plumbing.

Water Pressure

Plumbing problems are often caused by reduced water pressure. If your pressure is low, always call a plumber. Being quick with your response will ensure that you don’t start to incur huge fines in the long run.

In showers, reduced pressure often happens because of showerhead sediment. Make sure to clean the showerhead before you call a plumber.

When leaks are very serious and they decrease your water pressure, they are best left to specialists. You are probably going to have to endure pipe replacements.

Sewage Lines

Another thing you should do is understand how your sewer line works. Try to avoid planting trees on the line of sewage, because the roots can cause serious long-term damage.

For everything to go smoothly, you should also snake the lines regularly. In most cases, leave the sewer problems to specialists. Damage to shared sewage lines can clog your plumbing, and your neighbor’s plumbing, which is not advised. If this happens, you can attract civil lawsuits.

Plumbing for You

Now that you know what is plumbing, you are well on your way to ensure that your home plumbing is efficient and clean. However, if you think you can solve all of your plumbing problems on your own, think again.

Plumbing is a complicated subject, no wonder specialists spend years on understanding and mastering the craft. If you’re interested in plumbing services local to you, get in touch with us and we will happily help you out.

Written by Tanya Klien

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