Honest question, how much do you really know about your home’s plumbing?
Some homeowners have the basics of plumbing down pat and feel confident enough to do minor repairs. Others wouldn’t dare touch it with a ten-foot pole. This line of thinking is understandable, given the possibility of flooding your home if you mess up.
But like everything else, plumbing wouldn’t be so intimidating if you understand what’s going on. Knowing how your home’s plumbing work isn’t all about trying to DIY clogged drains either. With a bit of knowledge, you’ll be able to make sound decisions about your plumbing and have an idea about what’s wrong if you encounter a problem.
Are you ready to learn about plumbing basics? Let’s dive right in.
The Basics of Plumbing: Water Supply and Drainage Systems
Plumbing isn’t complicated once you break it down to the basics. Don’t think about the whole network of pipes, valves, and various parts for now. Instead, think of your home’s plumbing as two separate subsystems: supply and drainage.
One system is responsible for introducing fresh water into your home, while the other takes the wastewater out. Simple, right?
Let’s take a closer look at how these two plumbing systems operate.
Freshwater Supply System
The water you use for drinking, washing, bathing, etc., can come from either city water or a private well.
City water comes into your home from a “main” pipe that usually runs parallel to your street. Before entering your home, the water will go through a meter that registers how much you use for billing purposes. There’s a shut-off valve near the water meter that you can use to shut off the water to your home completely when you need to do plumbing repairs, for example.
Water pressure allows the water to travel wherever it’s needed. City water is already under pressure. But if your water comes from a well, aside from the pump, you may need a pressure tank to give the water enough force to travel to the highest parts of your house.
After you use clean water to wash clothes or take a bath, it becomes wastewater that leaves through your drainage system. Unlike the supply system, drainage isn’t dependent on pressure. Instead, the wastewater relies on gravity to flow into a sewer line that leads to a septic tank or a sewage treatment facility.
The drainage system has three primary components: vents, traps, and clean-outs. Vents allow air into the drainpipes so that air can replace the space left by the water exiting the pipes. This prevents the vacuum effect during emptying to ensure smooth flow.
Drain traps or P traps are present under every sink, toilet, or any other fixture. Due to the shape, traps can hold water that acts as a barrier versus the backflow of sewer elements and gases.
Clean-outs are basically removable plugs that allow easy access to the drain trap. You or your plumber can deal with a clogged drain without doing a complete disassembly using the clean-out.
Water In, Water Out
Understanding the basics of plumbing is as simple as knowing how water goes into your home and how it goes out. Keeping this concept in mind gives you a general idea about what’s going on with your home’s plumbing. You’ll be able to pinpoint the origin of the problem, whether it’s due to the supply or the drainage system.
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