Plumbing Glossary - Unpacking the Language of Plumbing
Plumbing is an integral part of any home or building. With the help of plumbing, we are able to use running water for basic needs and activities such as washing, bathing, and drinking. Despite its importance, many people do not understand how plumbing works and the language associated with it. This article will unpack the terminology used in plumbing to give its readers a better understanding of how it works. It will cover topics like fixtures, pipes, valves, fittings, and more.
Common Plumbing Terms & Definitions
Every house has plumbing, and if you want to understand yours, you've got to know the lingo.
Old copper and galvanized steel water pipes are practically a thing of the past. PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) is the pipe material of the future. It can be bent, assembled easily, and even comes in red and blue to easily identify the hot water pipes from the cold water pipes. PEX is much less costly than copper and comparable with PVC, another plastic material with a future.
Today, PEX is the material of choice for new water system installations, and it can also be tied into existing copper systems. One of the disadvantages of PEX is that it's not meant to be for outdoor above-ground use, so landscapers normally use polypropylene or PVC. Another drawback: PEX fittings are more expensive than metal or PVC fittings.
A plumbing P-trap is a curved pipe section that is commonly found under sink basins, bathtub drains, and toilets. The "P" shape of the trap serves two important functions in a plumbing system:
- It traps a small amount of water in the bottom of the curve to act as a barrier, preventing sewer gases from entering the building through the drain.
- It allows air to enter the system, preventing vacuum blockage and allowing water to flow freely through the drain.
A P-traps are essential components of a plumbing system and must be installed correctly to ensure water flow. They must also be maintained regularly to avoid blockages. If a P-trap becomes clogged, it can cause water to back up in the sink or drain, leading to unpleasant odors and potential water damage.
A drain cleanout is a plumbing feature designed to allow for easy access to the main sewer line for cleaning and maintenance purposes. It is a capped pipe that provides an access point to remove blockages or debris from the sewer line, without having to dig up the entire line. Cleanouts are typically located near the main sewer line, often near the foundation of a building or near a property boundary.
What You Need to Know About Plumbing: Basic Glossary
A plumbing glossary is a list of terms used in the plumbing industry. Here are some common plumbing terms:
- ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene): A type of plastic commonly used for pipes and fittings in plumbing systems.
- Backflow: The reverse flow of water or other substances from a plumbing fixture or appliance back into the main water supply.
- DWV (Drain-Waste-Vent) system: The system in a building that carries wastewater and ventilation from fixtures to the sewer or septic system.
- Fixture: A device that uses water, such as a toilet, sink, or shower.
- Main shutoff valve: The valve that controls the water supply to the entire building.
- PEX (Crosslinked Polyethylene): A type of plastic used for pipes and fittings in plumbing systems.
- Pressure reducing valve: A device used to regulate the water pressure in a plumbing system.
- Sump pump: A pump used to remove water from a sump pit in a basement or crawlspace.
- Trap: A curved section of a pipe that holds water to prevent sewer gases from entering a building.
- Vent: A pipe that allows air to enter a plumbing system and prevent vacuum blockage.
This is a general list of common plumbing terms, and the specific terms used can vary based on location and industry standards. If you have specific questions about plumbing terms, it's best to consult with a licensed plumber or refer to a plumbing reference guide.
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