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Many people don’t think about how water makes its way through the pipes of their home until they need to call a plumbing company for repairs. Even then, you can simply leave the burst pipes, clogs and leaks in the capable hands of a professional plumber.
Plumbing might seem to involve a mysterious maze of pipes and drains, but it’s helpful to understand how the different components work together so you can identify issues and discuss your needs knowledgeably with experts at the plumbing company. At the very minimum, it’s important to know how to turn off your home’s water supply in case of an emergency.
Components of a Home Plumbing System
The job of a residential plumbing system is to keep water flowing smoothly so you can take a shower, wash dishes, do laundry and flush the toilet. A plumbing system sends hot and cold water to fixtures such as a faucet and carries wastewater to a septic tank or sewer.
There are three parts to a home plumbing system. If you have concerns with any of these components, ask a professional plumbing company to assess the problem and provide a repair solution.
Here’s a look at how these components work together.
- Water intake brings fresh, clean water into your home.
- Fixtures such as faucets and taps provide access to the water and then direct wastewater away.
- Water drainage removes wastewater and sends it to the sewer system for treatment.
Most residents get their water through their city’s infrastructure. Water is distributed to individual homes and businesses through a series of underground pipes. Some rural properties may not have access to this infrastructure and instead draw water from a well system using a pump.
If you use city water, your home’s supply comes from a water main beneath the road in front of your house. Since the supply is the responsibility of the municipality, problems with the underground main are typically dealt with by engineers and not a plumbing company.
The water main is your source of fresh water, but there are times when you may need to stop the flow of water to your home. If you have a burst pipe, for example, it’s important to turn off the water supply at the point of entry and contact a plumbing company. The shutoff valves should be located outside of your house near the water meter. If you haven’t used the shutoff valves recently, try them a couple of times a year to make sure they’re not rusted or corroded shut. Be sure everyone in your home knows where the valve is located in case of an emergency.
When you run the shower, dishwasher or washing machine, water flows into the house from the water main. It travels past the water meter, which tracks your water usage and charges you appropriately. If you’re interested in reducing your water bills, ask a plumbing company about ways to make your plumbing system more efficient.
The water that enters your house is cold. Some of it is directed to your water heater, which has a temperature setting to determine how hot the water gets. The heated water then runs in a separate line next to the cold-water line to reach your fixtures.
If you have problems with your hot water, ask a plumbing company to examine your hot water heater to let you know if it needs repair or replacing.
Plumbing fixtures are the bridge between the water intake and the water drainage systems. Faucets, showers, bathtubs, dishwashers and laundry machines are all fixtures. They deliver water for household use and direct wastewater into drainpipes, keeping both pipes separate.
While your house has a main valve to shut off water supply from the street, there are also individual point-of-use valves that control supply to specific fixtures. These valves are helpful if a plumbing company needs to turn off the water to fix a leaky pipe in the bathroom without affecting water usage in other parts of the house.
Drain Waste System for Outgoing Water
Water that comes into your house is pressurized to force it through the pipes, but water that’s leaving flows downward due to gravity. A few things are required for it to effectively be carried out.
- Vent stacks are vertical pipes that extend outward on the roof of a house to allow air into the drains. Without air, wastewater becomes trapped in the pipes.
- Drain traps are the curved pipes under the sinks in your house. Also called P-traps, they serve two purposes. They allow a small amount of water to remain in the pipe as a barrier to stop toxic sewer gases from entering your home. They also prevent clogs from traveling deeper into your pipes by catching hair, grease and other particles. The P-trap is particularly handy if you accidentally drop a ring or other item into the drain.
- Clean-out plugs are located on the bottom of some traps to help clear out clogs. Set a bucket underneath the pipe when you remove the plug and empty the trap. A plumbing company can help access hard-to-reach traps such as the ones connected to a shower or tub, and clogs that are deeper in the pipes.
Used water flows out through drainpipes to your house’s sewer pipe, and then into the city sewer system. The used water and waste materials are then carried to a sewage treatment facility. If you’re not connected to a city sewer system, wastewater from your home empties into a septic system on your property.
A residential plumbing system is a critical part of your house. Call a plumbing companyif you have concerns with hot water, leaks, clogs or drainage systems before they cause damage. The friendly experts at bluefrog Plumbing + Draincan answer your questions, assess problems and provide repair solutions that keep your home plumbing system running smoothly.