Top 10 Plumbing Terms Homeowners Should Know

Top 10 Plumbing Terms Homeowners Should Know

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If you’re looking for a new plumber, or if you’re struggling to understand the quote that your local bluefrog Plumbing + Drain plumbing company gave you, you’re not alone. Many people get confused about the inner workings of their home’s plumbing system, but it’s not as scary as it sounds! (Ok, a clogged commode might be scary)

Here are the 10 plumbing terms all homeowners should know.


There are many drains in your home, from the kitchen sink to the laundry room, underneath your washing machine. These openings connect your sinks, tubs, and showers into the piping system, and, once the wastewater leaves your home, into the city’s main sewer lines.

Drains are either open or have a protective trap over them, to catch stray hairs and small solid debris. If you don’t have fitted traps over your shower and tub drains, you can reduce the number and size of clogs in these drains by purchasing ones that fit your drains. Just make sure to clean them regularly!


The flapper is an adjustable water shut-off valve. It’s located at the bottom of the toilet tank and is opened and closed with the toilet handle. The flapper causes the toilet to flush until the float valve (the balloon in the tank) levels off to indicate that the bowl has been refilled.

Shut-Off Valve

There are shut off valves for every plumbing fixture, faucet, and appliance that uses water in your house. If you have an issue with just one fixture, like a leaking or backed up toilet, or a dripping faucet, you can turn off the water supply to that particular thing, without affecting the water use in the rest of the house. However, if one of the main water pipes is leaking, then you’ll need to shut off the main valve going to the home and call a plumber for an emergency repair. The team at bluefrog is on call 24-7 if that happens.

Sewer Jetting

The term sewer jetting is part of the process that a plumber completes to clear your sewer drains, after manually removing clogs. Clogs in the sewer line typically occur from either flushing things that shouldn’t be flushed or putting food down the kitchen sink. Sewer jetting involves using high-pressure water jets (between 1,500 psi to 4,000 psi) through a slim nozzle through the sewer pipes. The water makes enough force to clear out the small piece of clogs that remain after cleaning and can be a mess-free, efficient way to clean sewer lines.

P-Trap and S-Trap

Pipe traps prevent sewer gasses from entering back into the home once waste has been flushed. The terms refer to the shape of the pipes. Underneath sinks, the drainpipes are P-shaped, while in the wall, they resemble an S-shape, hence the terms “P-Trap” and “S-Trap”. The curvature of the pipes traps a small amount of water in the bottom to prevent the odors of the sewer lines and the gasses inside from traveling back up the pipe and into your home.

Septic System

If you aren’t connected to the main sewer system in the city, then your property has an independent sewer system. This system consists of the septic tank, septic field, and the connecting pipes. The septic tank is buried underground and contains the wastewater from your home. Inside the septic tank, certain enzymes and bacteria break down the waste; once that is done, the resulting materials seep into the ground (the septic field) where it’s further purified. A plumber should periodically check the workings of your septic system to prevent toxic leaks and make sure that the bacteria and enzymes are working properly.

Auger and Snake

Augers and snakes are used to remove clogs from toilets, drains, and underground pipes. Augers are flexible metal rods that come in a variety of shapes, usually with a curved end, that a plumber uses unclog drains. Toilet augers are commonly used to remove clogs closer to the toilet itself, while larger augers are used for underground drain lines.

Overflow and Backflow

Backflow refers to when water travels back up into the main plumbing system through the pipes. This may occur outside the home and cause your drains to have rising water simultaneously, or within a single pipe system.

Overflow is when there’s a clog in the plumbing pipes that prevents water from draining into the sewer lines. Both overflow and backflow can cause problems with your sewer lines, such as burst pipes, that need an emergency plumber to repair.

Master Plumber

The term Master Plumber is an earned title for plumbers who have achieved several degrees of certification and training. To obtain the Master Plumber level, at least 10 years of experience in the plumbing industry is needed. A Master Plumber typically manages a plumbing company and takes on and mentors newer plumbers called journeymen and apprentices.

A Master Plumber must also pass a state licensing exam in order to qualify for the title and, in some areas, it’s necessary for a plumber to start their own company.

Licensed, Bonded, and Insured

When you’re looking for a great plumber, these three little words are the most important. Licensing means that the plumber meets the requirements in your state and city to do work on plumbing systems. Insured means that the plumber has insurance that protects both you and them, against workplace injuries, unintended damages to your home during the repair process, and other workplace liability. A bonded plumber has additional insurance that protects you, the homeowner, in cases of theft or if the business fails.

Call bluefrog Plumbing + Drain Today!

The teams at your local bluefrog Plumbing + Drain are overseen by a Master Plumber, and every tech we send to your home is licensed, bonded, and insured. We’re familiar with all kinds of plumbing problems and can quickly get your home flowing smoothly again. Visit us online to learn more about our services and save our local number in your smartphone in case of emergencies. We can’t wait to hop to work for you!

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