Home Plumbing Facts You Need to Know

Plumber Tampa uses basic laws of gravity, pressure, and water, seeking its level to bring in fresh water and drain wastewater. Knowing some basic plumbing facts can make your next pipe-related project go more smoothly, minimize panic in the event of a problem, and help you save money.


Two different subsystems comprise your home plumbing system: the home supply and drainage pipes. The two systems are separate, but there are bridges called fixtures where fresh water enters and wastewater leaves.

A home plumbing system is a complex network of pipes, valves, and fixtures that supply clean water and remove waste. Its components include the main water supply pipe that connects a home to a public water source or private well, the water meter that tracks usage, and the main shut-off valve where you can stop water flow to a home. A home’s plumbing system also includes long or short straight pipes, T-sections that direct water at right angles, elbows for directional adjustments and brass or gate valves to control flow.

The supply pipes that carry fresh, potable water throughout a house are usually made from iron, copper or plastic and are typically under pressure, so they can deliver water to fixtures like sinks, toilets and showers. They also transport hot water to a home’s water heater. The pressure that keeps these pipes flowing is vital because gravity and the tendency of water to seek its own level would otherwise cause them to empty out of a sink or drain.

When selecting the proper pipe material, a homeowner must consider budget, durability, water quality and installation process. Rigid copper, often referred to as hard copper, is the most common choice for home supply lines because of its cost-effectiveness and resistance to corrosion and rust. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) are other popular choices for home supply pipes because of their cost-effectiveness, flexibility and freeze resistance.

These types of piping also differ in their ease of assembling and sealing. PVC and PEX pipes have push-on joints that are quick and easy to assemble. Copper is harder to work with, but it can be sealed more effectively with solder. A plumber can recommend the best type of pipe for a specific home project.

While supply lines may receive the most attention from homeowners, your drain pipes are equally important for disposing of wastewater while preventing fumes and gurgling noises. This system of vents and traps, commonly referred to as the drain-waste-vent (DWV) system, is responsible for carrying waste and sewage from your home to your municipality’s sewer line or your personal septic tank and field. Having an understanding of this unobtrusive but vital system can help you identify and remedy problems such as slow drainage or sewer gas smell.

Unlike supply pipes, which are pressurized to facilitate water flow, drain pipes must be connected to outside air in order to properly balance atmospheric pressure. This ensures that water doesn’t build up in your fixtures and prevents noxious gases, such as methane, from seeping into your home. Essentially, a home’s DWV system consists of drain pipes, vent pipes and the traps that lie beneath each fixture.

Each fixture has a trap, which is usually shaped like a U and lies directly below the drain pipe. The p-trap seals the trap and ensures that wastewater and sewage travel downward rather than backward into the fixture. The vent pipe, on the other hand, connects to the roof and outside air to neutralize pressure within the system and relieve noxious fumes.

The final component of your DWV system is the main sewer line, which is shown on a plumbing diagram as the vertical soil stack that runs from your house to the municipal sewage line or septic tank and field. A sewage line diagram shows the connection between this main line and the vent pipes, which carry noxious sewer gases away from your home to the atmosphere.

Whether you’re building a new house or renovating your existing one, the right plumbing fixtures can add to the beauty and functionality of your home. The role of these fixtures is not just limited to providing water for use; they also help in ensuring the health and safety of the people living in your house by removing wastes, wastewater, and sludge.

The most commonly used plumbing fixtures are toilets, showers, faucets, and kitchen and bathroom sinks. However, this is not the end of the list as there are many other essential plumbing fixtures such as bidets, laundry trays, garbage disposals, and heated floors that you can add to your house.

These fixtures are often made from hardwearing materials such as stainless steel, porcelain, or brass and come in a wide range of styles and designs to suit your taste and needs. When choosing the right ones for your home, consider the following factors:

Aside from being durable and reliable, these fixtures should be easy to maintain and clean. Moreover, you should look for ones that are energy-efficient as they can help in saving on utility costs.

Investing in the right plumbing fixtures can improve your home’s value and marketability, particularly when it comes time to sell it. Buyers will be impressed by the quality and efficiency of your household’s plumbing system, which can lead to a higher asking price. In addition, upgrading your fixtures to more efficient models can help conserve natural resources and reduce the strain on local water supplies. This, in turn, can also contribute to the sustainability of your community. It is therefore essential that you understand and know how your home’s plumbing fixtures work, their various functions, and their importance in your daily life.

The water meter measures your home’s water usage for billing purposes. It works like a car’s odometer, recording the total volume of water used over time. Your water meter may be one of two types: an analog dial or a digital display. It is important to know how your meter reads so that you can spot a leak or other problem quickly.

Depending on your area, you will be charged per unit of water. Typically, these units are measured in cubic feet or gallons. A cubic foot is equal to 7.48 gallons. Water meters are generally owned, read and maintained by a city, rural water association or other public service provider. However, some multi-family properties such as apartments or mobile home parks may share a single meter and bill occupants according to their individual usage in a process called submetering.

Most meters have a simple dial that moves as water passes through it. A full rotation of the dial equals one cubic foot (or 7.48 gallons). Some have a low flow indicator that rotates even with very little water movement. If the indicator is moving when all water outlets are turned off, you may have a slow leak in your plumbing system.

The best way to test your meter is to turn off all the water in your house indoors and out, including irrigation spigots and ice makers. Then, observe the meter for movement over two to three hours. If it does not move, you probably have a leak somewhere in your plumbing system. If it does move, shut off all the water outlets again and observe the meter for further movement over the next two to three hours.

The main water supply line is the large-diameter pipe that brings freshwater into your home from the public water supply or a private well. This water flows under pressure through a system of pipes to reach every faucet, shower, toilet and other fixture in your house.

If something goes wrong with your plumbing, turning off the main water valve is crucial to protecting your property and minimizing damage. Knowing where your valve is located and how to turn it off can save you valuable time in a crisis.

Most homes have a main shut-off valve located somewhere near where the main water line enters the house. In newer homes, this is often in a basement or crawl space, but it may be in a utility room. In older houses, it’s usually in the front of the foundation or close to the water heater.

There are several types of main shut-off valves, but they all work the same way. You can open or close the valve by rotating the handle. Once the valve is closed, you should be able to hear and feel water stop flowing. Some valves have a round handle, while others have a straight lever. A ball valve shut-off valve is a good choice for residential use as it has few parts that could break or get stuck.

Every member of your family should know where the main shut-off valve is located and how to turn it off. You should also put your plumber’s phone number in everyone’s cellphone and keep his business card on the refrigerator with other emergency numbers. This will allow you to get in touch with your plumber quickly if there is a plumbing disaster that requires emergency service.