The Brockman Plumbing Guide to General Plumbing
A quick reference for how your plumbing system works, how to avoid plumbing problems, and what to do if you encounter an issue
How Your Plumbing System Works
Your home’s plumbing system is an essential part of a comfortable standard of living. If it’s not working properly, you won’t be able to shower, wash your hands, use the toilet, wash dishes, water the lawn, or run the washing machine. Plumbing systems are responsible for quite a bit; however, most people don’t really know what their plumbing system is. They just turn the handle or press a button and expect the water to come out at the precise temperature and pressure they want.
As a homeowner, it’s important to have a basic understanding of how your plumbing system works, so that you can take better care of it and prevent costly breakdowns. Keep reading to learn the 3 major categories of your home’s plumbing system.
- Pipes and Fittings: The pipes and fittings are essentially the skeleton of your plumbing system. Pipes are used to transport water from the main city line or well, throughout your home, and finally to the individual places it needs to go. Fittings are the parts that connect one pipe to the next. Fittings allow the pipes to change angles and make the best use of the space inside your walls, ceilings, and floors. Most plumbing systems will have two sets of pipes and fittings; one set for cold water, and one for hot. The pipes in your plumbing system will most likely be made of copper, brass, PVC, or lead.
- Fixtures: As your pipes carry water throughout your home, that water needs an ultimate place to go. That’s where fixtures come in. Your plumbing fixtures include any appliance in your home that requires water, including your bathroom and kitchen sinks, dishwashers, washing machines, and your shower or bathtub. Some of these fixtures draw water on an as-needed basis, while others draw water from the pipes at the turn of a handle or press of a button.
- Drainage: Without a drainage system in place, your house would quickly get flooded after a couple of showers. Each fixture has its own drain that connects to the main drain line, where excess water and any other waste that goes down the drain will eventually end up in the city sewer or your own septic system. It’s important to make sure that your drains are cared for properly because if they get backed up and start overflowing, it can be both a messy and smelly problem to deal with.
Common Problems with Plumbing
- Leaking Pipes: Especially common in colder weather but possible all year round, plumbing pipes generally begin leaking close to the joints. While a small leak may not seem significant. leaking can expand, and water damage can end up costing thousands to fix if not handled quickly.
- Dripping Taps: Dripping Taps are not only annoying, they can also increase your monthly water bill. If you have a dripping tap, some of the causes could be a problem with the 0 ring, a corroded valve seat, a worn-out washer, or the washer could have been installed incorrectly in the first place.
- Running Toilets: If your toilet is constantly running it can waste hundreds of gallons of water per day. Toilet running is caused by eroded toilet flappers, short flapper chains, or a malfunction with the float ball and arm in the toilet tank. If you have a severe toilet running problem, you’re likely wasting a lot of money on water you’re not using. Try to get help as soon as possible to stop your toilet from running needlessly.
- Low Water Pressure: Low water pressure in your home can be a very complicated problem. Causes can range anywhere from simply having a partially closed water meter valve, to a plumbing system that needs to be replaced. Take a look at your water meter valve and shut-off valve first, but if the problem isn’t there, it’s time to call in a professional plumber.
- Blocked Drains: Grease, hair, dirt, mineral build up. and other waste that goes down your drain can all contribute to clogs. Clogging is never fun. It smells bad, it backs up Leaving tainted water in your sinks and shower, and it’s a pain to deal with. The first thing to keep in mind with a clogged drain is to never use over-the-counter drain clearing chemicals. While these products promise a quick and easy fix. the reality is they can be extremely dangerous if breathed in and can actually damage your drain pipes. Better to call the pros and let them handle your drain clog the right way.
- Broken Water Heater: Replacing a major home appliance is never fun or convenient. but the experience can go just a little smoother if you can start preparing for such a major purchase before things head totally south. If your water heater is over 10 years old. your hot water is coming out rusty, it’s making a lot of strange noises. or you notice a leak. it may be time to look for a new water heater.