A Brief Guide To Home Plumbing Basics
Since its invention and implementation in the early 1800s, modern indoor plumbing has become an indispensable part of daily life for most. Yet despite being so ubiquitous and heavily relied upon, plumbing systems aren’t exactly something most people are thrilled to learn about. After all, with all its complexity, plumbing can be intimidating.
But it pays to have a basic understanding of plumbing systems, their components, and how they work. Homeowners will be better equipped to spot signs of trouble, handle any problems that arise, and take care of their home’s plumbing over the long haul armed with this knowledge. So homeowners can keep reading to learn the ins and outs of home plumbing!
Where Does the Home’s Water Come From?
Unless it draws water from a private well, a home’s water supply comes from a local reservoir, which gets its water from an aquifer, lake, river, or another large water source. The municipal utility department then treats it and pumps it all over the city in the city’s main water line. From here, the water runs through the house water main (a smaller underground pipe) to the home’s water meter.
The water meter measures the flow rate of water entering the home to determine water usage, which lets the utility company know how much to charge the homeowners. Next, the water passes through the home’s main shutoff valve and water pressure regulator, then splits into two separate lines - the cold and hot service lines. The hot water service line goes through the water heater before making its way to each fixture that uses hot water, while the cold water service line heads straight to every fixture in the house.
As the water gets used, it becomes wastewater and flows down the drains. Each drain has a P-trap below it, a curved section of pipe filled with water that acts as a seal against sewer gases. After passing through the P-trap, wastewater flows down to the home’s lateral line, the main drainage pipe to which all of the home’s drains lead. The lateral line carries wastewater to the city sewer main, which brings it to a sewage treatment facility.
An Overview of Plumbing Fixtures
A plumbing fixture is essentially any device connected to the plumbing system to deliver or drain water. Toilets, faucets, hose bibs, showers, tubs, sinks, water heaters, dishwashers, washing machines, and water heaters are all common plumbing fixtures. Even though most fixtures connect to both the supply and drainage systems, they are designed to prevent direct contact between the two due to the risk of contamination.
Plumbing fixtures don’t typically last as long as the more permanent components of a plumbing system (i.e., pipes), primarily due to general wear and tear. However, many fixtures become hopelessly outdated before they break down. Older toilets, faucets, and showerheads (pre-1990s) have extremely high flow rates, which can needlessly send hundreds or even thousands of gallons of water down the drain every month. Aging dishwashers or washing machines often guzzle both water and electricity.
Fortunately, plenty of water-saving fixtures available today can help homeowners dramatically reduce their water usage, and energy-efficient appliances to reduce energy consumption. Especially for older homes, upgrading to newer, more efficient fixtures can result in major savings on utility bills.
Benefits of Plumbing Maintenance
Like anything else, plumbing systems require periodic maintenance to function properly. Without it, things will start to go wrong over time. Grease, soap scum and debris will accumulate inside drain lines, forming clogs. Corrosion will eat away at copper supply lines and create small water leaks. Sediment will build up inside the water heater tank, diminishing its heating capacity and damaging the tank wall.
Homeowners can avoid clogs with regular drain clearing, both DIY and professional. Homeowners can also drain the water heater tank and flush it to remove sediment. Still, it’s best to hire a pro for other water heater maintenance tasks like cleaning gas burners and testing electrical components. Professionals can also perform thorough plumbing inspections to catch leaks and other potential issues as early as possible. Routine maintenance can help save water and money, extend the life of fixtures and appliances, and prevent costly problems - so it doesn’t take a scholar to know that maintenance is worth it!
About RupCoe Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning
RupCoe Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning is a family-owned and operated business serving South Plainfield, NJ, and the surrounding areas for over 30 years. They offer upfront pricing, fast turnarounds, and a satisfaction guarantee. Call them today for plumbing services in South Plainfield, NJ.
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