The Basics of Plumbing
A plumbing system involves a complicated system of lines with two purposes; to bring us water and eliminate waste. A clear plumbing plan can minimize extra expenses and save time in the long run. The plumbing pipes that bring fresh water into your home and carry waste out of it are essential for your family’s and your pets’ health and safety. These pipes connect your house to the city or county-managed water supply and sewer system. Your house plumbing is connected to these pipelines through a network of pipes that may include copper, PVC or PEX. These pipes direct your wastewater to the municipal treatment plant if you live in an urban area.
In the past, galvanized iron piping was a staple to in-home plumbing systems. However, this rigid metal pipe deteriorated and gave way to more advanced solutions, such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) piping and polyethylene cross-linked (PEX) piping. Both types are known for their durability, versatility and blockage resistance.
Professional plumbers still prefer to use PVC tubing in new construction and remodel projects because it is flexible and easier to maneuver than copper pipe. Additionally, it doesn’t leave behind traces of rust or corrosion in the water. These pipes are commonly used in water supply lines and to connect fixtures like toilets, sinks and showers to the main plumbing line.
These durable plastic pipes are lightweight and cost-efficient compared to other pipe materials. They can be joined with soldering, brazing or a compression coupler. They are available in a wide range of sizes and lengths to accommodate different household needs. This versatile pipe can be found in residential kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms.
This durable and corrosion-resistant pipe is commonly found in water supply, gas supply and sewage lines. It is most commonly sized in 2-foot and 10-foot lengths with diameters of 1/2 inch to 1 inch. Copper is durable and aesthetically pleasing, but it’s typically more expensive than other pipe materials. This pipe is often installed in copper repiping projects and can be joined by soldering, brazing or a push-to-connect fitting.
These flexible plastic pipes are gaining popularity in residential homes because they’re easy to work with and cost-efficient. They’re also flexible enough to maneuver through walls, ceilings and crawl spaces without compromising their strength. They’re also color-coded, allowing plumbers to easily identify pipes for hot or cold water.
Sewer pipes are used to convey household waste to a municipal sewer system. Household waste contains sewage, paper, food scraps and other organic materials that need to be processed by the water treatment plants. In rural areas, where the cost of installing a municipal sewer system would be prohibitive, residents may install their own private septic systems. The pipes running underground from each home connect to a main pipe that is usually buried in the street.
When it comes to the type of material for sewer pipes, there are many options. Historically, clay and lead pipes have been used, but today building code regulations mandate that most household sewer lines be made of PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) or ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene).
These two types of plastic pipes are durable and resistant to damage by tree roots. They also don’t crack easily and have a long lifespan. PVC and ABS are also safer than iron or concrete because they won’t rust.
Other types of pipes that are used for the transport of sewage include concrete, cast iron and ductile iron. These pipes are strong, but they aren’t as flexible as the other plastics. They can withstand high amounts of pressure and are impervious to corrosion.
In addition to the three basic types of plumbing pipes, there are also specialty pipes like those that are used for septic systems. These are thicker than other pipes, so they can withstand the pressure of heavy waste and gravel that might be placed inside them.
If your property is having problems with its sewer line, you can have Harris Main and Water send a video camera down the drain to assess the situation. A professional plumber can then recommend the appropriate replacement pipe. Depending on the situation, it may be necessary to install a new manhole, as well. This is especially true if the current line is old and damaged. A new sewer line isn’t cheap, but it’s much cheaper than the alternative of having to remove and replace your entire sewer system. This could cost you thousands of dollars in repair bills and lost property.
A water heater is the big metal cylinder you see in most homes. It keeps a reservoir of hot water on hand for showers, washing clothes, and cooking. The water heater also heats water as it travels through pipes to your sinks and faucets. A water heater’s thermostat controls the temperature setting of your hot water. You can save energy by turning down the water heater when you’re not using it.
Water heaters come in many styles and sizes. The most common is the standard tank water heater. It typically lives in the basement, garage, or a utility room. It has a large volume of heated water on standby, holding anywhere from 20 to 80 gallons. Tank water heaters operate with gas or electricity, and they’re typically fueled by either propane or natural gas.
Energy-efficient gas and electric tank water heaters meet the requirements of the Energy Star program by employing intermittent pilot ignition systems with automatic flue dampers or baffle blowers. They also use low-wattage heating elements or high-efficiency gas burners. In addition, they have insulation to reduce energy loss and a sacrificial anode rod to retard corrosion.
Other types of water heaters are used to provide a steady supply of hot water for space heating, cleaning, and food preparation. These appliances may use oil, wood, electricity, solar energy, waste-gas from an internal combustion engine, or geothermal energy to heat water. They’re also known as water boilers, hot-water tanks, geysers (Southern Africa and the Arab world), or calorifiers.
Other types of water heaters include batch and on-demand units that heat water as it flows through a pipe. Batch units typically apply heat to cold water in a tank on a continuous basis until the tap is turned off. On-demand heaters warm water as it passes through a heated element or tank, and they’re more efficient than batch heaters.
The plumbing stack, sometimes called the vent stack or sewer line vent, admits air to the drain lines and prevents sewage from backing up into your home. It also gets rid of odorous sewer gasses and helps the water to flow through the pipes. If the tee fitting is clogged by hair, debris or other solids or a p-trap is empty, this will not allow the air to pass and the wastewater will back up into the drains connected to it.
In older homes, the plumbing stack can be made of galvanized steel or cast iron, and these materials are prone to rust and corrosion. In newer homes, a more durable material such as PVC has replaced these old drain pipe materials.
While most drains are located on the bottom floor of your home, the plumbing stack is above them all. This is why the tee fitting at the top of the stack has a slightly upward angle, allowing wastewater to flow down and up through the p-trap while the sewer gases rise up and out through the vent.
This plumbing stack tee is the most likely place to get a clog, especially if you flush other solids down toilets or drains such as paper towels, wet wipes, food scraps, feminine hygiene products, diapers, and condoms. These solids can stick to the inside of the tee and build up over time. Eventually, they can clog the whole stack or a section of it.
A clogged stack may be noticed as bubbling or gurgling noises coming from the drains in your home. It is also possible to smell a foul odor, which means that toxic sewer gases are being released into your home.
A professional plumber will need to inspect the stack to determine where the clog is. They will need to go on the roof to look at the vent and possibly use a snake to clear the clog. They will also need to find the clean-out on the stack, which may be walled over or covered, and they will need to ensure that it is large enough for all your drains to connect to.