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Understand Your Home’s Plumbing System

With August marking the unofficial wind-down of summer and the start of back to school, there’s plenty of learning going on. While we enjoy our children getting the brunt of that education, sometimes homeowners and adults need it too!

In honor of August being back to school month, we’re going to teach you about the basics of how your plumbing system works. As complex as our plumbing in our homes really is, we’ll break it down easy for you. So welcome class, let’s get started!

What Goes Into a Pipe System?

pipesystem Our pipe systems consist of two subsystems, one takes clean water in and the other takes wastewater out. The supply system that brings in clean water is under pressure so it is very important to know where your main shut off valve is in case a pipe bursts and you have to quickly shut off the water before you house floods.

Some fixtures have stop valves (tubs, toilets, and sinks) so if the problem is confined to there you don’t have to shut off your entire water supply. So it’s important to make sure that all your fixtures have stop valves.

Now our main water supply is always cold water ready. For our hot water needs, that’s where our water heater comes in. It takes an extra step which is why hot water usually takes a second or two to come through.

The pipes that all this water is traveling through usually consist of 3 materials:

  • PVC (polyvinyl chloride)
  • Copper
  • PEX (cross-linked polyethylene)

How’s Your Kitchen Plumbing Connected?

kitchenplumbing Our kitchen plumbing works in very intricate ways, from our refrigerators, dishwashers, garbage disposals, and sinks.

Dishwashers are pretty interesting appliances, they don’t actually fill up with water, but pump water through jets after heated up by a heating element.

The dishwasher’s shutoff valve should be underneath the sink. There will be more than one valve under there, just locate the intake hose going into the dishwasher itself and it will be on there.

Refrigerators are pretty simple, the intake pipe for the ice maker can be found behind the fridge, along with the shut-off valve as well.

Did you know that our sinks have a “trap” that stops sewer gasses from coming into our house? It’s a fallen “P” shape and water is held there and acts like a seal. Also, our dishwashers and garbage disposals usually drain from the same pipe, so let’s get into those.

Drainage Keeps Wastewater Away

drainage Remember how in the beginning we talked about the two subsystems in your plumbing? Well, one of those is our drainage. Our drainage system plays a very important part and getting our wastewater out of the house.

Unlike our main supply that relies on pressure to get clean water into the house, our drainage systems rely on gravity to get it out. The little vents you see on top of your house provide airflow into the pipes to give that extra “oomph” for our drainage system to work properly.

Since these pipes are usually going downward sewage fumes can come back up into the house. That’s why our sinks have that fallen “P” shape that traps them.

Always Call A Professional

Now that you know just how intricate and complicated our pipes can be (and that’s just the beginning!) be sure to always call a professional before attempting anything on your own (and potentially end up with a bigger more expensive problem). We, at All Purpose Plumbing, are always glad to help, so give us a call for any questions or problems you may have.