Few homeowners pay much attention to their plumbing when it works well. Turn a spigot and water comes out at the right temperature and pressure. Flush the toilet and whatever’s in the bowl goes away forever. The washing machine gets the clothes clean. But when something goes wrong with the plumbing, few things are as stressful.
Our professionals at Plumbing & A/C Medic, Inc. find that it helps to tell our customers the rudiments of their plumbing. Here it is:
There are three parts to a plumbing system. They are the freshwater supply that operates under pressure and delivers hot and cold water to fixtures throughout the house; the drain system, which carries water out of the house using the power of gravity, and the vent system. Vents draw in air from the outside to replace the air that the water displaces. If this didn’t happen, water would be sucked out of the traps. This system is combined and called the drain-waste-vent or DWV system. Most houses today are connected to a municipal waterworks, though houses in rural areas may get their water from private wells.
The pipe that delivers fresh water splits when it enters the house. One branch goes to the cold water fixtures, and the other goes to the water heater. Then, the hot water heater line also branches out when it leaves the water heater and parallels the cold water lines. This ensures that both hot and cold water is delivered to sinks, showers, tubs, and the washing machine. The toilet and the spigot that connects to the garden hose do not need hot water.
Water that goes down the drain enters the DWV system. The drain pipes are installed on a gradient, which allows gravity to take wastewater to the main drain or sewer pipe.
Gas pipes are also considered part of the plumbing. Gas pipes are usually made of steel or copper. They run between the gas meter and an appliance that uses gas. This could be the stove, the water heater, or the clothes dryer. We tell our customers that if they think there’s something wrong with their gas line they need to call in a professional. Problems with pipes that bring in hot water should also be left to professionals.