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Home Plumbing Systems Explained

Home plumbing relies on the natural laws of gravity and pressure to deliver clean water and remove waste. Understanding these systems can help you minimize, if not avoid, the need to call Shreveport Plumbers for leaks and clogs.

Your home plumbing has two subsystems that bring in fresh water and take wastewater away: the water supply line and the drain-waste system.

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Home plumbing systems contain two main categories of pipes: those that bring water in and those that take wastewater out. Understanding how these systems work can help you avoid plumbing problems and emergencies as you make your new home your own.

The main water supply pipe, buried underground, brings municipal drinking water into your house from a public water utility or private well. It connects to a water meter that tracks your household water usage and charges you for the water you use. This is also where the main water shut-off valve is located. By turning this valve off, you can stop the flow of water to your entire home in case of a serious emergency like a burst pipe.

Water supply pipes then branch out to carry water to each of your fixtures and appliances, including kitchen faucets, showers, bathtubs, toilets, sprinkler systems, and dishwashers. Behind most of these fixtures are air chambers capped with caps that trap a column of air to cushion the force of onrushing water. Some plumbing systems even include a hot water heater, which keeps your faucets and showers flowing with the press of a button.

Every fixture in your house has a drainpipe that connects to the main drainage pipe. When you flush a toilet or turn on a sink, this pipe transports the waste to your city sewer system or septic tank. To prevent wastewater backups, these drain pipes are angled downwards and supported by a network of vents, cleanouts, and traps throughout your home.

To reduce the amount of water you waste, you can purchase and install low-flow faucets and toilets that have a EPA WaterSense label. These products are designed to be more efficient and can save you up to 20% on your household water bills. In some cases, you may also need to replace your existing plumbing fixtures with more efficient models. A professional plumber can help you determine if replacing your fixtures is necessary. They can also help you find ways to conserve water by locating and fixing leaks and optimizing your household plumbing systems.

A home plumbing system is comprised of two different subsystems—the supply and drainage systems. The drain system is responsible for removing waste while the water system brings in freshwater from the outside world and delivers it throughout the house. Fixtures like toilets, sinks, tubs, and shower receptors connect to the drainage system through a pipe that’s referred to as a fixture drain line. This type of pipe has a special drain trap that keeps sewer gases from entering the house and is positioned below the flood rim level of each fixture. This prevents nasty smells and is a critical part of a sanitary plumbing system.

Most plumbing systems use PVC or copper pipes for their supply and drain lines, respectively. Both of these materials have their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to longevity, durability, and resistance to corrosion. For example, PVC is commonly used for supply lines because it’s inexpensive and lightweight, while copper tends to be preferred for drainage lines because of its longevity and resistance to corrosion.

When it comes to a home plumbing repair, it’s often necessary to drain the entire system. This process allows you to work without the distraction of water in the way, which could complicate or even halt the repair procedure. It also ensures that any clogs or debris that are trapped inside of the pipes are completely removed and that the new repair can take place with complete success.

In order to properly drain your home plumbing system, it’s important to start by opening all of the faucets in your home and flushing every toilet. This will remove any remaining water that’s in the tank or bowl and allow you to inspect the drain line for any signs of damage or clogs.

Then, you’ll want to drain any appliances that use water, like your washing machine, dishwasher, or refrigerator. This will include removing any food or drink items from the dispensers, as well as turning off the appliance’s power source and draining the water supply line.

Next, you’ll need to locate and close the main shutoff valve for your home’s water supply. This is typically located in the basement or near your home’s foundation and should be clearly marked with a label to make it easily accessible in case of an emergency.

Vent pipes are a vital part of your plumbing system. They allow wastewater, sewer gases, and foul odors to escape your home through the roof. If they weren’t installed, your drains would clog, and your home could smell like a sewage dump. In addition to regulating air pressure, they prevent trapped gases and fumes from building up inside of your home, keeping the indoor environment fresh and safe.

You may have heard that your plumbing system needs to be vented, but you might not know why or where these pipes are located. These tubes are often located in the attic or walls, and you can usually see them sticking up through your home’s roof. Most plumbing systems use two types of vents: roof flashing and straight vent pipes. Straight vent pipes are used for most sinks, tubs, and showers, while roof flashing is typically used for water heaters and kitchen vents.

Despite what you might have been told by DIY explainers, your vent pipes are not primarily intended to let air into your plumbing system. In fact, it’s just the opposite: They are designed to allow your plumbing system’s air pressure to escape. Without this air, your drains will create a vacuum that can siphon water and waste back up into your fixtures, creating gurgling noises or even causing them to stop functioning altogether. The primary function of your plumbing vents is to help water move freely through drainage pipes by allowing air to enter and equalizing the pressure.

Regularly inspecting and cleaning your vent pipes can help keep them in good condition. A common problem with these pipes is that they can become obstructed by debris, such as leaves, twigs, and bird nests. In cold climates, they can also freeze and restrict airflow, resulting in clogs and leaks.

One of the most important things you can do to ensure that your plumbing system is working properly is to have it checked by a professional plumber annually. By performing a thorough inspection, your plumber can address any issues before they cause costly problems. Taking the time to invest in your plumbing system will reduce the need for expensive repairs and improve the longevity of your fixtures.

Your home plumbing system routes municipal water from the utility company to appliances and fixtures that use it. These include sink faucets, showers, bathtubs, toilets and washing machines. It also includes the drain-waste-vent system that carries used water and wastes to sewers or septic tanks.

The plumbing system also includes a water heater that is usually located in the garage, basement or a closet. It’s powered by either electricity, natural gas or propane. The water heater heats incoming cold water to hot temperatures, which it then sends to appliances and fixtures.

If you want to save money and reduce your carbon footprint, consider replacing your old gas or electric water heater with a newer energy-efficient model. You can choose from tankless, solar and hybrid models.

A standard water heater has an insulated tank that holds from 20 to 80 gallons. A dip tube brings cold water to the bottom of the tank, and a heating element or burner kicks on to start warming it up. As the water gets hotter, it rises to the top of the tank. The hot water outlet is then connected to your plumbing pipes so it can flow to your fixtures when you turn on a faucet.

In addition to checking for leaks, rust and signs of damage on your water heater periodically, you can help it run more efficiently by following a few simple tips. Keep the temperature set at a comfortable level to save energy. Replace your anode rod occasionally to prevent corrosion. Insulate the tank and pipes to prevent heat loss. Check and adjust the thermostat to a lower setting if your water heater seems to run too hot.

When you’re ready to buy a new water heater, make sure it meets all local plumbing codes for your area. A certified plumbing professional can advise you on the size and installation of your new unit and ensure it will be able to meet your household’s hot water needs. A plumber can also inspect your existing system to identify potential problems and repair or replace parts as needed.