Plumbing is the skilled trade of working with pipes, tubing and plumbing fixtures to provide potable water systems and drainage of wastes. It’s a vital part of every developed economy.
It’s a common mistake to try to DIY with plumbing issues when it’s best left to the pros. This is especially true with pressure-reliant systems like bathrooms, which rely on separate hot and cold piping to operate.
The Water Heater
The water heater, or tank water heater, is one of the most common plumbing fixtures in most homes. It heats the water that’s needed for showering, cooking and washing clothes, among other things.
The tank is a cylindrical, heavy metal vessel that holds 40 to 60 gallons of hot water. It also has a protective glass liner, and an insulating material on the exterior.
Gas-powered units use a flame underneath the tank, while electric models heat the water by using a heating element. Modern, high-efficiency units can use solar energy and other forms of renewable power.
Cold water enters the tank through a dip tube, and hot water leaves through a heat-out pipe. As the hottest water exits, it pushes cooler water further down in the heat-out pipe.
The pipes that bring fresh water and take wastewater away from your home are an important part of your plumbing system. They can be made of various materials, so it is essential to choose the right type for your needs.
The piping materials used in your plumbing can affect the quality of your water and the health of your family. Each material has its own pros and cons, so it is important to consider all of them before making a decision about which one to use in your home.
Copper is an excellent choice for piping, as it is rust-resistant and can handle high temperatures without breaking down. It is also easy to work with and comes in a variety of sizes.
The fixtures are the main plumbing items that are connected to the pipes and used for water delivery or drainage. They are usually made of durable materials like plastic, copper, porcelain, glass and stainless steel.
Each fixture has a drain to allow the water from the faucet or tub to flow out of the device, and a stopper that helps prevent the water from spilling out. Fixtures are designed for long, constant use, so they need to be resistant to rust and corrosion.
These fixtures also need to have vents, which help prevent a vacuum from forming in the drain line and keep the waste air out of the fixture. This is important for keeping the toilet working properly and the sink or shower from clogging up.
These fixtures also need to be sized according to Water Supply Fixture Units (WSFU), which are standard for the estimation of water demand in a building. WSFUs are calculated based on the flow rate and frequency of use.
Drains allow waste to be discharged from your home, to a sewer system or to surface water. They also serve as vents for airflow within the plumbing system, to prevent a vacuum that could cause slow or no drainage.
Unlike the supply line, the drains use gravity to move wastewater away from your home. This is because all of the pipes in the drainage system angle downward, which pulls waste away from the house and towards the municipal sewer.
Throughout the drain system, traps collect dirty water, and seal the pipe to prevent sewer gas from rising up through your pipes and into your home. This is done through a special component called a P-trap, which is shaped like a “P” and placed near the end of the drainpipe.