Your house plumbing system explained


Your house plumbing system explained

Plumbing has been around for thousands of years, yet we still view it as some kind of magic. When we turn on the kitchen sink tap, the bath or the shower, how many of us actually know how their plumbing system works.

Well, if you’re one of the people who want to know more about their plumbing we have all the answers you need.

Of course, we have simplified things as much as possible and this will only be a very basic run-through. But don’t worry, although there might be differences between properties the basics remain the same.

Here is how your plumbing system actually works:

Of course we start with the absolute basics.

A typical house plumbing system is comprised of two sub-systems. First fresh water is brought in, then the dirty water (or waste water) goes out through the drainage system.

You might be wondering however, how does your fresh water reach you on the second or third floor? The answer is simple, the fresh water is under pressure, which allows it to travel up and around corners. If you have a water meter, the water will pass through it as it enters your home and your usage will be recorded. Close to the water meter you’ll probably find your main water stop valve (or stopcock). You can also look for it under the kitchen sink.

When the water enters your home, you can use it for your cold water needs. To access hot water, there is one extra stop your water should pass. A specific pipe carries the cold water to your water heater, where it is heated up and ready for usage by all appliances that might need it.

The water that you’ve used for your household needs becomes waste water, which has to be disposed of, using your drainage system. The drainage system is simpler to understand: it uses gravity to discard the waste water.

All wastepipes are made to go downwards, and this is how the waste water leaves your house. Gravity pulls he water down, until it reaches a sewage facility, or in some properties – a septic tank. It’s pretty simple so far, right?

Now, there is a little to be added. To function properly your drainage system also needs vents, traps and clean-outs. Vents are necessary because air is needed to help the waste water flow properly.

Traps are these S-shaped or curved bits of pipe you can see under the sink drain. Water can flow through the trap with enough force to go through it, but that additional bit that is left of it once you turn off the sink faucet, prevents sewer gas from entering your home. Every water fixture you have in your home will have a trap besides toilets, which are self-trapped.

If you want the water to safely leave your property, all components of the system need to be in working order. To fully understand your water system, go around your home and take a look at the pipes, how they connect and try to identify the traps and valves (without trying to disconnect or apply any pressure, of course).