If you are not a professional plumber, the terminology related to plumbing can be mystifying, but it’s extremely helpful to know the basics. This knowledge will help you better describe any issues to your plumber, will give you a better idea of the severity of an issue, and will allow you to compare quotes to determine a fair price for any work you need done – all of which save you time! Here are a few terms that can be especially useful to know:
1. Access Panel
This is a covered opening that allows access to your plumbing system. It will usually be in a wall or ceiling, close to a fixture.
Your drainage system will be comprised of a riser, stack (see #7), and main, along with several other sections referred to as branches.
The flow, or fall, of your pipes is the slope required for good drainage. This slope is called the pitch, while a completely vertical pipe is described as being plumb. An elbow fitting may be used to change a water line’s direction.
4. Inlet and Outlet
An inlet is an entry point to your plumbing system or an individual fixture. Most will be water inlets, although there are also inlets for air through the vents. An outlet is the pipe through which waste leaves a fixture or your system as a whole.
This describes the primary drain system or main water supply that all other branches of the system connect to. Your main line typically runs from the street to your home and partially under your slab, where it breaks into branches.
This refers to piping that runs between the stack and a drain or between a fixture and its source. A vertical pipe used for appliances like shower heads is called a riser. The phrase “horizontal run” refers to the distance between a pipe’s entry and exit points, measured horizontally.
In your drain, waste, and vent system, often called DWV, the stack is the main water supply, running vertically through at least one story.
This part of your drain line is curved, so unpleasant sewage odors are unable to escape. An S trap is the one connected to your toilet. Other fixtures that require drainage will have P traps.
Valves regulate your water flow. Some fixtures will have individual shutoff valves, allowing you to stop their supplies without affecting the rest of your system. When this controls flow to a faucet, it is known as an angle stop.
This is a pipe that balances pressure in a drainage system by allowing air to enter. There are various types, but their functions are largely the same. A coupling is a hood for your vent pipe, protecting it from weather-related wear and tear. Plumbing issues can sometimes be complex, so there may be aspects of a job that are difficult for your plumber to explain in clear terms. However, the more you know, the more control you will have over your system as a whole and any plumbing work that is carried out within your home.
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