4 Plumbing Systems in Your Home

Plumbing Systems

The behind-the-wall framework of your home contains a complex system of pipes that bring freshwater in and drain wastewater out. It’s called a plumbing system and, like all systems in a house, it needs to be well-maintained for it to function properly. The basic components of the plumbing system are water-supply pipes, drainage pipes and vent pipes. Examining these pipes is one of the best ways to learn about what’s going on inside the walls of your home.

The pipes that bring in freshwater are called supply lines. They’re the first set of pipes you’ll encounter when inspecting your plumbing. Water gets to your home from a city water supply, a private well or, in some cases, an underground water tank.

Next are the distribution pipes that connect faucets, toilets and other fixtures to the supply lines. These are usually smaller diameter copper or plastic tubing that runs through the wall and floor of your home. You can also see them in the basement or crawl space of your home if you look carefully.

Once all of the freshwater has been distributed to your fixtures, it’s time for the waste pipes to do their work. Your drainage system, which is a separate subsystem from the supply system, relies on gravity and water seeking its own level to carry waste into the sewer or septic system. It’s often referred to as the DWV (drain-waste-vent) system and is tightly regulated by your local building codes.

4 Plumbing Systems in Your Home

A drainage pipe in your home usually slopes downward to the sewer line, which carries the waste to a treatment plant or septic tank. The sewer line then continues on to a regional or national sewage treatment or disposal system.

Your vent pipes, which are also part of your DWV system, keep sewer gases from building up in your home. Without venting, the pressure in your piping would build up until it bursts the pipes. Venting keeps this pressure from building up by directing sewer gases through a pipe into the air.

There are two common types of plumbing piping: copper and PEX (cross-linked polyethylene). Both are durable, safe and corrosion-resistant. Copper piping is still used in some homes, but PEX has been gaining popularity due to its lower cost and ease of installation. Both types of piping use a variety of tubing and pipe fittings, such as valves, elbows and tees.

For a quick plumbing fix, it’s important to know what type of piping your home has and how to shut off the water to each fixture. Most importantly, know where the main water shutoff valve is located and how to operate it. If your plumbing pipes aren’t functioning properly, it could mean a huge mess and costly repairs. To prevent this, make sure your family knows how to shut off the water and where the valves are located. You should also mark the location of the main water shutoff so it’s easy to find in an emergency.

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