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The Basics of Your Plumbing System

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When was the last time you really thought about your plumbing system? Most of us ignore it until there’s a leak or a block, but there’s a complicated system of pipes hidden all over your building. Let’s take a look at everything that goes into it.

Types of Pipes

To most of us, one pipe looks pretty much like any other, and it’s easy to assume they’re all the same. But your plumbing system is actually a variety of different pipes with different purposes.

The water main is the pipe that connects your house to the water source, whether it’s a municipal system or a well system. Once it splits, you get cold water lines and hot water lines that run from the water heater. To get the water out of your house, you’ll have the lines for the drain system, and the vents connected to them.

The last type of pipes don’t actually carry water, but that doesn’t mean they’re not part of the plumbing system. These are your gas lines. Like the pipes that deal with water, your plumber will be able to make sure these are run correctly and sealed to avoid any leaks.

How Water Gets Where You Need It

Water doesn’t just go directly from the water main to your faucet. It has to go through several stops along the way. The first one is the water meter, which is usually on municipal land, just up the pipe from your main shut-off valve. If you have a well, then it goes through the pump, then into your main.

First thing after entering your house, the water goes through any softener, filter, or purification system you have. Then the pipe splits to send some of the water to a water heater. If you have a central heater, this split happens once, then the heated water is run through the building. If you have small tankless heaters, then you only have cold water running through the house, and it will split off to the heaters closer to the faucet, shower, or appliance.

What Happens When You’re Done

Every person who’s had clogged pipes knows how important your drain system is, but most have no idea that it’s more than a pipe running to the sewer. The drain lines are designed to flow together without causing any back flow into other drains. And to keep the same from happening with your whole system, the cleanout (access to the drain lines) often has a back flow valve to keep the sewers from backing up your drains.

But when all of that water rushes down the drain, it has to be replaced with something, and that’s where vents come in. These pipes connect the drain system to the outside, usually through blackish pipes that stick up out of your roof. As the water goes down the drain, it sucks air through these vents behind it so you don’t have to worry about pressure problems.

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