Plumbing serves one of the most basic purposes in our lives. We’re able to use water and flush out the waste because of a properly laid system. The earlier forms of such systems were seen even during early civilizations in several parts of the world.
But at present, the basic understanding of how such systems work and how to deal with minor incidents is missing. We just run to call a local plumber fearing water damage or take a drastic step and end up with even more damage. You can avoid all that by just being more aware of the plumbing system in your house.
How is the water system organized in a home?
For understanding the basics of a plumbing system, you must know how it’s organized in your house. There are typically two systems – one that brings the water supply to your house and fixtures and one that takes the waste to the sewer.
The former one is always under pressure, and that’s how it reaches on different stories and in fixtures that are much higher than ground level. The water enters your house through a main water supply line which then splits to reach several areas of your home. But before that, it has to pass through a meter that measures the amount of water you’re using.
Once the water runs through the water meter, it may get separated into two pipes – one of them goes towards the water heater, and one of them goes towards the fixtures that have the direct supply of cold water. The pipe from water heater also reaches the fixtures but the water, in this case, is at a particular temperature set through thermostat settings.
The main water supply valve is situated just near this meter. If you ever happen to face a situation where you have to cut down the water supply to avoid water damage, you will find the valve near the meter.
The drainage system is also laid out in the same manner as the typical water system is but its working mechanism is different. It doesn’t run under pressure. Rather, it’s the natural gravity pull that keeps the waste going until it’s out to sewer or the septic tank.
There are three essential components of drainage system – traps, vents and cleanouts that you must know.
- Vents: these are the pipe openings present at the top of your house’s roof. Their purpose is to facilitate the flushing out of water from the traps and pipes. In the absence of the vents (or in the case of blocked vents), the pipes won’t get cleared out and ultimately cause a clog.
- Traps: These are those S-shaped sections of the pipes usually visible below your sink. However, there are many more traps in your plumbing systems that aren’t readily visible. The purpose of such traps is to prevent the sewer gasses from rising and release into your house. Traps also help to restrict the flow of components like hair, grease, etc. that may cause a clog in the pipes.
- Cleanouts: These are plugs installed just near the traps and help to clean the traps without removing them from the drain.
Understand that for the drainage system to work properly, all of these components should work at an optimum level. Every fixture has a separate drain line that then combines into one single drain line that either goes into the sewer or septic tank. If it’s sewer (Which is the case in most of the urban societies), the entire task is done. Once the waste enters the sewer line, it’s mostly the responsibility of the municipal committee to take care of it. In the case of a septic tank, a cleaning out is required after every ten years or so.
Both the plumbing system and drainage system are completely separate, and things like bathtubs, sinks, toilets are all fixtures that serve the purpose of keeping these two segregated at all times.
What causes plumbing problems?
Name the plumbing issues you can think of right now. Mostly it will include clogs, a dripping faucet or a toilet that’s not flushing properly. You’re very close the complete answer to the question about possible plumbing issues. Most of the issues are basically these minor problems but with a varied intensity.
A small clog may make the water drain out slowly, but when it grows bigger, it may cause your toilet to back up. A dripping faucet may one day change into a complete damaged fixture and cause water damage in your house if it goes unchecked.
What causes clogs?
These are majorly caused due to items that we release into the drains. Things like hair, paper, bigger chunks of food; greasy oils, etc. are possible causes of clogs. Improper use of garbage disposal system is another major cause of clogging.
Another reason is corrosion of pipes which may cause clogging as well as leaks in the inner plumbing of your house. The latter is a very serious issue as it may go undetected for a long time and can cause damage to your house’s foundation as well.
The former issue happens mostly due to excessive use of cleaning chemicals. Not all cleaning chemicals are safe for the pipes. In fact, many drain cleaning chemicals often have corrosive properties and cause much damage.
What causes leaking faucets?
All the fixtures in your house are typical machines that use different components to run properly. Some of those components get loose over time and cause leaks. For example, a running toilet is due to a small component inside the water tank that either breaks or gets loose.
The answer to these issues is just to replace such tiny components.
If you are facing any other plumbing issue, it may be either an aggravated form of these two issues or caused due to an unlikely condition in your house. I would advise you to not to try and fix such a serious and unlikely issue and rather call a plumber for that. Other issues, you can try fixing as long as you know what you’re doing.
I think after reading this post, you have a much better idea of how the plumbing works in your house. Don’t you?