Whether you’re a new homeowner or “just left the nest”, it’s important to know the basics of your plumbing system. Having some baseline knowledge can save you time and money when it comes to fixing small problems, like leaky faucets or low water pressure. And, it can help you determine when it’s time to call for professional help. Here are some plumbing basics everyone should know:
Components of Household Plumbing
When it comes to household plumbing, it’s important to know about the different components. After all, it’s challenging to learn about how to perform maintenance and repairs if you aren’t sure what your plumbing system consists of. These are the basic components of household plumbing that you should know about:
Water supply system: The water supply system refers to the set of pipes that bring water into your home. In most homes, these pipes either connect to city water or to a well. If your home is connected to city water, you likely have a large “main pipe” that runs parallel to your road. If ever you encounter issues with the main pipe, you should contact a professional plumber as soon as possible.
Drainage system: The drainage system consists of a set of pipes and drains that carry wastewater away. There are three main components within your drainage system, which are:
Drain Pipes: These are pipes that are angled downward to use gravity to push wastewater through the drainage system. Drain pipes are usually larger than water supply pipes, which prevents them from becoming clogged while carrying away waste.
Drain Traps: Also known as P-traps, drain traps are U-shaped pipes that “trap” backflow. Since your drainage system connects to the sewer, you would smell sewage gases and other unpleasant odors if your plumbing system did not include drain traps.
Drain Vents: Drain vents are designed to regulate air pressure inside of your pipes so water and waste can flow properly. These vents usually open out of your roof and they work by releasing air into the plumbing system.
Fixtures: Fixtures are the final main component of a household plumbing system, and they consist of things like toilets, dishwashers, washing machines, showers, and faucets.
Basic Plumbing Maintenance & Repairs
Now that you know about the different components of household plumbing, it’s time to learn what you can do to keep your plumbing in great shape. Here are some basic maintenance and repair tricks:
How to locate and read your water meter. Your water meter is usually located outdoors, often in a small covered box on the ground near your property line. To access your water meter from this box, just lift up the lid. Inside, you should find what looks like an odometer. The numbers along the top will indicate how many gallons of water you are being billed for. Each water meter looks different, so if you are having trouble reading your water meter, ask your local plumbers.
How to use shutoff valves: Each fixture has its own shutoff valve, which usually looks like a small wheel or lever underneath the fixture. The most important shutoff valve, however, is the one that cuts off water from the main pipe. This valve is generally located near your water meter or in your basement. It’s crucial to know where this valve is and how to use it in case of an emergency.
How to unclog slow drains: If your water is draining slowly, you may need to unclog the drain. Some ways to do this include emptying the cleanout plugs or using a drain snake to remove any blockages. If the problem persists, it may be best to call a professional.
How to insulate your pipes in the winter: Water expands when it freezes, which means cold weather could cause your pipes to freeze, expand, and crack. To prevent this, we recommend winterizing your plumbing by shutting off water to outdoor faucets and insulating any exposed pipes.
Other plumbing tips: Some other ways to keep your plumbing in good shape include:
Putting strainers on your drains to prevent clogs.
Watching your water pressure and calling a professional if it dips too low.
Never flushing things like baby wipes, diapers, feminine products, and trash.
Scheduling regular maintenance appointments with your local plumbers.
Your Local Plumbing Professionals
Though all of this information is a great starting point in understanding your plumbing system and keeping it flowing smoothly, there are definitely some problems that should be handled by a professional. The experienced plumbers at Pacific Plumbing & Drain in Vancouver WA have the tools and expertise needed to answer all of your questions and address any plumbing problems you’re facing. We are dedicated to providing the best in quality, service, and price. Just call us today to schedule your appointment!