Important Plumbing Terms Every Homeowner Should Know

Important Plumbing Terms

Plumbing is not something most homeowners are trained in, so sometimes it may get a little confusing when your plumber or contractor starts throwing out these mysterious words regarding your home’s plumbing system. Well, fret not: we’re here to help by providing a list of plumbing terms that every homeowner should know. Read through and get learning some new words and phrases!

  1.  Shut-off valve: All plumbing fixtures, faucets, and appliances will have a shut-off valve. This valve is what you will flip whenever you need to turn the water off to do any water-related repairs. When you turn the shut-off valve for a specific fixture, it shouldn’t cause an issue with the water in the rest of your home. For example: if you need to do a toilet repair that requires shutting the water off, then you can turn the shut-off valve for just that toilet so that you can still use the water in the rest of your house.
  2. Backflow: Backflow is what happens when the water in your system is moving in the wrong direction. This is something that you don’t want, as it would mean that sewage would be coming back up into your fresh water supply. Drain systems should have a backflow preventer as a part of their makeup to prevent this from happening.
  3. Snake: No, not the danger rope animal. A snake is a tool that can be used to clear clogs out of your drain. Drain snakes are intended to clear out smaller pipes, like your sinks, showers, or tubs. This is done by gently pushing the snake into the drain, wiggling it around a bit, and pulling it back out with all the gunk.
  4. P-traps and S-traps: P-traps and S-traps are the part of your pipe that keep the sewer gasses from entering back into your home. The shape of the pipe will determine which term is used, but they function much the same way. The design will always feature a curve that is meant to hold a bit of water to catch the gas.
  5. Flow rate: Your flow rate refers to the amount of water flowing through your plumbing system.
  6. Flapper: The flapper is a piece of your toilet’s plumbing. This adjustable shut-off valve sits at the bottom of the toilet tank where all of the water is, and when it gets raised, all of the water flows out. This is essentially the part of the toilet that makes the toilet flush, as it’s attached to the handle.
plumbing terms

7. Plumbing drain: This is the technical term for any opening in a sink, tub, shower, washing machine, etc. that allows wastewater to flow out of your home and into the sewer. These drains may be open, or they may have a drain cover to help limit the debris that gets in.

8. O-Ring: An O-ring is a round piece of rubber that fits into your pipes and helps seal the valve.

9. Fitting: A fitting is what puts and holds two pipes together. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes, materials, etc. to go with whatever pipes you have and whatever purpose they serve.

10. Main: The water main is the line that provides your home’s water supply.

11. Overflow: This is when a clog somewhere in your drains causes water to fill up and flow out of the drain.

12. Septic System: This one is more important for those outside of the city. A septic system is used when your pipes aren’t connected to the city water line, but instead to a septic tank that is usually buried in the yard or tucked away at the back of the property. There are enzymes and bacteria that break down the waste that flows into this tank, and then the rest flows out of other pipes and into a septic field.

Enjoy your new knowledge and feel more confident when chatting with your contractors. Show off to your friends by throwing in random plumbing terminology to conversations, even! You knowing these words and phrases may not feel like much, but it will come in handy in a pinch. And remember, a good plumber will always explain anything that you don’t fully understand.