As part of our Understanding Your Home’s Plumbing series of posts, we’ve talked about plumbing terms to know and tips for new homeowners. Next up: Learning how it all works together. It's important to put these plumbing definitions into context so you know how your plumbing system works.
The Four Water Systems
When you look at a building under construction, it’s not easy to figure out what does what in that bundle of pipes. In the average home, the pipe network actually represents four plumbing systems: (1) hot water distribution, (2) cold water distribution, (3)drain lines, and (4) pipe ventilation.
A rudimentary understanding of plumbing definitions and terminology can help put these systems in context.
- Hot-water riser. This is the vertical pipe that brings hot water to the upper floors of a house. (Cold-water risers do the same for cold water.)
- Water service pipe. This connects the public water supply to the house. (For more on this, and the dangers of contamination, see our blog post on backflow). If you hear rattling in your pipes, it’s probably not a ghost: Supply pipes need to be anchored every 3 to 6 feet (depending on the pipe) or they’ll thump every time a faucet is turned off.
- Fixture drain. This is the pipe that carries toilet waste to the branch; the branch drains wastewater to the waste stack. The building sewer pipe carries waste water from the waste stack to the sewage system (or septic tank).
- Overflow. This pipe drains water away from a fixture when it reaches a certain level.
The Pipe Network
The network of pipes should be as long as the house itself. A few other tidbits relative to piping:
Clean water comes into the house through supply lines (the water pressure should be 50-60 psi). Drains handle the dirty water—with some help from gravity. If they aren’t at the correct slope, they’ll clog. Air vents regulate flow and ensure that water is moving smoothly. Individual shutoffs on every water-based appliance aren’t mandatory, but they are a good idea. If there’s a problem, you can cut off the water supply to that appliance, and the rest of the house won’t be affected.
Expert Charlotte Plumbers
We know our way around that plumbing network! If you live within a 30-mile radius of Charlotte, consider E.R. Plumbing for all your plumbing needs inside and out. We’re available at 24/7 at 704-846-5371 or via our online contact form.
Quick question & answer: Are there plumbing definitions I should know?
Yes, understanding plumbing definitions helps you understand your home’s four water systems: hot water distribution, cold water distribution, drain lines, and pipe ventilation. For example, a hot-water riser is the vertical pipe that brings hot water to the upper floors of a house. A water service pipe connects the public water supply to the house.