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Plumbing Basics

THE PLUMBING BASICS EVERY HOMEOWNER SHOULD KNOW

Plumbing basics is knowing how the system works. If you are a do-it-yourself homeowner (and you should be), how-to-plumbing-jobs will be on your “To-Do” list at least once during the life of your home ownership.

With a little drive and some background knowledge, you’ll be able to recognize and fix many plumbing problems, no matter if you’ve just bought your very first home or you’re a seasoned baby-boomer looking to save a little money.

There are two systems to understand in regard to plumbing basics. The first is how the clean water comes into your home and the second is how it exits once its been used. The first is the supply line that brings water into your home under pressure for use. The water pressure at yourparticular home depends on (A) the elevation of your home and (B) how close you are to the reservoir or water tower which serves your home.

The closer you are, the lower the pressure will be. Similarly, the lower your home is—in relation to the reservoir—the higher your water pressure will be. Generally, its between 50 and 100 PSI (pounds per square inch).

Pressure regulators (left) may be installed (near the meter) to insure pressure stays within a certain range (between 50 and 60 psi) so as not to cause problems with appliances, pipes or fixtures within the home.

If your pressure is too low or too high and you have a regulator you may need to call a plumber. You own these things and are therefore responsible for their maintenance. If you don’t have a regulator and have an older home with water pressure lower than seems reasonable, the problem is most likely in the old galvanized or cast iron pipes, not used today. So maybe you should keep the plumber’s phone number handy anyway. Click on general plumbing supply pipes for more information.

The incoming line splits off into two—one going to your water heater tank, the other continuing on—to supply your home with both hot and cold water. Toilets and ice-makers use only the cold supply line. Most hot water tanks have a shut-off valve for emergencies, as does nearly every fixture in your home.

We now have “on demand” or “tankless” water heaters (right), which are small wall mounted individual heaters, activated whenever hot water is turned on. These save water and energy and allow the home to be plumbed using only one supply line. A home will have several—located near the baths and kitchen. No more long wait while hot water travels from the old water heater tank.

The second system to plumbing basics are the pipes that take the waste water out. These drain lines use gravity instead of pressure to take the used water (and all that icky stuff in it) out of your home—with pipes that bend and slope downward a minimum of 1/4 inch drop per one foot of linear travel (by code).

emergency plumber
Technically, I suppose, both systems are gravity fed, but thinking about each as presented here may allow you to deal with repairs and remodels more effectively. If you’ve ever experienced a leak in the “pressurized” system, it sure doesn’t seem like just gravity. And since gravity is so slow, and there are so many twists and turns in the drain line, you can see how clogs develop.

These plumbing basics are just that – basics. Most clogs, drips and leaks, which are the majority of plumbing problems, can be handled with the use of a few basic plumbing tools available online or at local hardware stores, big boxes and plumbing supply stores. Click on the link above for a list of homeowner “must haves.”

If you’ve decided to tackle at least the plumbing basic fixes and remodels, congratulations! You’ll find that its not really as hard as it looks and, if your building department allows the homeowners to do even plumbing basics and plumbing remodel work, you’ll save lots of money and gain a much deserved inner satisfaction!

To check with your local jurisdiction, search building dept your town, building codes your town or plumbing permit your town (ie. building codes buffalo ny) using the Bing Custom Search Box on the right of this page.

… for any questions, concerns or problems on a remodeling or landscaping project, just click the carpenter’s pencil above. We’ll get back to you within 48 hours with solutions or advice on where to get solutions.
We never charge for help or advice!.

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Updated: November 10, 2015 — 11:12 pm

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