Plumbing 101: How Your Plumbing Works

Remember the days where you did your business in a bucket and tossed it out of a window in order to keep your home smelling fresh? No, you don’t – because modern plumbing turned those practices into a distant memory (and we are all grateful for that). Modern plumbing seems like a mystery; when you flush the toilet, where does it go? Why does cold water come out immediately, but hot water takes forever? Why is the pipe under the sink shaped like a U? Fear not, we are here to answer all the questions you probably never asked yourself about your plumbing. It’s time for Sin City Plumbing’s Plumbing 101: How Your Plumbing Works.

At its most basic, home plumbing is comprised of two parts: water coming in, and water going out. No matter how complicated your pipes may be, this is the core of what makes your plumbing work. Water coming in is through a massive main supply pipe deep underneath your home. It filters through a device called the main shutoff valve, which creates enough pressure in the water to push it through all the nooks and crannies and bends and twists of your home’s pipes. Water from the main supply comes in cold, which is why when you turn on your sink it’ll immediately run cool. If you turn on the hot water tap, the water needs to go through an extra step. Instead of being routed directly from the main supply, it filters through your water heater. The water heater (either a traditional tank or the new tankless variety) then heats your water and pushes it back through the path of the main supply line. This extra step takes a bit longer, which is why your shower doesn’t immediately pump out a soothing, toasty spray.

Getting the water out of the home is a bit trickier to your plumbing system than getting the water in. Wastewater, either from the toilet, sink, shower, or dishwasher is not pressurized. It flows by itself, and nothing is forcing it through the nooks and crannies of your pipes… Other than air, that is. You may have noticed on your roof that there are air vents that don’t hook to your A/C unit. These are for your plumbing. When you flush a toilet, rinse the dishes, or wash your hands, water flows down a pipe that’s been specifically designed to let gravity do the work. The air vents introduce enough air for the water to be able to flow, and the twist of, for example, the U-bend pipe underneath your sink causes the water to flow with enough momentum to be pushed downward into the sewer line. This sewer line then continues the flow and pumps your dirty, undrinkable water into a septic tank stored far in the distance.

While we could go on for days about the intricacies of piping and traps, this is only plumbing 101. The basics of your home plumbing are that water comes in under pressure and leaves without pressure. It comes from the main supply line and leaves via the main waste line. When people are nervous about their plumbing, it’s understandable: a lot can go wrong within all the smaller pipes that line your home. Being nervous is fine, but never be intimidated by a plumbing problem. With the right help, anything can be fixed.

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