Understand Construction Basics

Plumbing systems used to be made of cast-iron drains with brass supply pipes. Today, construction materials such as copper, PVC, and cross-linked polyethylene (or PEX) are combined to make up modern plumbing systems. So how does a plumbing system work?

Plumbing Materials

The type of construction material your system is made of does not determine how well your plumbing system works. The correct size, anchor, and positioning of the system is what matters in your home's plumbing system. For example, a continuous clog could be due to an inadequate drain slope that is too small. Does a faucet rattle and pulse every time you turn it on or off? It could be due to the way your supply pipes are anchored - supply pipes must be anchored every 6 feet to properly operate.

Although your hoses, valves, or appliances can break down, your home's fundamental plumbing system will last as long as your house does, if it is correctly constructed. Every drain-waste-vent (or DWV) system should have the following components, and work properly in order for your home's plumbing system to work.

4 Main Components

  • Supply System: As clean water flows through supply lines, it enters your house at a pressure of 50 to 60 psi. This is enough pressure to move around bends and travel upstairs - which is why it is vital to know where your main shut-off valve is. Built up pressure from a freeze or hairline crack can cause a pipe to burst. If you do not quickly shut off the valve, your house can flood in no time.

  • Stop Valves: You should make sure your plumbing system includes individual stop valves. Individual shutoffs allow you to quickly identify the problem without turning off the water supply to your entire home in an emergency to fix water damage.

  • Drainpipes: The dirty water exiting your drainpipes is pulled by gravity; but air that comes through the vents on your roof allows drainpipes to run smoothly. If no air enters these vents, then drainage water would have to be siphoned out of the traps.

  • Traps: The curved, S-shaped part of the pipe under a drain is the trap. When water flows from the sink or washbasin, it has enough force to exit the drainpipe, but an excess amount of water forms a seal to prevent sewer gas from backing up into your home. Traps usually have clean-out plugs to allow you access to remove and clean up a blockage or clog. Sewage removal from sewage damage can be prevented, but can cause costly repairs due to its contaminants.

You should have a professional plumber examine your home's pipes (usually located in a basement or crawlspace) to identify a constant clog or malfunctioning faucet. You will also understand more about how your plumbing system works!

More Info? Check out the Best Practices to Prevent Water Damage in Your Home to learn more!

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