How Plumbing Works

Our customers tend to be the curious type, and like to know how plumbing works, so we thought our blog audience may enjoy learning the basics as well.

As ancient civilizations grew, systems were needed to keep the rising population healthy. Ancient inventors began to experiment with plumbing by employing the laws of nature to provide fresh drinking water and to remove waste from the cities.

Modern plumbing systems have built on what the ancients learned about how plumbing works. Then and now, plumbing systems use gravity, pressure, and the fact that water will always seek its own level to keep your home’s water flowing and fresh at all times.

Understanding the basics of how your home’s plumbing system works will help you determine the best time to call an experienced plumber.

Plumbing in the Home

Your plumbing system is made of two subsystems. One subsystem (called the water supply) brings fresh water into your home. The other subsystem (typically known as the drain-waste-vent, or DWV) takes wastewater out of your home.

Water Supply

Your home’s water supply system brings fresh water from the municipal water supply and routes it to your faucets, showers, bathtubs, and toilets. It will also route the fresh water to any of your appliances that utilize water, such as dishwashers, washing machines, and water heaters.

When the water arrives, it is under pressure. The pressure allows the water to travel around corners and bends in the plumbing pipes. It also allows the water to travel upstairs and anywhere else fresh water is needed. As the water enters your home, it passes through a meter, where the amount of fresh water you use is recorded.

An important factor to keep in mind when considering how your plumbing works is that all water arriving in your home is cold. Heating the water requires a well-maintained water heater. In it, the water can be reliably heated before being delivered to the hot water fixtures.

Drain-Waste-Vent (DWV)

After the fresh water is used, it becomes wastewater. The DWV system removes wastewater and sewage from your home by routing them to a septic tank or the municipal sewer system.

The drainage-waste part of the system does not rely on water pressure to do its job. Instead, all of the drain pipes angle downward, allowing gravity to help pull the waste along. As the waste flows down, it pushes any air in the pipes with it.

As the wastewater and sewage drain away, vents allow air to re-enter the drain pipes. This so the proper pressure for draining is maintained. Vents also help to dispel the sewage gases so they do not back up into the house.

Important Plumbing Components

Along with understanding how your plumbing works, you’ll also want to identify a few key components in your home’s plumbing system.

Identify where your main water supply shut-off valve is. This is typically located near the water meter, where freshwater from the municipal system enters your home. It’s a good idea to show all members of your family where the shut-off valve is located and how to use it.

You’ll also want to identify and show your family where each shut-off valve is for the individual fixtures and appliances in your home.

Contact Capital Care Plumbing for more information on how your plumbing works or to have an experienced plumber visit your home.



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