Understanding Your Home Plumbing System

When problems arise with your plumbing, it is beneficial to have a basic understanding of the systems in your home. Having knowledge of the associated pipes, valves and components will help you resolve simple issues and effectively communicate with professional technicians to repair larger problems. No matter what type of home you live in, you have two different plumbing systems that control the input and output of water.

Home Plumbing Systems

With all of the appliances and fixtures that require water in your home, you may think that plumbing is complicated. There are actually only two systems in your home that control all of your water needs. One system, known as the potable water supply, provides your home with fresh water. The second is the drainage system, which removes waste water from your home. The two systems never intersect so that there is no risk of contaminating your clean water supply.

Potable Water Supply

The first system in your home controls the inflow of water and provides you with clean water. The following appliances and plumbing fixtures are hooked up to your potable water supply.

  • Kitchen and bathroom sinks
  • Toilets
  • Bathtubs and showers
  • Dishwasher
  • Washing machine
  • Outdoor faucets for hoses
  • All areas with running water

In city and suburban areas of Sarasota, FL, your potable water comes from a regional treatment center. Rural homes rely on wells for clean water, but the piping is set up in a similar manner. This system consists of the following components.

  • Pipes – Underground connections supply your home with fresh water. The main pipe line connects to the shutoff valve. A series of pipes run throughout your home, underneath the floors and behind the walls. The potable water travels through these pipes as needed when you turn on faucets.
  • Shutoff Valves – The main valve controls your entire potable water supply, and other valves throughout your home control individual fixtures. During installations, maintenance or repairs, you or a technician will turn these valves off. Shutoff valves completely block the flow of water so that you can work on the pipes without soaking the area.
  • Water Meter – Before your home receives fresh water, the pipes deliver it through a water meter, which sits outside near your home. Water companies in Sarasota, FL make monthly checks of these meters to gauge your water usage.
  • Water Heater – Your main water supply connects to your water heater through a system of pipes. Plumbing systems are divided into hot and cold water lines. The hot water lines come from your water heater, and the cold water line comes directly from the source. Sinks, showers and washing machines are connected to both lines while toilets are only connected to the cold water line.
  • Faucets – Your sinks, showers and bathtubs are equipped with knobs and faucets that control the water. Hot and cold knobs pull water from the two different lines, and flowing water comes out of the faucet. When both knobs are on, the water from both lines mixes to create a warm temperature.

Drainage System

Many residents do not think about the water that goes down the drain, but it is actually entering your second plumbing system. This series of pipes and components removes waste water from your home and carries it to a treatment location. Drains feed used water into outgoing pipes that carry the waste into sewer or septic systems. Urban and suburban areas of Sarasota, FL, have sewer systems to manage the waste water, and rural homes have septic systems for sanitation. Your drainage system consists of the following components.

  • Drain Pipes – Any fixture in your home that has running water also features a drain with associated pipes. With downward angles, these pipes rely mostly on gravity to facilitate the flow of water. Waste water flows out of your home to the main waste and vent stack, which connects to an underground sewer line. These pipes run the contents to a city collector line or your septic system.
  • Drain Traps – According to state plumbing codes, every drain must feature a trap to prevent backflow. The trap is a U-shaped pipe that sits just below the drain and connects to the drainage pipes. Sometimes called a “P” trap, this pipe constantly holds water to prevent sewer gases from entering your home. If you look underneath your sinks, you can clearly see this curved pipe.
  • Drain Vent – The roof of your home features a drain vent that releases air into the drain pipes. The airflow ensures the proper movement of waste water through the system. It is important to keep this vent clear of debris to avoid slow drains and backflow.

Proper Plumbing Care

Maintenance of your home systems is important to prevent problems and ensure optimal water flow. Whether you are dealing with a small problem or an emergency situation, you should have some knowledge of your water fixtures. Before an incident arises, locate all of the shutoff valves in your home. In many situations, the first step is to turn these valves off before calling a professional.

Aqua plumbers gladly serve residents of Sarasota, FL, and surrounding areas to help manage their plumbing systems. We offer installations, repairs, replacements and maintenance. From minor toilet clogs to major water-heater emergencies, Aqua is available to help you with all of your plumbing needs.