The Basics of Plumbing

Joe’s Plumbing involves the installation, maintenance, and repair of piping systems. Plumbers are also responsible for testing water pressure, identifying leaks, and locating blockages.


When working on a new project it is important to create a plumbing diagram or sketch. A plumbing plan will help guide carpenters and plumbers through the process of installing pipes, fixtures, and other necessary components.

A home’s plumbing system brings fresh water in and drains waste out. This system is made of pipes, valves, fittings, and faucets. Keeping these pipes in good condition is essential for a home or business owner to ensure that their water supply line works well and avoid any emergencies related to drinking water. To do this, they need to know the basics about their water supply lines, approved materials, and potential issues.

A good drinking water supply line should be durable enough to withstand pressure and temperature changes and resist mineral buildup. This will reduce the chances of a pipe breaking and also prevent the recontamination of fresh water. It is also important for drinking water lines to have a smooth inner surface. This will reduce the frictional resistance of the water flow and make it easier for it to reach all areas of the house.

Copper is a popular choice for water supply pipes because it is sturdy, can handle hot and cold water, and resists mineral buildup. However, it is expensive and requires specialized tools to install. For these reasons, many builders have switched to other types of water supply pipes, such as CPVC or PEX.

When it comes to plumbing pipes, the type used depends on where they are installed. For example, a PVC water supply line is ideal for use in bathrooms because it is flexible and resistant to blockage. However, if you are using them outside, it is best to choose a CPVC or PEX tubing that has been rated for outdoor use.

Another common option for drinking water pipes is polyethylene (PE) or cross-linked polyethylene (PEX). These are often used in home water service lines, as they are resistant to freezing and thawing and can withstand higher water pressures. PEX and CPVC are also easy to install, as they can be cut to size with standard tubing cutters. They also have simple color-coding, so you can easily distinguish between hot and cold water pipes.

It’s important to understand that water supply pipes do vibrate when the water is turned on or off. This is because they’re connected to a water manifold, which regulates the flow of water to each fixture in your house. This is why it’s important to keep these pipes in good condition, as even a small crack can cause the water pressure to drop and affect your water supply.

Distribution Pipes

Pipes transport water from the point of supply, which may be a treatment plant or an underground reservoir, to the customers’ buildings or residences. This network of pipes is commonly referred to as the water distribution system. The water distribution system consists of transmission or trunk mains, distribution lines, service lines and premise plumbing.

Transmission mains generally convey large amounts of water over long distances from the water treatment plant to a city’s storage tank. These pipes are often much larger in diameter than the distribution line pipes that follow city streets. A number of control valves are used to maintain a constant pressure and flow within the distribution network. These include pressure-reducing, pressure-sustaining and relief valves as well as flow-control and throttling valves. A network of valves is also required to isolate individual segments of the pipeline for maintenance and repair purposes.

The water distribution pipe network must be sized to deliver the design flow rate of potable water at all points in the system with sufficient head pressure. This is achieved by using a hydraulic analysis of the available driving head, which includes in-line losses to friction (based on the roughness or smoothness of the interior pipe wall), the minor loss due to all the pipes’ fixtures and appurtenances like bends, tees, meters, flanges and joints, as well as the elevation differences between the distribution line and the point of connection at each customer’s property.

Typically made of copper or PVC, the service laterals are the pipes that connect the transmission or distribution main to each building or residence’s water meter. The service laterals are sized to keep the distribution system’s design pressure at each point in the network with minimal in-line loss due to friction and a maximum of minor loss due to the elevation differences between the service laterals and the water transmission or distribution mains.

The pipes that drain sinks, tubs and toilets are called wastewater piping. This piping is not pressurized and requires vents to admit air in order to properly drain the waste. It is important to ensure the integrity of the wastewater piping because any leaks or breaks can result in the contamination of drinking water. This contamination is often the result of cross connections, which occur when non-potable water or contaminants enter the potable water system through submerged plumbing fixtures.

Waste Pipes

The waste pipes (also known as drains or waste line piping) are used to convey the wastewater and solids that are produced by toilets, washing machines, sinks and bathtubs out to the sewer. They connect to the drains of each fixture and are usually larger in diameter than the water supply pipes. Like water pipes, plumbing waste lines should be made of a non-corrosive material to prevent damage or contamination from chemicals in the waste.

The piping should also be properly sealed to reduce the risk of bad smells coming up through the drains. This is typically done with a P-trap, which is a curved section of pipe that sits beneath the fixture drain. When the fixture is flushed, the water in the trap fills to create a seal that keeps sewer gasses from entering the home. In some cases, a venting system may be required to maintain this seal and allow air into the plumbing system.

Many older properties still use separate soil and waste systems, although this is becoming increasingly rare due to the advances in plumbing technology. Newer properties will often use a single piping network where all the drains are connected to an internal soil stack and only the toilets will be connected to a separate drainage system.

Unlike the soil pipes, which can be fitted in a variety of materials, most plumbing waste pipes are now made from plastics. Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) and Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene (ABS) are the two most common choices. These pipes are available in a range of colours and sizes to suit different requirements.

Engineers size the waste pipes according to the number and type of fixtures they are serving. They are generally laid out as straight and direct as possible to avoid the buildup of solids and clogging. They are also angled gently, rather than sharply, to minimize the risk of blockages.

In addition to drains, waste pipes are usually connected to vent pipes that lead out of the house. These vents help to equalize the pressure in the plumbing pipes and keep odors from being carried back into the home through the drains. The vents should be large enough to encourage aerobic sewage digestion, and discourage noxious anaerobic decomposition.


A plumbing fixture is an exchangeable device connected to a plumbing system to deliver water or drain waste. Examples include toilets, bathtubs, sinks, showerheads, and faucets. Plumbing fixtures are generally manufactured with high-quality materials that are durable and long-lasting. They also feature attractive finishes and colors that can complement the décor of a room. Some even come with advanced features and functionalities such as automatic shut-off systems, touchless sensors, and water-efficient designs.

While some fixtures serve utilitarian purposes like disposing of human waste and supplying water used for washing, others are designed for aesthetics and comfort. For example, faucets and showerheads come in a wide variety of styles from ornate traditional to sleek contemporary. They also have a variety of finishes and installation types that can complement any bathroom or kitchen design style.

For safety, most plumbing fixtures are fitted with a check valve that stops the flow of water in case of a ruptured line. The check valve also prevents backflow, which is the reverse flow of sewage or water. It is important to install these devices in accordance with the local plumbing codes and standards to avoid potential health and sanitation issues.

The plumbing codes specify the minimum height and depth of plumbing fixtures for drainage, as well as their location within a building. For instance, toilets should be installed at least 6 inches away from wall studs, while showers and tubs should be mounted on a sturdy base to prevent leaks. Moreover, the plumbing code requires that all fixtures be properly vented to ensure adequate water supply and prevent sewer gas from entering the living space.

For proper functioning and maintenance of plumbing fixtures, it is essential to consider several factors including their durability, functionality, quality, and aesthetics. Also, remember to keep in mind your budget when choosing the plumbing fixtures for your home. It is also advisable to choose fixtures that are easy to maintain and clean. For instance, opting for a faucet with removable aerators and accessible parts can make it easier to perform routine maintenance tasks.