Have you ever sat back and considered how the plumbing in your home works? How does water get from outside your home to come out of the faucet? Why is there are separate hot and cold systems? What is involved in the overall plumbing routine? We know it’s a collection of pipes, pumps, and so on, but it’s not something we think about often until things go wrong. As we shall see, the basic ideas and mechanisms behind plumbing systems are actually quite simple, so let’s begin by taking a look at some of the basic ideas that allow your domestic plumbing system to do its job.
How Cold Water Plumbing Works in Simple Terms
A plumber is trained to understand exactly what goes on in the plumbing routine, but we want to look at things in basic terms. For a start: plumbing systems rely on gravity, on pressure, and also utilize water’s natural tendency to find its own level. That’s the first part of the basics. Now let’s move on to look at the actual system and components that are in your home.
Your plumbing system comprises two systems that, while separate, are connected. One is there to bring water into your home, and the other is there to take away the wastewater that we produce every day. If you imagine water coming into your home from external pipes: how does it get to the tank or where it needs to be, as it cannot use gravity?
The water entering the home is pressurized to a level that enables it to reach where it needs to be. This water comes into the home ready to use – having been treated and filtered along the way – although many homes install a filter for drinking water. This is the water that we use for drinking, cooking, bathing, and any other use such as watering the garden.
If your cold water system uses a tank it will be high in the attic of the house. This is where gravity comes into play, as when you turn the faucet on it simply falls through the pipes and fills your sink, bath, or wherever it needs to go. That’s the basics of the cold system, now let’s talk about the hot water system.
The Hot Water System Explained
Now that we have covered the basic ideas of plumbing it’s important we look at the warm water system. This requires an extra step, in which cold water from outside the home or from the tank is sent through a boiler. This heats the water to around 140F, which is the average for hot water usage in homes.
From the heater, the water is carried by hot water pipes to the appliances – a dishwasher or washing machine, for example – or faucets where it can be used for many different things.
That’s the bit to do with water coming into the home, now let’s consider that wastewater that is taken away once we have used it.
The Waste Water System
Taking wastewater away from the home is an essential part of the process. In this respect, plumbing is vital in keeping the inhabitants of the home safe. Wastewater needs to enter the sewerage system for treatment, and to this end, it is taken out of the home by a separate system of pipes that send it to processing plants by way of the sewer system.
It is essential that the pipes for this system within the home are maintained and kept clear, as any blockages can lead to floods which may endanger health. The wastewater pipes work on a gravity basis as they are angled slightly down, so do not require pressure to take the water from the house.
There are also vents involved in the domestic water system as these are needed to help release gases and pressure that could otherwise result in damage to the system. Also, you will find a meter and stop valve, the first to monitor water usage and the second to cut off the water should there be a problem preventing floods.
That’s pretty much the basics of any domestic plumbing system and, as you can see, it’s quite simple yet as it is a vital part of living, it needs to be maintained by a professional in case of problems that can be exaggerated.
Now that you know more about how your plumbing works you can do more to keep it running smoothly, and perhaps be more careful with usage. One of the biggest causes of blockages, for example, is people flushing things down the toilet that are either solid or – unlike paper – do not break up, and that’s something that can be avoided. That’s plumbing for you, and we hope this article has helped.