There are a lot of pipes, drains, fixtures and appliances in your West Side home carrying out some pretty incredible tasks. For most people, plumbing is just another system that makes their lives easier. But, if something goes wrong, it’s important that you know exactly what to do and for that, you need to know how your system works.
Plumbing is based entirely on the properties of gravity and water pressure. A plumbing system has two basic systems – one that brings water in and one that removes that water once you’ve used it. To bring water into your home, it is pressurized. With enough pressure, it can travel against gravity, rising in the pipes to your fixtures.
Every fixture in your home has a valve on it that allows you to shut off the flow of water when making repairs or if there is an emergency. If the emergency is big enough, you can turn the main water supply valve off outside your home as well.
While the water coming into your home is relatively simple – pressurized cold water goes directly to the fixtures and hot water comes from your hot water heater – the drainage system is slightly more complicated.
Once water has exited the faucets in your fixtures, it is no longer pressurized so gravity is needed to remove it. Each drain consists of a few basic parts – the flange, tail piece, trap, and drain extension. When you put water down a drain it goes into the trap and flows into the drain extension, eventually to the sewer line.
The trap is designed to always hold a small amount of water so that sewer gasses cannot back up into your fixtures. Vents are installed in your home as well to ensure there is always air in the plumbing system. That air ensures a vacuum doesn’t generate. If it did, water couldn’t flow out of the house. It’s the same as pouring from a small hole in a can – if you poke a hole in the opposite side, it flows much faster because air enters the can to displace the liquid.
A plumbing system is surprisingly simple to work on if you understand the basics. But, that doesn’t mean a professional isn’t needed for most major jobs. Because a single fixture or pipe can have an impact on the entire system and because water leakage can be incredibly damaging, it is best to call a professional whenever you need a second opinion or are unsure you can handle it on your own.