Overview of a Home Plumbing System

A home’s plumbing system is designed to manage the distribution and removal of water throughout our homes. The plumbing system begins by supplying potable water from a well or water service line, and ends in the home’s septic tank or sewer system. A plumbing system also includes the furnace and radiators in homes with a boiler heater.

Components of a plumbing system include all the water pipes, fixtures (sinks, toilets, bathtubs, showers), and appliances that route the water from supply to disposal. Typically, the plumbing will include a variety of pipes and valves, gas, solar and electric heaters, filters, softeners and iron removers, as well as pumps, and faucets. The difficulty of a typical home plumbing system all may seem overwhelming at first, but in reality, a plumbing system is one of the most basic systems found in a home.

The various components that make up the plumbing system are all carefully designed to heat water, sometimes chemically treat water, transform it with detergents and acid, and polluted it with organic waste of all kinds. As a result of daily use, components of the system will break and occasionally require repair. Plumbing repairs are necessary only a component or appliance fails to work as it was designed, or a change to the home’s design is desired. Ordinary repairs include fixing a dripping faucet, unclogging a drain or toilet, or fixing a pipe that has frozen and burst. Changes to a home’s plumbing system are always made when renovating a bathroom or kitchen, or making home improvements of all kinds.

You don’t need to know how everything in your home’s plumbing system works, but it helps to know the basics of the system, what tools and equipment are commonly needed, how to be safe when working with plumbing, and how to avoid a plumber’s worst nightmare: an uncontrolled flood of water. Here are a few important things to know when starting a plumbing job:

– How and where to disconnect the main water supply.
– Where to turn off the water to the toilet, sink, tub, water heater, shower, or appliance that needs repair.
– Where the power panel is located for disconnecting the electricity to an electrically operated device, such as a water heater or pump. For safety reasons, you should locate the right circuit breaker and turn off the power before beginning any plumbing repair to an appliance such as an electric water heater.
– Where and how to turn off the gas supply for a gas operated water heater. You must also know how to safely re-light the water heater after all repairs have been made.
– If you are doing any work that involves the use of an open flame, you must take the proper fire prevention precautions and have fire extinguishing equipment readily available.

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