Understanding Your Plumbing System and Things You Should Know How to Do on Your Own

Plumbing systems in the United States waste gallons of water every year in the United States.  Think of this as if you poured out around forty million large pools.  The sad part is most of the leaks do not require the services of a plumbing professional.  It is important to know when to fix a plumbing problem yourself and when you need a professional.  This is easy to accomplish when you understand the basics of your plumbing system.  

The Basics

How Does it Work?

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Plumbing systems are not as complicated as they seem.  If you look at the valves and pipes, at first glance the system can seem complex and overwhelming.  Understanding the basics, however, can help you navigate when to call the professionals and when to do it yourself.  The first thing to understand is that there are two main systems within a home plumbing system.  The first is the water supply system and the second is the drain-water vent system (also referred to as DMV throughout this article).  

The System Supplying Your Water Supply

The water supply system is made of pipes responsible for supplying your home with fresh water.  The system depends on pressure.  The water that enters the pipes and goes to the home comes from either a well or a city water system.  If you have city water, then there is the main pipe that is typically located parallel to the road in front of your home.  It is important to contact professionals if the main pipe is damaged because damage to this pipe can lead to fines and lawsuits.  

Some people are unable to access city water. These individuals typically have a well that pumps water to their homes.  High amounts of pressure are required to pump water from a well to an individual’s home.   The water is unable to reach the farthest parts of the home if the pressure is not high enough.  One of the first signs that there is not enough pressure is the faucets in your home.  Many different things can prevent adequate pressure.  Loose connections can easily be handed on your own.  If you have a leak or major block, calling a professional is the best way to make sure more damage does not occur.  

The water meter and main pipe are connected.  You should be able to locate the shutoff valve close to the meter.  This valve allows you to stop water flowing to your home, which is critical if there is a problem that needs to be fixed.  

Maintaining the System Supplying Your Water Matters!

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When piping is installed correctly it does not leak.  Plumbing systems do not last indefinitely and are susceptible to wear and tear.  There are times a professional may find that your piping needs to be replaced.  Water systems perform best under high pressures.  The downside to having adequate pressure is it makes your system susceptible to damage.  

For example, imagine the drainage system is leaking.  This causes damp problems.  When you leak into your water system, it lowers the pressure.  This means no showers and no flushed toilets.  Leaks are more harmful when they occur in the system supplying water to your home.  Because the system is sensitive, hiring a professional to handle leaks is something that should be seriously considered.

Explaining the Drain Water Vent System

There are good reasons the DWV and water systems do not overlap.  Bridges can be found throughout the system, however, where the systems meet one another.  These bridges are referred to by professionals as fixtures.  Most individuals call them by the names they call them in their homes.  Fixtures are things like the sinks, washing machines, faucets, and other appliances and structures that use water located in your home.  Fixtures are any point in the home that is using water.  Gravity is critical to the drainage systems’ ability to remove waste from a home.  Traps, pipes, and vents are the main components that make up the DMV system.  

What are the Elements of the DWV system and Drainage Pipes?

Drainage pipes are angled down so that gravity can assist in moving water to the sewage system.  The DWV system tends to be more complicated than the system supplying water.  The fact that the system relies so heavily on gravity comes with its cons as well.  Drainpipes are created and set up so that they can use gravity to assist them in their job.  The thing about the way the pipes are angled, down.  The pipes for the drainage system are also larger than the ones for water supply.  The larger size allows waste to be carried without the system becoming blocked.  

Drain traps are shaped like a U and prevent backflow from occurring.  They are responsible for keeping backflow from occurring within the plumbing system.  They consistently hold water because of their shape.  These pipes must consistently contain water.  DWV systems are connected to sewer lines.  Sewer gases will cause foul odours in your home without the presence of drain traps.  These traps allow for debris, hair, and grease to escape your home.   If the traps were not in place, the debris would clog the system.  Clean out plugs eradicate the debris from the system.

Think about what happens when you flip a water bottle over.  The water does not flow smoothly; it is all over the place.  This is what happens to water flow if a system is closed.  Drain vents.  These vent systems run through the roof of the home to the drainpipe. They operate by releasing air inside the plumbing system so that the drainage of waste from the home is smooth.  Damage to any of the drainage systems is shown by the DWV system operating less effectively.  Using less than quality materials in your systems can also impact efficiency.  

Tips for DWV System Maintenance

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The most common problem with the DWV water system is clogging.  Hair is typically responsible for bathroom clogging and grease for clogging in the kitchen.  Frequently emptying cleanout plugs can reduce the occurrence of clogging.  You should be conscious for signs you have a leak.  The piping for the DWV system is mostly hidden.  Looking for mould, foul odours, and damp ceilings can assist in identifying a leak.  It is important to remember that leaks can result in structural damage to your home.  If you are worried about a leak; a professional can help you check for one.  It is important to remember that you do not have to see a leak for it to exist.  

The Home’s Plumbing System

A home’s plumbing system is focused on the operations of the kitchen and bathroom.  The plumbing in the kitchen is mostly hidden within the walls.  Cold water and hot water are carried to the fixtures through the system supplying water.  If you do not know what you are doing, messing plumbing located inside a wall will result in a huge mess.  Bathrooms need pressure to operate correctly.  There are also separate systems for hot and cold water.  When pressure results to a point you are concerned about, call a professional. If operations are impacted, this typically means that there is a significant leak somewhere in the system.  If you attempt to fix it yourself without proper knowledge and experience, the problem is probably going to get worse.  

Basic Maintenance Tips

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So why do the things above matter?  Now that you are familiar with some of the most basic components of the plumbing system, you can be proactive with your plumbing system.  Here are some things you can do to thwart major, expensive, plumbing problems.  

When the Drains are Slow

Clogging typically takes time.  When you first notice that the water is taking longer to drain, you can act.  You can clear the pipes.  Try mixing hot water, vinegar, and a little baking powder.  You should also go around and empty cleanout plugs where you can.  If the pipe continues to drain slowly, the problem may be out of your hands, and calling a plumber is likely your best option for preventing major damage later. 

Do not Forget the Pipes

Checking your pipes regularly is important.  You want to expect pipes you can see for signs deterioration has occurred.  You can also inspect for leaks and, in areas hidden pipes are located, for signs of leaks.  Some signs that you leak are your water bill is noticeably higher than usual, there are damp and/or mouldy spots in your home, or the meter never stops running. 

The Water Should Not Stay in the Heater

The water heater should be drained at least two times a year at a minimum.  When sediment builds up in the water heater, the heater’s efficiency is reduced, and this can lead to major problems later.  If you notice signs that the water heater is damaged, you should call a professional plumber to look at it.  Plumbers are trained and educated on how to identify and fix problems with the water heater safely.

Winter is Coming!

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Frozen pipes are a nightmare that many individuals have lived through.  What many do not realize is that worse things can happen.  When water freezes it expands.  Insulating your pipes in the winter is crucial because it keeps you from facing exploding water pipes.  

Strainer Anyone? 

Strainers can keep a pipe from clogging and save you money.  This is because they can prevent debris out of the pipes in the first place.  It is important to remember that strainers do not last forever and should be replaced as much as you need to replace them.  This simple and affordable object can prevent your sink from clogging.

Pipe Cleaners

Not all solutions for cleaning pipes are created equal.  Corrosive cleaners can cause more damage to the system.   They do get rid of clogging quickly but compromise the longevity of the system in doing so.  Enzyme-based cleaners put bacteria to the system.  This bacterium breaks the clog down to a liquid substance so it can easily move down the drain.  This bacterium accomplishes this without harm to the plumbing system’s structure.

Pressure Matters

If you notice a reduction in the water pressure it is important to understand that this is always a sign there is a problem.  When you experience low pressure, you should immediately call a Harrisburg plumber.  Their experience and quick response can prevent increased repair costs in the long run. Showerhead buildup can result in reduced water pressure.  You can clean the showerhead before calling the plumber and check the pressure.  If the problem is resolved, then it was a buildup.  It is important to remember that if the leak is severe enough to impact the water pressure inside the home; it is a sign of a major leak that may require pipes to be replaced.  

The Sewer Lines

Taking time to learn the set up for the sewer system is important.  When you understand the setup, you can take preventative measures.  Tree roots can damage the lines.  For this reason, homeowners should avoid planting trees near the sewer lines.  You can snake the sewer lines now and then to ensure things are running smoothly.  Everything else should be handled by a professional.  The last thing you want is to accidentally clog the part of the sewer you share with your neighbour and be facing a lawsuit.

You Do Not Flush Everything

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Keeping debris from going down the drain prevents the plumbing from becoming clogs.  This means taking the time to teach your children basic maintenance.  There is some basic information to teach children that can save your plumbing.  Clogs do not become major concerns overnight.  It takes time for a clog to hit this level.  The clog you are facing today probably could have been prevented if there was a little more caution taken beforehand.  For this reason, watch what you and your children are putting down the drains.  Remember to teach your children not to flush an entire roll of toilet paper down the toilet and that everything cannot be flushed down the toilet.  

Schedule Regular Maintenance

Yes, calling plumbers to fix major problems is always a good idea, but this means that it is too late to prevent the problem.   You are facing whatever you are facing, and you cannot take preventative measures against a problem that has already occurred.  You can schedule a plumber to come to your home regularly and check the status of your system.  You can also ask experts for advice when purchasing plumbing supplies on what materials and products they would recommend.  

To Conclude

The plumbing system can make or break a home.  The home’s value remains high with the plumbing is maintained.  Having professionals come and conduct maintenance regularly can improve the value of your home.  Taking steps to prevent plumbing problems can also help prevent mould.  It is not unusual for a homeowner to find out there is mould in the home when they try to sell the home.  Mould comes with many health risks that can easily be prevented by taking preventative steps with the plumbing system.  

Hopefully, you now have the information and knowledge on the basics of your plumbing system that can assist you in preventing problems in the future.  Plumbing is crucial to the operation and comfort of a home.  If conducting maintenance or preventative measures on your own feels overwhelming; you can easily allow the professionals to take over this task for you.  If maintenance is completed incorrectly, even if its something as simple as handling a clogged toilet, can lead to major plumbing problems.  If you are not comfortable carrying out these tasks or are concerned you have a plumbing problem, leaving it to a professional can prevent more extensive and costly repairs down the road.

Understanding Your Plumbing System and Things You Should Know How to Do on Your Own 1

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