Is your drain blocked? Is your water pressure a little light for your liking? Plenty of plumbing problems can be solved using basic tools and a little know how, provided you’re familiar with the jargon used in many plumbing tutorials.
In this glossary, we’ll cover the most frequently used terms, phrases and jargon in home plumbing. Read on to learn the basic technical terms you’ll no doubt read in manuals, tutorials and even our own online plumbing guides.
A vertical gap between the bottom of a drain of waste line and the place it empties into. Prevents waste or dirty water from flowing back up the pipe and resulting in contamination.
Water that travels backwards from one part of the plumbing system into the main plumbing system is referred to as backflow. Backflow is unwanted and is typically blocked with a backflow preventer.
When air is trapped inside a pipe it can cause sputtering noises to occur when a tap is used. It can also result in inconsistent pressure and splashing faucets. ‘Bleeding’ a pipe refers to removing excess air from it by opening a valve.
A hot water tank that heats water to turn into steam. Boilers are typically used as a power source for hot water systems and radiators. Also known as a ‘furnace’ in the United States.
The amount of pressure that will cause a pipe or tube to burst. Plumbers should be aware of the burst pressure of tubing they’re using and ensure the system they are working on will not damage the tubing.
A fitting used to connect two pipes together. Many types of coupling are available for different plumbing systems. Couplings are typically made of steel, copper, brass and other materials.
A fitting that changes the direction of a pipe. Elbows are typically 45° or 90° and can be referred to as “ells.” Elbows are also available in a 22.5° angle, although this angle is uncommon.
A source of discharged water or drain. Fixtures can include bathtubs and showers, kitchen and bathroom faucets, outdoor water systems, toilets and bidets and more.
Metal treated with a light coating of zinc is galvanized. Galvanizing metal prevents it from becoming corroded and increases its functional lifespan, preventing breakages and other common plumbing issues.
Tap water that contains minerals and other impurities. Hard water is measured by the amount of calcium and dissolved materials inside the water, in addition to the presence of minerals.
A circular ring (technically, in the shape of a torus) that acts as a seal between two parts of a plumbing system. O-rings are made from elastomer polymers and are an essential component of plumbing systems.
Safe to consume. Water that is potable is safe to drink or use in cooking. Most city water supplies are potable, although natural disasters such as flooding can cause a normally potable water supply to become contaminated and unsafe.
A tank that contains waste from a home or building. Septic tanks allow solid matter to settle before being pumped and removed. Typically used in remote locations that are not connected to a sewer system.
A three-point fitting shaped like an upper case T. Tees are used to link connect three pipes together. Tee fittings, which are smaller, also allow three sections of pipe to be connected within a plumbing system.
A mechanical device that controls the flow of water throughout a pipe. Many types of valve are available to suit different sizes of pipe and system pressure. One of the most important components of any plumbing system.