The Basics of Plumbing

Plumbing is the skill and work involved in installing, maintaining, and repairing pipes, fixtures, and appliances. This includes ensuring a safe, adequate water supply and proper drainage.


The most common plumbing projects include bringing fresh water into a building and removing waste water from it. Process piping also falls under this category, but it is usually used to convey chemicals, water, or other fluids for manufacturing purposes. Visit to learn more.

The water heater is one of the most important appliances in your home. It heats incoming cold water so that your sinks, tubs, and showers can output hot water for cleaning, cooking, and washing. Water heaters can be powered by electricity, gas, oil, or solar energy.

A water heater tank can hold between 30 and 60 gallons of hot water. When you run out of hot water, the thermostat automatically shuts off the heating mechanism. Cold water enters the tank through a dip tube, and hot water exits through an outlet pipe (it has a red-colored ring). As heat rises, more cold water comes in through the dip tube, and the heating mechanism kicks back on to keep the water temperature up.

Eventually, natural sediment clings to the bottom of your water heater tank. This robs your water heater of efficiency and shortens its service life. A professional technician can drain your tank to flush out the sediment and restore its efficiency.

Energy efficiency is important for any appliance, and your water heater is no exception. Newer water heaters can save you money on your utility bills. You can also help reduce energy consumption by setting your water heater to a lower temperature, especially when you are sleeping or away from home for extended periods.

Electrical water heaters have an equipment ground lug inside their wiring compartment, which provides a low-resistance path for current in the event of a fault. Gas water heaters have a venting system that removes the exhaust fumes. Oil-powered models have an oil burner. Gas-powered models have a pilot light, which keeps the heating element on until the water reaches the set temperature.

A drain valve is located near the exterior of your water heater, which allows you to drain the tank for maintenance and replacement of the heating elements or sacrificial anode rod. A pressure relief valve is a safety device that prevents the buildup of excessive pressure in the tank, which could rupture the tank or cause flooding and other damage. If you have a gas water heater, an exhaust vent runs vertically down the center of the tank.


Drains (Waste-Vent System)

A drain is a primary vessel or conduit for unwanted water or waste liquids to flow away from a specific area, either funneled into a receptacle or drained into sewers and stormwater lines. The drainage system also functions as a vent system to keep sewer gases from entering the supply pipes and poisoning the water in the home.

Within the house, all drains function on a basic plumbing system that is based on gravity and does not depend on pressure to operate. The system is comprised of a series of drains that connect all appliances, sinks, toilets, and tubs to one large pipe called the sewer line. The sewer line carries all wastewater and solid waste from your house to a municipal sewer system or your septic field.

All drains are tipped at an angle downward and slope out of the house to ensure that all waste falls into the sewer line and is carried downhill. The plumbing system also includes a drain trap that holds the waste in the pipe and prevents the gases from escaping into the house. There are also vents on the roof to allow air to enter the drain system to help keep the traps filled with water and prevent clogs.

When you are using a drain, wash your hands before and after emptying the bulb. This is especially important to do when using a commercially available Jackson-Pratt drain that applies continuous suction through a collapsible grenade-style collection reservoir attached to radiopaque fenestrated tubing (Figure 4). If you have a closed suction drain, you should not shower for at least 24 hours. You should look for signs of infection at the drain insertion site, like pain, redness, swelling, pus discharge, foul-smelling discharge, or fever.

Perimeter drains, also known as French or weeping tiles, are installed with plastic or PVC pipe with perforations around the perimeter of a foundation to divert water and help protect the structure from moisture damage. These drains should be cleaned regularly to avoid clogging with dirt and roots. Perimeter drains are typically buried in a bed of gravel to further protect the drain pipes from soil and sand that could clog them.


Plumbing has a lot of odd and confusing lingo, which is to be expected from a trade that dates back several millennia. But even though plumbing is an ancient profession, its tools and techniques have evolved to meet modern needs. For example, better manufacturing helps faucets stay drip-free longer, and quick-connect fittings make them a cinch to install.

Faucets are made of metal, usually brass and sometimes stainless steel or zinc. The most common design features include a spout that extends from the sink, a handle to turn the water on and off, and a valve to control flow. The main body of the faucet is often formed by hot forging, in which heated metal is forced into a die to create a near-net shape in about three seconds with minimal waste. The forging process may be followed by machining to produce finer details.

The final step is finishing, which includes applying a decorative finish and assembling the various components. The faucet is then inspected and packaged for sale. Most faucets are sold with a warranty to provide consumers with peace of mind.

In addition to improving efficiency and durability, the latest designs help reduce water use and environmental impacts. For example, some faucets are designed with a sensor that detects motion and activates the valve to start or stop water flow, eliminating the need for manual action. The sensors typically use infrared or ultrasonic energy to detect movement and can be positioned at the base of the faucet, the lip of the spout, or anywhere else that’s easy for the user to reach.

Whether you’re installing a new faucet or replacing an old one, it’s important to read the manufacturer’s instructions before getting started. Then, lay out the parts as you remove them so they’re easy to reassemble. It’s also helpful to have a heat gun or hair dryer on hand to loosen any rusted nuts and to have wrenches or pliers ready to grip the compression nut. If you’re installing a faucet on a stone countertop, skip the plumber’s putty and opt for a waterproof silicone sealant instead—it doesn’t contain oil that can stain your counter.


Toilets are a key part of a sanitation system that includes toilet paper, water, and waste collection and treatment. Without this, highly contagious diseases spread very easily and kill thousands of people each day. With good sanitation, such as toilets, cities and towns can be much larger than they used to be because more people can live in them safely.

In many countries, toilets are located in public buildings such as schools, libraries, and offices. Often, the toilets are separated into men’s and women’s bathrooms, but there are also some unisex public toilets. A toilet can be operated by pushing a button or lever, and water flows from the tank into the bowl, carrying away the waste.

There are several types of toilets, including elongated models that have wider seats and are designed for individuals with disabilities. Other types include taller toilets, dual flushing systems, and toilets with bidet functionality that offer a more thorough washing experience. Some of these features are available for only certain brands of toilets, while others can be added to any model.

Toilets are usually made of porcelain, but they can also be made from ceramic, concrete, or plastic. They may be pedestal or wall-mounted and can have either a tank or a bowl. Typically, they have a lid that can be closed when not in use. The tank has a drain pipe that connects to the sewer line. There are some designs that have the toilet seat elevated to prevent feces from touching the floor. Associated devices are urinals, which dispose of male urine, and bidets, which cleanse the anus, perineum, and genitals.

The waterway in a toilet is often shaped with a slightly smaller diameter than the bowl itself, which creates a siphon action when it is flushed. This helps to keep the water in the bowl fresh and reduce the odor of sewage in the building.