ARE YOU TAKING YOUR PLUMBING SYSTEM FOR GRANTED?
Some Plumbing Facts…
Plumbing has come a long way since the days of outhouses and hand pumps. We rely on the convenience of today’s plumbing so much that we take it’s reliability for granted.
Unfortunately, many home owners don’t know the basics of their plumbing system. When a major problem occurs, they are left at the mercy of a contractor; trusting his estimate of the damage and repairs. Although most contractors are honest, it helps to know as much as possible when hiring a plumber.
This information is intended as a general home owner’s guide to the basics of residential plumbing.
Your potable (drinking) water is supplied by either a municipality, a utility company, or a well. If you have a well, water is pumped from the well by a motorized pump into a pressure tank, and then into the supply system. When demand in the house causes pressure in the tank to drop, the pump turns on, and water is drawn out of the well to refill the tank. The pump shuts off automatically when the pressure is re-established.
Water flows into most homes through a water service line at a pressure of 20 to 80 pounds per square inch (psi). Typical psi is between 25 and 50. A main shut-off valve is usually installed on the line near where it enters the building. You should know where the valve is located because you may need to shut off your water supply if you have a leak or are having plumbing work done.
Once inside the house, the pipe may connect to the water softener (if you have one), and then to the water heater. From the water heater, the piping branches out horizontally and vertically to fixtures such as tubs, toilets, showers, and sinks.
Horizontal pipes may be installed on a slight decline so that in case of power failures or major repairs, the entire system can be drained through a valve at its lowest point.
Supply pipes are sometimes designed with air chambers which act as “shock absorbers” when faucets are rapidly turned off. Without these, the system could develop ruptures from the pressure created by water flow being abruptly stopped. Some- times these chambers become filled with water, and you will hear banging in the pipes known as “water hammer”. If the banging persists, the air chambers can be re-established by a plumber or a handy home owner with the aid of a repair manual.