Plumbing 101

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In order to understand the overall workings of a plumbing system, you must first explore and understand the three basic components that make up a basic plumbing system. By gaining a knowledge of how the three basic components work together, you not only gain a better insight of the entire system but also make future diagnostics much easier.

A basic plumbing system consists of three parts: pipes and fittings, fixtures, and drainage. Together, they combine to create a functional plumbing system that serves a variety of uses in the home. Bathrooms, kitchens and even garages are all common places where you can find complete plumbing systems.

Pipes and fittings are the backbone on which all plumbing systems are built. This component of the plumbing system consists of all the pipes that connect the home to the main water supply lines. It also includes any fittings required to connect the various plumbing pipes at various intersections and to create varying angles for the pipes when needed. Most plumbing systems will have a combination of both hot water and cold water pipes, each designed to withstand either high or low temperatures with ease. Pipes can also be made from a variety of materials including copper, brass, lead, PVC or CPVC.

The pipes in a basic plumbing system will connect to a variety of plumbing fixtures.  Plumbing fixtures can include sinks, bathtubs, hot water heaters, toilets, washing machines and dish washers. Each fixture serves a specific need in the house and is typically designed for inclusion in specific rooms. A bathroom sink, for example, would not be suited for installation in a kitchen. Each fixture will also have a specific set of maintenance needs that should be carried out on a regular basis to keep the fixture in top working order.

Just as pipes connect the fixtures to the main water supplies, drainage systems are the components of basic plumbing systems that connect the various fixtures to the waste removal lines and eventually, the sewage system. The drainage system is also the component of a basic plumbing system that often requires the most attention as clogged drains are common household occurrences.  Because of this, special care should always be taken to ensure no materials are being allowed to enter into the drainage system that are too large or bulky for the particular drain to handle and pass freely. If a blockage does occur, plungers, augers and various household chemical drain cleaners can be used to help break up the clog and restore proper drainage to the individual fixture.

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