Plumbing issues can often lead to expensive repairs. As a new homeowner, it's important to have a firm grasp on basic plumbing terminology so you can discuss any issues knowledgeably with your plumbing professional. Between kitchens, bathrooms and outdoor plumbing elements, here is a list of eight important plumbing terms to know.
1. Backflow – When the pressure changes in a plumbing system causing water flow to reverse in a pipe.
2. Centerset Faucet – Did you know there are different types of faucets? A centerset faucet works with vanities that have three holes drilled into the top (vs. just one hole, which would work with a single-hole faucet.) The main distinction of a centerset faucet is the combination of the faucet and the handles onto one base unit, like in the picture below.
3. Widespread Faucet – Is another type of faucet you can choose for your sink. A widespread faucet also works with three hole vanities, but the distinction here is that the handles are separate from the spout. In the image below is a great example of a widespread faucet.
4. Faucet Aerator – A “cap" at the end of the faucet that homeowners can screw on and off. Comes with most faucets. The aerator prevents splashing, and mixes water with air to remove gases, odors and any weird taste.
5. Faucet Valve – A valve is a mechanism that regulates the flow of water to and from pipes. A faucet valve is located inside the faucet fixture itself. These valves are what enable homeowners to turn the handles on faucets on and off, and for different types of water (hot or cold.)
6. Overflow – A secondary type of drain that prevents overfilling. You can see overflow drains in your bath (the silver disk near the top of the bathtub) or at top of sink, (two holes near the top) which are meant to prevent flooding.
7. Shutoff Valves – These are commonly seen as knobs that turn water on and off for the entire fixture itself. As a homeowner, it's important to know where the shutoff valves for all fixtures are located, typically underneath the sink or adjacent to toilet or water heater.
8. Trap – Trap is the “P" or “S" shaped part of the drainpipe commonly found underneath a sink or tub. The trap works by collecting contaminated water from sink or shower, and “holds" it to prevent this water from entering into clean water through the drainage pipe. Most homeowners become familiar with the trap when the trap underneath a shower drain gets clogged with hair.
By becoming familiar with a handful of basic plumbing terms, you can become a more informed consumer, and better assess what your home needs in the event of an emergency. The ability to quickly identify where issues may lie can also save you money and stress during repair projects. Never forget—knowledge is power, even when it comes to plumbing items around the home!