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Plumbing 101: Understanding How the Pipes Work

As long as you have water coming out of the faucets and your toilets are flushing, you probably haven’t given much thought to how your indoor plumbing operates, other than to be grateful for it. But when those things don’t work, the question becomes “why?” It’s likely that something’s gone wrong in the pipes. So let’s take a look at the basics of pipes and how they conduct water throughout your home.

There are two main types of pipes in your home:

  • Water supply pipes
  • Drain-waste-vent pipes

Water supply pipes bring fresh water indoors, operating under pressure to distribute it throughout the home. The water first passes through a meter, which registers the amount of water used for billing purposes. Incoming water is divided through the pipes for two purposes:

  • Cold water, which is available for immediate use
  • Hot water, which is created by a designated pipe that carries cold water to the water heater, where it is heated and then delivered by a hot water line to all of the fixtures and appliances that need it.

Drain-waste-vent pipes use gravity to remove grey water and sewage from your home:

  • Drainpipes collect water from sinks, showers, tubs, and appliances.
  • Waste pipes remove water and waste material from the toilet.
  • Vent pipes dispel sewer gases and allow air to enter the system so that the wastewater flows freely.
  • Waste drainage systems use gravity — the pipes angle downward and gravity pulls the waste downward through the sewer line to your septic tank or your city’s or county’s sewage treatment system.

Shutting off the pipes

Pipes can occasionally be the source of a plumbing emergency in your home, such as when pipes freeze in the wintertime and later thaw and then burst. In the event of such an emergency, it’s vital to know where your home’s water shut-off valve is located. Every home is required to have a shut-off valve installed, but the location of it may depend on the age of your home and type of construction. Here is a handy guide to finding your shut-off valve:

  1. The shut-off valve is going to be located near the outside perimeter of your house and always on the ground floor or in the basement or crawl space.
  1. Basement: the shut-off valve is usually just a few feet from where the main water line enters the house, but sometimes it can be located where a line goes up to the water heater or furnace.
  1. Crawl space: the shut-off valve can be located anywhere, but typically it will be near the water heater or kitchen sink.
  1. Slab: similar to the crawl space, the location of the shut-off valve could be anywhere, but it is usually near the water heater or under the kitchen sink.

When it comes to the pipes, it’s important to keep them in good working order. Whether you have an emergency on your hands or just need a regular repair, a trusted plumber is a valuable asset.

Howell Services, serving the Fort Bend area, understands the importance of providing quality, trusted plumbing service. We are fully licensed, insured and bonded, and offer competitive pricing and a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. Call today to schedule your repair service or a comprehensive plumbing inspection.

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