15 Must-Know Plumbing Terms For Homeowners

Tackling a plumbing problem on your own can be very difficult. Not only because you may not be an expert in diagnosing the issue, but also because there are a lot of industry related terms that might be unfamiliar if you’re not in the business. That’s why we’ve taken the time to break down some of the basics for you below.

  1. Auger: Used to clear clogs in drains, an auger is a flexible metal rod, typically made of spring material. There are several different kinds of augers, including closet or toilet augers, made specially to clear toilet clogs without damaging the toilet’s trap.
  2. CPVC: This acronym literally stands for, chlorinated poly-vinyl chloride, and is the name of a type of plastic piping used in both hot and cold water piping. It’s generally a better option than copper piping, as the plastic will resist corrosion.
  3. Discharge Drain: Unlike normal drains, which are used to remove wastewater from a fixture or system (think tub or sink), discharge drains empty water into a larger drainage system, or into the ground. A french drain is a common example.
  4. Faucet Screen: Most faucets have a tiny built in metal screen that helps catch any debris floating around in your pipes. Washing machine water hoses have then as well to keep water valves protected.
  5. Flapper: The most common type of flapper is found at the bottom of your toilet’s water tank. It is hinged and movable in order to control water flow, closing when the tank is empty to allow it to fill back up again in between flushes.
  6. Float Valve: Similar to a flapper, this valve’s job is to control water flow by ensuring that water only fills to a certain level. The float valves in your toilet tank are attached to a buoyant, hollow ball which rises as the water level does, eventually pulling the float valve closed.
  7. Hose Bibb: These are the connection points for water hoses, and can be located either outdoors (think, garden hose), or indoors (think, laundry machine). These are also known as spigots.
  8. Low-Flow: This term refers to the more economically friendly fixture options that limit the amount of water that your faucet or showerhead spits out.
  9. Overflow Drain: Ever wondered what that small hole was towards the top of your sink is for? That’s an overflow drain. It prevents your sink from overflowing by providing an easy outlet for water to drain if it gets too high.
  10. P-Trap: Sink drainpipes are designed in a “P” formation. That way, a small amount of water is always trapped to keep sewer odors from making their way up and into your home’s air. Toilet have a similar drainpipe, however it’s in the shape of an “S” instead.
  11. Pressure Tank: This ensures that water come out of your faucets when turned on. The tank, park of a well pump, uses pressure to force water to travel through your plumbing.
  12. Septic System: Separate from your municipal water supply – thank goodness! – your septic system carries wastewater and sewage out of your home. Some homes also have a septic tank, where sewage is pumped into to be decomposed and broken down.
  13. Shutoff Valve: It’s important to know where these are in your home in case of emergency. Shutoff valves stop the flow of water within a pipe, and are usually situated underneath sinks and beside toilets.
  14. Sump Pump: Typically used in a basement, this device helps pump water out of a collection pit. Oftentimes water will pool in the lower level of the home, but this will ensure that it’s removed quickly and easily.
  15. Vent Stack: These make regulate the pressure in your home’s drainage system, preventing vacuum conditions that can affect the natural flow of water.

Looking for a full list of plumbing jargon? Check out this helpful Angie’s List article for a full list.

And remember, if ever you’re confused about a plumbing issue and are in need of a professional opinion, the expert plumbers at Barker and Sons Plumbing & Rooter are only a phone call away. Serving all of Orange County, we pride ourselves on being there for our customers 24/7/365. Just dial 714-630-8766.