How Does Your Home Plumbing System Work?

What do you do if you don’t have hot water or a toilet backs up?

It’s easy to YouTube it when you need help figuring out the best way to use a plunger. But most plumbing repairs require knowing something about the inner workings of a home plumbing system.

Don’t let the labyrinth of pipes intimidate you!

You don’t need to be a plumber to understand pipes and vents. If you’re curious, take a minute and explore the ins and outs of residential plumbing.

You Have Two Plumbing Systems

If you look at a schematic of a home plumbing system, you’ll see two sub-systems. One delivers clean water. The other removes wastewater.

The systems connect at sinks, showers, and toilets. If you have a washing machine or dishwater, there are connections there as well.

Supply lines and pipes make up the two systems.

Supply lines deliver clean water—pipes transport wastewater. It would be best never to have sewage in your clean supply lines.

Water Supply Lines 101

Generally, you don’t see the water supply lines because they’re placed behind walls, under floors, or underground.

Clean water from your city’s public water system flows through the clean water supply line directly into your home. This supply line is the main water line. The clean water supply line also runs to the water heater.

Before connecting to the water heater, the main water line splits off into two different service lines.

You have cold water and a hot water service line. The hot water service line delivers water stored in your water heater to fixtures (sinks, bath, and shower taps) and appliances like the dishwasher and washing machine.

Wastewater and Sewer Gas

The other sub-system consists of pipes and vents. Wastewater from your household drains into waste pipes. Those pipes carry wastewater to the main sewer line, which meets up with the city’s sewer system.

A household generates two kinds of wastewater—gray and black. Gray water comes from sinks, showers, and water-using appliances. Water from toilets is referred to as black water.

All wastewater is contaminated. However, the level of contamination is lower in gray water because it doesn’t contain fecal matter. Drinking water from your supply line should not have anything harmful to you or your family.

Vent pipes and drain traps prevent sewer gas from entering your home. Sewer gas smells like rotten eggs. If you smell sewer gas, you know you have a problem with either a damaged or dry trap or a damaged or plugged vent.

When the plumbing system works correctly, supply lines, waste pipes, and vent pipes prevent things from moving in the wrong direction.

When to Hire a Plumber

When your plumbing system goes haywire, you’ll know it! You’ll either smell the problem, see water backing up in sinks or showers, or experience an overflowing toilet.

Most homeowners can master using a plunger to clear a clogged toilet. You can also make a homemade drain cleaner to unclog a backed-up sink.

Other plumbing repairs, such as leaky water heaters, cracked sewer lines, or burst pipes require more than good DIY skills. You’ll want to hire a plumber.

Need Help with Your Home Plumbing System?

We hope we’ve cleared up some of the mystery about what goes on in your home plumbing system. If it’s working correctly, you shouldn’t need to consider all the behind-the-scenes activity.

When things don’t flow smoothly, Hack’s Plumbing & Drain pros are here to help.

For the past 45 years, we’ve handled residential and commercial plumbing issues, including plumbing installation in the LA area. Contact us today for service.