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10 Plumbing Terms You Should Know

If you come across a plumbing term you’re not familiar with, this mini-dictionary can help. Here are 10 terms that will help you understand more about your home’s plumbing.

Closet Auger
A flexible metal rod made of spring-like material, with a cutting or clearing device on one end. It is used to clear clogs in toilets. It’s also called a plumber’s snake.

The hinged, movable part of a type of shut off valve found at the bottom of a toilet tank. It is pulled up to start the flush cycle and drops closed when the tank is empty, allowing it to refill.

Fill Valve
A valve on a toilet that detects the water level in the toilet tank and controls the flow of water into the tank.

For more on flappers and fill valves, see How to Fix a Running Toilet.

A drainpipe designed in the shape of a “P” that has fallen over. You can find it under your sinks and other fixtures. The shape is designed to trap a small amount of water in the pipe, preventing sewer odors from coming back up the drain.

Tankless Water Heater
A newer style of water heater that does not use a holding tank. Instead, water is heated on demand after the unit detects water flow. These units are usually heated by natural gas burners.

For more information see, Tankless Water Heaters: How to Make the Right Choice for Your Home.

Water Meter
A gauge used to measure the amount of water flow in a system, measured in gallons. Your water meter is probably located in a water meter box near the edge of your property line, usually around 10 feet or so from the curb.

Meter Key
A tool to turn your water off or on at the water meter box.

For more information, see How to Turn Off the Main Water Line in Your Home.

Faucet Aerator
Most faucets have an aerator on the end that combines air and water to allow a good stream out of the faucet. Over time, they can become clogged. The good news is that they can easily be cleaned or replaced.

Cast Iron and PVC Pipes
If any of your pipes are cast iron, you’ll want to be aware of it. Cast iron pipes can rust out at the bottom, are prone to clogging, and can be difficult to work on.

PVC pipes, on the other hand, are newer and much easier to replace than cast iron. The good news is it’s easy to tell the difference between the two. PVC pipes are white and cast iron pipes are black.

Sewage Ejector Pump
A pump, usually installed in a basement, for all plumbing below the level of the sewer line that exits the house. It pumps all sewage up to the level of the main sewer line. They are fairly common. If your basement has plumbing, you probably have a sewage ejector pump.

Your Call

These terms should help you know more about your plumbing. When you have the right information, you can either tackle a project or problem yourself, keep an eye out for upcoming issues, or know the right time to call for help.

It’s your home. It’s your decision.

If you do need help, you can reach us at 770.560.1792.