Everything we do pretty much relies on plumbing. Whether it’s washing your car or brushing your teeth before going to bed you’re using your home’s plumbing system!
A home’s plumbing system is composed of four things: waste drains, waste vents, potable water, and rainwater management.
So let’s go through each process one by one.
Most homes have either ABS, PVC, or cast iron drain pipes and vents. These pipes are connected to all the fixtures in the home such as toilets, sinks, bathtubs, and showers. When the fixture is used, the waste is carried inside these drain pipes that have a slight slope down the main drain until it reaches the municipal drain under the street. If you take a look at your home you’ll find cleanouts, these are what give you access to the inside of the pipes in case, there’s a blockage.
As for pipe sizes, most toilet drains are 3 inches, kitchen and bathroom sinks are one inch and a half or 2 inches if it’s wet vented, and showers and bathtubs are 2 inches by code. The main stacks are either 3 inches or 4 inches depending on what the code asks for and your municipality.
But some homes don’t have municipal services. So how do they get rid of their wastes?
It’s simple. The main drain pipe that would normally go to the sewers, goes into what’s called a septic tank. This septic tank which is either concrete or polyethylene separates the solids from the liquids and flows into a leach field or a drain field which then goes into the ground to get naturally filtered. The solids eventually need to get pumped out by a vacuum truck to properly function.
For these fixtures and drains to function adequately, the system needs to be properly vented. When a toilet is flushed, the water pushes the air downstream causing a negative pressure behind it. The vents are what equalized this change in pressure to prevent things like gurgling and pee traps from being siphoned out, which would allow for sewer gases to find their way inside your home. These vents get their air through the roof and need to stay clear from bird nests and debris or you’re assured of having problems. Something else this vent serves is to relieve any pressure buildup inside the actual municipal sewer line. Some cities had their manhole covers blast up 50 feet in the air because rats would chew on electrical wires and would, in turn, create a spark and ignite the methane gas inside the sewers, so the vent minimizes the chance of this happening.
As for potable water goes it comes from the street like the other services and typically has between 40 to 80 psi of pressure. Every home with a water supply from this city has to have a shutoff valve outside just like this in case the city needs to close the water. This copper line, which is normally three-quarters of an inch in size, comes into the basement through the concrete slab to another shutoff valve which is only accessible to the homeowner.
The hot water tank, either electric or gas-fed, is fed cold water to heat it and distribute it throughout the house thanks to its pressure. Some homes still have CPVC or copper lines but new constructions use mostly PEX as it’s reliable and quick to install.
So now, how does one get water if there are no municipal services? In rural areas people use wells. A well is basically a hole that’s drilled approximately 500 feet in the ground to access groundwater of yep pumping. This water is pumped back up and goes through a series of apparatuses to make the water drinkable. A downside to this is if the electricity cuts out you’ll need a generator to get a glass of water.
And the last aspect is rainwater management. In the past rainwater and sewage were combined meaning the rainwater went to the same sewer as the waste from your house. Since then they’ve been separated to make water management easier. When it rains all of this water has to go somewhere right? The rain that falls on the house’s roof trickles into the gutters. Now the gutter’s job is to divert the water away from the house to prevent water and filtrations. Most people install a 5-foot piece onto the downspout so the water has somewhere to go. Other people prefer recovering this water in barrels to use as nonpotable water, to water their plants and flowers. And some actually, connect them to the weeping tile or French drain. The French drain is the corrugated pipe that runs around the footing of the houses to catch any excess water on the ground. The problem that can occur is the municipal drain could get overloaded very quickly and overflow so it’s best to invest in a rainwater collection system or to just let the soil absorb the water.
Simply it’s how your plumbing system works. How we use our water is important and we should know without this system we wouldn’t have the same life quality as we have now.
Hope this article helps you a little bit, and if you have any question, you can contact us.