List of Common Terms to Help You Understand Tricky Plumbing Jargon

List of Common Terms to Help You Understand Tricky Plumbing Jargon

Every industry has its own lexicon of terms that professionals use when referring to trade-related jobs, materials and components. If you’re unfortunate enough to suffer through a plumbing emergency at your home or business or if you’re planning to discuss a possible remodeling project that will require custom plumbing solutions, it’s wise to familiarize yourself with the words and phrases you might hear when speaking to a bluefrog Plumbing + Drain representative. The following list will help you translate the plumber‘s terminology into customer-friendly conversation that will help you make decisions that could prevent your money from going down the drain.

ABS: Stiff black plastic pipe used for vent lines, drain and waste water runoff. In some areas, it is not code-approved for use.

Absorbent: A substance used to absorb and retain liquids, gases or solids. Activated carbon is the most commonly used absorbent.

Absorption field: A designated area beside a septic tank that’s intended to absorb liquid waste. The liquid is filtered out and the solids are left behind. It’s also called a seeping field.

Absorption pit: Releases liquid waste into a filter bed before it flows into a seeping field.

Access panel: A small covered opening in a wall that permits access to plumbing fixtures for maintenance, such as control and shutoff valves.

ANSI: Founded in 1918, the American National Standards Institute sets guidelines for conformity and regulation in plumbing. Any company performing plumbing services must meet ANSI standards.

Anti-microbial: Products continuing elements that destroy or prevent bacteria and molds from forming. Toilet seats are typically made from anti-microbial materials.

Apron: Covers the rough-in area of a bathtub. Aprons are most common on whirlpools that require access to the unit’s plumbing and motor.

Auger: A metal rod with a cutting device on one end to clear drain clogs. Closet, or toilet, augers are inserted into the toilet trap for above-ground problems, while longer augers are used for clearing underground drain lines. Augers can be powered manually or electrically.

Back flow: Water that flows from one part of a system back into the main system, most frequently from a siphoning effect. A back-flow preventer is used to avoid this.

Backup: Water overflow that usually contains waste from a plumbing fixture. They’re caused by a blockage in a drain or waste line.

Backwash cycle: Cleans the filter by reversing the flow of the water. The waste water from this procedure is piped to a drain.

Baffle: Prevents the backward flow of water or gases into a system.

Ball cock: Permits water to enter and fill a toilet’s water closet. It prevents overfilling with a floating ball that cuts off the water at a predetermined depth.

Basket strainer: Cup-shaped device that stops debris from entering the waste piping.

Bends: A nickname for any piping elbows.

Bidet: Used to wash private areas. They are about the same size and height as a toilet.

Black water: Waste water from toilets, urinals, food prep receptacles or drains that receive chemical waste.

Copper piping: A rigid copper or copper alloy water line with a long-life cycle.

CPVC: Stands for chlorinated poly-vinyl chloride pipe, which is plastic piping used for hot and cold potable water.

Discharge drain: Discharges water into a drain or the ground.

Drain: Removes wastewater and directs it elsewhere for treatment or reuse. They’re usually open but may be covered if on the floor.

Energy Star: An energy efficiency standard originating in the U.S. for appliances like dishwashers and washing machines. Having this rating means a product will be cost effective and not require excessive power to function.

Flapper: The hinged, movable part of a shut-off valve. They’re most commonly found in toilets to regulate emptying and filling it with water.

Garbage disposal: Minces food waste so it can be sent through the drainage system. They’re commonly used beneath kitchen sinks.

Hose bibb: A valved water fitting connected to a water hose. They’re also called spigots or faucets.

Low-flow: A fixture that reduces water flow from an outlet.

Main drainpipe: Where a building’s drain pipes enter the septic system or underground drainpipe.

Master plumber: A plumber with ten to fifteen years of experience who has passed state tests, including plumbing codes and practices. Master plumbers plan and bid for jobs and can be responsible for business operations.

P-trap: A sink drainpipe shaped like the letter “P” that runs through the floor and down to the main drain piping. It’s designed to trap a small quantity of water to prevent odors from coming out of the sink piping.

Plunger: A vacuum cup on a handle. They create suction to break down clogs in drains.

Pressure gauge: Measures the pressure in a piping system.

Rain barrel: A container used for collecting rain or roof runoff water for various household uses.

Septic system: A system of sewage removal that includes the septic field, septic tank and associated piping. It is a stand-alone system that is not connected to a city’s sewer system.

Septic tank: An underground tank for breaking down sewage with an anaerobic bacterial process.

Sewage: Water carrying various types of waste from a residence, business, institution or industrial building. It usually includes storm and ground water.

Soil Pipe: A dedicated pipe for transporting waste from toilets.

Solar water heater: Heats water with coiled piping on the building’s roof. It saves energy and can be used to back up a conventional water heater.

Sump pump: Removes standing water from a collection pit.

Tank: A container that reserves a portion of water for future use, such as toilet tanks and water heater tanks.

Tempering Valve: Used to reliably maintain temperature of hot and cold water.

Trap: A seal that prevents foul odors from re-entering a building.

Learning these terms will help you communicate your needs and wishes to our technicians. Call bluefrog Plumbing + Drain anytime for emergency service or to set up an appointment to talk about any remodeling plans you might have. We’ll be glad to discuss your plans and share our opinion and advice.

Photo By Lonely Walker at Shutterstock
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