Understanding the Basics of Plumbing

October 16, 2020

Understanding your residential plumbing helps you with small repairs and might mean you don’t need to call a plumber for repairs.  The plumbing in our London ON homes follows the fundamental laws of gravity, water seekings its level and pressure. Your home’s plumbing system’s primary purpose is to bring clean water into your home and take away the wastewater through a separate drainage system. First, let’s talk about the basics of the wastewater drainage system.

Outgoing drainage systems 

Water and waste drain are essentially the same, whether your home is on a sewer or septic system. 

Wastewater leaves the house by way of drainage pipes that angle downward. Gravity pulls the waste through the sewer line to a sewage treatment facility site, or it goes to the homeowner’s septic tank.

With that said, drainage systems are not as simple as they sound. Throughout the system, there are vents, traps, and cleanouts. Each of these provides essential functions to keep your home’s plumbing system functioning correctly. As a homeowner, you usually can maintain the traps and cleanouts. However, you likely want to call a trustworthy plumbing company like Plumbhouse Plumbing Heating & Electrical to inspect and repair any issues with the vents if needed.


Vents stick up from the roof of the house to allow air to enter the drainpipes. Without air supply from the vents, the wastewater would not flow out properly, and the water in the traps would need to be siphoned away, not a pretty sight or smell.


Traps often have clean-out plugs that give homeowners easier access to remove any blockage. Most of the time, homeowners can take care of clogged drains themselves. A great example would be your sink’s main pipe becoming clogged with food. Within reach, there should be a clean-out plug on the pipeline under your sink. However, if left alone too long, clogs become far more challenging to get rid of and may require a visit from a professional plumber.



Traps, located under every sink, are vital. As shown in the image above, they are the curved or S-shaped section of the pipe under a drain. Traps are also part of the plumbing for other parts of your home, like the shower. Water flows from the basin with enough force to enter and go through the trap and out through the drainpipe. Enough water stays in the trap afterward to form a seal that prevents sewer gas from entering your home.

Some residential kitchen sinks have grease traps to collect grease, but these are not as common in homes as they are in restaurants. Grease traps are convenient because you do not want built-up oil to clog drains because you enjoy pan-fried bacon in the morning. 

If your home does not have a grease trap, pour grease into a jar or old coffee can to discard in the trash. Never pour it into the drain. If you do this enough, you’ll likely need a repair from a professional plumber.


Freshwater Systems (In)

Freshwater that comes into your home is under pressure and needs to be to reach its destination. If you’ve ever had a shower or tried to wash your car without water pressure, then you know how important it is.

Water Meter

As water enters the home, it passes through a meter that registers the amount you use. These water meters are either owned by your local municipality or are contracted out to a utility company. As you know, the property owner is billed for the amount of water they use each month.


Cold and Hot Water

Water that flows from your area’s main supply is immediately ready for cold water needs such as drinking, cooking, washing dishes or clothes.

For hot water, the journey requires another stop. One pipe carries regular fresh water to your water heater. A hot water line then carries the heated water to all the fixtures and appliances from the water heater. A thermostat on the water heater maintains the temperature you select by turning the devices’ heating elements on and off when needed.


Water Main Shut-off Valve

At the meter is the water main shutoff or stop valve. Many homeowners are unaware of where this valve is located or forget because it’s not something they often use.

It’s a good idea to know where the water main is located and how it shuts off. If you are uncertain, the next time you call a plumber for a repair, get him to show you where it is and how to shut it off in an emergency. This is important. If a pipe bursts, it can quickly flood your house and cost several thousands of dollars in additional expense. We recommend labelling the main shutoff valve, just in case you forget its location or get it confused with others.

Individual Stop Valves

Now, if an emergency is confined to a sink, tub, or toilet, you may not need to turn off the home’s entire water supply. Just turn off the individual stop valves, which are always located near the fixture.
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October 16, 2020 2:00 pm

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