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Bathroom Plumbing Basics Every Homeowner Should Know

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Bathroom Plumbing Basics

Bathroom plumbing is a system in your home that follows the basic laws of physics to make your life cleaner and easier. It’s essentially the cardiovascular system of your home, with multiple veins constantly circulating water in and out to keep the “heart” of your home consistently pumping and efficient. In plumbing, a flush beats a full house every time.

The process seems intricate at first, but when broken down, it’s easy to see how certain issues arise and how they can be mitigated for the future. Here’s our guide to the basics of your home’s bathroom system so you’re not backed up, either.

Contact us for help with basic plumbing maintenance!

Water Supply
Your home’s water supply and drainage subsystems are mutually exclusive, meaning they are two distinct systems without any overlap. Fixtures that dispense fresh water (i.e. toilets, sinks, tubs and faucets) form bridges between the systems to keep them separated. The main job of your plumbing is to take wastewater away from these fixtures and out of your home.

Your bathroom’s water supply comes into your home by way of a private well or pipe attached to a city’s main line. Your water line is the break between your plumbing lines and the city’s. When water enters your home, the bathroom water pipes branch off the main line into two: cold water pipes go directly to your bathroom fixtures, and hot water pipes pass onto your water heater. Hot water is then channelled back to the bathroom beside the cold water pipes. Wastewater, on the other hand, leaves the house through downward-facing pipes that pull waste out of the house and into a sewer line that takes it to a treatment facility or tank.

Drains and Vents
The presence of air in your plumbing system is crucial. Regulated air rotation helps decrease water pressure, prevent backups, and keeps traps from being siphoned. In turn, waste moves out of your bathroom plumbing lines more efficiently. Your drainage system consists of pipes (usually PVC) that connect to a master stack of pipes in your basement or crawlspace, often referred to as the soil stack. This vertical stack of pipes is connected to a sewer line that goes up and away from your house. The top of the stack goes up through the roof for gases to escape and fresh air to enter, encouraging optimal drain flow each time someone flushes a toilet or drains the sink. For this reason, every bathroom fixture has to connect to one of your main vents.

Common Plumbing Issues in Bathrooms
Because of the mechanics of bathroom plumbing, certain mishaps are more common. Two of the most dealt-with issues are leaks and clogs. Clogged toilets and drains happen; it’s a fact of life, especially when there’s a lot of people in your home with limited bathrooms. You wouldn’t believe how easily a toilet can be blocked by excessive toilet paper, facial wipes, cotton balls, or other miscellaneous items people try to pass off as “flush-friendly.”
Most clogged toilets can be fixed with a plunger, while clogged drains may just need a little elbow grease. However, if the basics don’t cover it, a professional plumber should be contacted to get the job done to prevent overflows of unsanitary water.

Leaky pipes are another common misfortunes of bathroom plumbing. Keeping drains clear isn’t just for your drains’ health; your pipes bear the brunt of blockages, with increased pressures causing small to large leaks. Excess water pressure, corrosion, broken seals, and temperature changes can also promote leaks. Unless they have previous experience, some homeowners get DIY-happy and try to patch up minor leaks themselves. It may be a good idea in theory, but if something goes wrong, it can come back with a vengeance. Be sure to have a professional plumber on call to fix the pesky leaks!

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