The Different Types of Plumbing in Your Home

Plumbing is the system of pipes and fixtures that distributes water and removes waste in a building. Plumbers install, repair, and maintain these systems. They must have a high school diploma and complete an apprenticeship program.


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The water supply lines in a house, sometimes called the water main, carry fresh, clean water to every faucet and fixture. They are usually buried underground and made from copper, brass, galvanized steel or PVC, although some houses have older pipes that are lead or even cast iron. These plumbing pipes are the lifeline of the home, so it’s important to have a licensed plumber service them regularly to keep them in good working order and to avoid expensive water leaks.

Most homes get their water from a municipal water system. Others draw their water from private wells. Regardless of where the water comes from, most of these systems are similar: The water is pumped or stored at a treatment plant where it’s cleaned and treated to make it safe to drink. The water is then piped to the homes through a distribution system.

Water distribution systems must meet the demands of a wide variety of people and use cases, including domestic, commercial, industrial, and fire fighting needs. Hence, the complexity and cost of designing these water supply networks. They have to be planned taking into account the location of the water source, current and future demand, leakage rates, pressure losses, pipe size requirements, fire fighting flows and many other factors.

In some countries, the distribution system is owned and operated by a public entity such as a municipality or government agency. In other countries, it is privately owned and operated by a commercial organization such as a water utility.

These water distribution systems need to be designed to ensure the quality of the water at the point of use. They must be able to deal with water leaking from water lines, as well as back-flow from non-potable water or wastewater into potable water supplies (cross-connections). They must also be able to cope with the hydraulic constraints of minimum energy costs and water network capacity. In addition, they need to be designed and managed in a way that minimizes the financial costs of operation and maintenance. This is a complex task that requires the expertise of professional city planners and civil engineers.


The drainage system takes water and waste away from fixtures, such as sinks, toilets, and washing machines. It uses downward angled pipes to play gravity’s favor and carry wastewater to the sewer line. It also includes drain traps to prevent foul odors from entering the home.

Like the water supply system, it’s important to keep the drainage pipes in good condition. Blocked drains can cause a lot of damage in a short period, so it’s essential to spot a problem as early as possible.

One way is to examine the drains themselves for signs of blockage, such as water seepage. Another is to look for evidence of structural issues, such as loose or cracked pipes, which may need to be replaced. If you suspect there’s a problem with the drains to your home, contact a plumbing company.

Plumbers have a range of tools to investigate and repair problems with the drainage system, including CCTV drain cameras. These can reveal a wide range of issues, such as stress cracks, blocked drains, tree roots, and more. They can then use high-pressure jetting to clean pipes, removing any blockages and flushing out the drains.

For more serious issues, they might need to dig up the pipe and replace it, or install a new trap or junction. It’s also important to prevent water from flowing into the drainage system in the first place, which is why it’s crucial to divert rainwater away from the house.

The drainage system is usually separated from the water supply system, with no overlapping pipes. But there are bridges connecting the two systems, which plumbers refer to as fixtures. These include things such as sinks, toilets, and bathtubs. They are where clean water enters the home and wastewater exits, so it’s important that they are installed correctly.

The plumbing system is a complex network of pipes, and understanding how it works can help you avoid any major problems in the future. It’s also a great idea to teach kids the basics of plumbing, so they know how to be careful with water and what to do if something goes wrong.


As a homeowner, it’s important to understand all the parts of your home’s plumbing system. This includes the drainage and supply lines as well as vent pipes. While most people know that drains allow waste and water to flow away from the toilet, sink or bathtub, few realize that your vent pipes play an essential role in your home’s plumbing system. The vent pipe, also known as the plumbing air vent or vent stack, regulates the air pressure within your drain pipes so that waste and water can flow easily through them. Without this, your drains could become clogged and your home may smell like sewage.

Plumbing vents prevent a vacuum from forming behind a drain line, which could cause water to be sucked back into the fixture, or even out of your home. The vent system also ensures that the water in a drain trap is always fresh and prevents sewer gases from entering the house. Without proper venting, wastewater and noxious odors would build up in rooms throughout the home and potentially poison a family’s health.

Vent pipes connect directly to the drain line or behind a plumbing attachment, like a tub or sink, and run up through the wall. There are many types of vent pipes, each with its own unique advantages, installation requirements and use-cases. Here are a few common types of plumbing vents and where they’re typically located:

The primary purpose of a plumbing vent is to maintain constant air pressure in a drain pipe. When a new drain opens, the water flows into the trap and creates a suction effect that must be filled with fresh air for the system to continue working properly. The vent system fills the vacuum with air to keep pressure balanced, and it prevents siphoning that can occur when a drain is closed.

If a plumbing vent is blocked, the system won’t be able to balance air pressure and the traps will lose their water seal. Over time, this can lead to a buildup of sediment in the drain pipes and eventually result in costly repairs or replacements. If you suspect that your vents are blocked, a quick check can usually reveal the problem. You can try running a little water down the drains to refill the traps, but if you’re experiencing gurgling noises or a strong sewer odor, it’s best to call a professional.

Plumbing Types

Whether they carry fresh water to your kitchen faucet or drain waste into your sewage system, the plumbing pipes throughout your home perform a critical function. They silently ensure your daily conveniences by connecting your fixtures to a central network that directs both supply lines and waste removal. As you may have guessed, the pipes themselves come in various shapes, sizes and materials. Understanding the difference between common plumbing types can help you spot potential problems and make informed decisions about repair and replacement options.

The most common home plumbing pipes are those used for the water supply. These can be made of copper, PVC or CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride), galvanized steel or other metals such as brass or bronze. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages, but they all work to efficiently supply clean, potable water.

Rigid copper pipe, a mainstay within the plumbing industry for decades, can last upwards of 50 years and offers corrosion resistance, which can preserve water quality. It also comes in a flexible option for tight spaces. PVC, on the other hand, is a versatile solution that can withstand high water pressure, and it requires neither soldering nor gluing to connect fittings. It’s also lightweight and resistant to rust, which can prevent blockages.

While the most common home plumbing pipes are PVC, CPVC and copper, you’re likely to find older galvanized steel pipes in some homes. These are a good choice for non-potable water drains and for gas supply lines. Galvanized steel pipes are heavy, however, which limits their use for water supply lines.

For more modern plumbing solutions, you’re likely to encounter plastic pipe in newer homes. This popular, cost-effective pipe is lightweight and resistant to rust, making it an ideal solution for many applications. It’s also safe to use indoors and outdoor, which is a huge benefit for homeowners. Lastly, it doesn’t require gluing or soldering to connect fittings, which is a big plus for many plumbers and homeowners alike. If you’re interested in upgrading your home, a plumber will be able to provide more details about your current plumbing system and help you choose the best type of pipe for your specific needs.