Residential Plumbing System Overview
Plumbing refers to the entire system in which water enters a home, travels to the sinks, tubs, showers and appliances and then leaves once it has been used.
How Water Reaches the House
In general drinking water comes from surface water or ground water. It is piped to the treatment plant where the water is treated to remove contaminants. In a typical community water supply system, water is transported under pressure through a distribution network of buried pipes. Smaller pipes, called house service lines, are attached to the main water lines to bring water to the house.
The water meter can be located underground and is identified by the water meter cover in the yard. Water meters can also be found on the inside of a home. A valve at the meter can be turned on and off by the city.Once the water line reaches the house, the main water shut off valve allows the homeowner to shut off the water for repairs. The main water shut off valve is typically located in the basement or crawl space on the wall closest to the street.
After the shut off valve the water line will branch off. One branch supplies water directly to the cold water side of your fixtures and the other branch supplies water to your water heater. Water is piped into the water heater, heated, and then piped back out to the hot water side of the fixtures.
Used water inside the house is sent through the drain and sewer system. The sewer line is located in the basement, crawl space or in the cement slab foundation. All sewer and drain pipes connect to the main sewer line which eventually connects to the public sewer line that runs under the ground.
Note: The supply branch and shut off valve for a sprinkler system is normally located immediately after the main water shut off. (Sprinkler systems require seasonal start up and shut down to prevent freezing and broken lines.)
Sump Pumps In some areas of the country you will find sump pits and pumps in the basements or crawl spaces of homes. A sump pump is a pump used to remove water that has accumulated in a sump pit. A sump pit is a hole that collects water from a foundation’s perimeter drain or ground water, if the basement is below the water table level. Water collecting in the pit is pumped out and away from the foundation. Since a sump pit may overflow if the pump stops working. A backup system is important if the electrical supply to the pump will be interrupted for any length of time.