Do you know how your home’s plumbing works? If you’re like many homeowners, you don’t think twice about plumbing until something goes wrong.

When all pipes are flowing smoothly, the details are out of sight and out of mind. But plumbing becomes a real concern as soon as something overflows, breaks or clogs. Even if you’ve hit that point, having some surface-level knowledge could save you from a mess.

Let’s take a look at the basics:

How does household plumbing work?

Two-Way Water Flow

Plumbing flows in two directions: in or out of your home. The water coming in is fresh water. It’s used for bathing, flushing toilets, washing hands, making ice, etc.

Outward-flowing water is wastewater. This includes everything that exits your home through a drain pipe, from the garbage disposal to the drain on your washing machine.

The Flow Process

The fresh water pipe uses pressure to move water up and through your home. Once within the home, it diverges into two separate lines. One line is immediately ready for use. This is your home’s cold water.

The second pipe sends cold water through a heater, giving you hot water. Incoming water pipes are installed with localized valves you can open or close to control water flow.

Once fresh water is flushed, it becomes wastewater. Gravity sends wastewater through an S-shaped pipe before forcing it down into a septic tank or sewer. The S-shaped pipe, combined with outdoor open-air pipes, stops sewer gas from entering the home.

Dealing With Clogs

There are three main ways to unclog a wastewater pipe:

  1. Chemical solutions. Use sparingly, as these are highly corrosive.
  2. Tools such as a plunger (for all pipes, not just toilets).
  3. Disconnecting and cleaning the clogged drain pipe.

Have additional questions? Get in touch.