Common Plumbing Terms You Should Know [Complete Guide]

Pipes, pipes, and more pipes. The word conjures up images of long metal tubes carrying water from a faucet to the washing machine or toilet. But plumbing is much more than that! It’s also an essential part of our daily lives.

We need it to drink, clean ourselves, cook food and wash clothes. And we can’t live without it! Yet many people are not at all familiar with what plumbers do and how they work on a day-to-day basis.

This article will provide you with some basic information about what plumbers do so that you’ll be better equipped to deal with them should the need arise in your home or business building.

The following section discusses common plumbing terms you should know.

Common Plumbing Terms You Need To Know

Here are some of the most common plumbing terms you should be aware of:

Shut-Off Valve

A shut-off valve is a plumbing device that allows you to stop the flow of water through a pipe. This can be handy if you need to repair or replace a section of pipe, or if you need to turn off the water supply to a fixture or appliance.

Most shut-off valves are located near the point where the water supply enters your home. They may be marked with a red handle to indicate that they are in the “on” position.


A faucet is a type of valve that regulates the flow of water in a pipe. It is usually used to control the temperature and pressure of the water that comes out of it. There are many different types of faucets, but they all serve the same basic purpose.


An auger is a tool that is used to clear blockages in plumbing. It is a long, coiled metal wire that can be inserted into the pipe to break up the blockage. Augers come in different sizes, depending on the size of the pipe they are being used in.

They can also be electric or manual. Electric augers are powered by a motor and are more powerful than manual augers. Manual augers require you to use your own muscle power to turn the handle to rotate the wire.

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Copper Piping

Copper piping is one of the most common types of piping used in plumbing systems. It is made of copper and has a life expectancy of 50 years or more. Copper piping is durable, easy to install, and does not corrode.

Copper pipes are available in several sizes, including 1/2 inch, 3/4 inch, and 1 inch. When choosing a size, you need to consider the flow rate of the water and the pressure rating of the pipe.

The flow rate is the amount of water that can flow through the pipe in a certain amount of time, and the pressure rating is the maximum amount of pressure that the pipe can withstand.


A drain is a plumbing fixture that is used to remove wastewater and other liquid wastes from a building. Drains can be either horizontal or vertical, and they can be made from a variety of materials, including metal, plastic, or cast iron. Most drains are connected to a waste pipe, which carries the wastewater to a municipal sewer system or a septic tank.


Flappers are one of the most common pieces of plumbing hardware in a home. They are found in toilet tanks and are responsible for keeping water from flowing into the bowl when the toilet is not in use.

When you flush, the flapper opens to allow water to flow into the bowl and then closes afterward to prevent it from flowing back out. If your flapper is old or damaged, it may not close properly which can lead to water leakage and higher water bills.

If you think your flapper needs replaced, you can buy a new one at most hardware stores. Simply remove the old one by unscrewing it from the tank and replacing it with the new one. Be sure to follow the instructions that come with the new flapper

Float Valve

Float valve is a device used to maintain a desired level of liquid in a tank. The float valve contains a weighted piston that floats on the surface of the liquid. The piston is connected to a lever, which is attached to the valve stem.

When the level of the liquid falls below the desired level, the piston drops and opens the valve, allowing more liquid to flow into the tank. When the level of the liquid rises above the desired level, the piston rises and closes the valve, preventing additional liquid from flowing into the tank. Float valves are often used in water tanks, fuel tanks, and chemical tanks.


One of the most commonly used materials for float valves is PVC. It is a durable material that can withstand high pressure and temperature variations. It is also relatively inexpensive, making it a cost-effective option for many applications.

Additionally, PVC is easy to work with, making it a popular choice among DIYers. When choosing a PVC float valve, it is important to select the right size and type of fitting depending on your application. There are a variety of fittings available, so be sure to select the one that best meets your needs.

Tankless Water Heater

Tankless water heaters are becoming more and more popular as people learn about their many benefits. These heaters don’t require a storage tank, so they take up much less space than traditional tank-style water heaters.

They’re also more energy-efficient since they only heat water when it’s needed. Tankless water heaters come in both gas and electric models. Gas models are more popular, but electric models are gaining ground because of their energy efficiency.

Some people are hesitant to switch to a tankless heater because they’re worried about the initial cost. But with the rising cost of energy, the money you’ll save on your monthly utility bills will likely offset the initial cost of the heater.

Water Meter

Water meters are becoming increasingly important as the world moves towards a more sustainable future. They can help people and businesses conserve water, which is a precious resource.

Water meters work by recording how much water is used. This information can then be used to help people and businesses understand their water usage patterns and make changes where necessary. For example, if a business finds that they are using a lot of water during the day, they may need to reconsider their water usage habits.

Water meters can also help people save money on their water bills. By understanding their water usage patterns, people can adjust their behavior to use less water, which will lead to smaller bills.

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An o-ring, also known as a packing, is a mechanical seal used in static or dynamic applications to prevent the leakage of fluid or gas. O-rings are usually circular in cross-section and typically made of elastomeric materials such as rubber, silicone, urethane, or fluorocarbon. They are commonly used in oilfield applications because they can operate at high temperatures and pressures and are resistant to many chemicals.

Access Panel

An access panel is a door, panel, or hatch that provides access to an enclosed area, such as a crawl space, attic, or mechanical room. Access panels are typically made of metal or plastic and may be rectangular, square, or round.

They may have a hinged door, or they may be in the form of a panel that can be removed from the frame. Access panels are used to provide easy access to areas that would otherwise be difficult to reach.

They are also used to allow entry into an area for inspection or repair work. Some access panels are designed to be locked in order to prevent unauthorized access.

Vent Stack

A vent stack is a vertical pipe that allows the escape of gas or smoke from a sewer or drainage system. Vent stacks are typically located near the roof of a building and extend upwards through the roof to release the gas or smoke outside.

The purpose of a vent stack is to allow the escape of unpleasant odors and gases from the sewer or drainage system. Without a vent stack, these gases would accumulate in the building and create an unpleasant environment.

Additionally, without a vent stack, wastewater and sewage would not be able to drain properly, which could lead to costly damage.

Water Hammer

Water hammer is a condition that can occur in a piping system when there is a sudden change in the direction of flow. This change in direction can cause a shock wave, or “hammer,” to travel through the piping system. The shock wave can create noise and vibration, and it can also damage the piping system.

Check Valve

A check valve is a type of valve used to prevent the backflow of fluid. It is a one-way valve that allows fluid to flow in one direction and prevents it from flowing in the opposite direction.

This type of valve is commonly used in piping systems to prevent the backflow of water or other fluids. The check valve is a simple device that consists of a disc or ball that is placed in the path of the fluid.

When the fluid tries to flow in the opposite direction, the disc or ball will block the flow. The check valve can be opened and closed by means of a lever, handle, or screwdriver.

Water Closet

The water closet is a term used for a room that houses a toilet. It is also known as a lavatory, bathroom, or loo. The term originated in the United Kingdom where it is still most commonly used, and it is also widely used in the United States. A water closet typically contains a toilet, a sink, and a shower or bathtub. Some newer water closets also include a bidet.


Potable water, or drinking water, is water that is safe to drink. This term usually refers to water that has been treated by a municipal water system and meets standards set by the EPA. Potable water can also come from other sources, such as a private well.

Water treatment plants use a variety of methods to make sure that the water is safe to drink. Some common treatments include filtration, chlorination, and ozonation. These treatments help remove bacteria, parasites, and other contaminants from the water.

Dip Tube

A dip tube is a piece of tubing that is inserted into a container to help with the dispensing of its contents. The dip tube helps to keep the container upright, and also helps to prevent air from entering the container and mixing with its contents.

This can be especially helpful when dispensing thick or viscous substances, as it can help to minimize the amount of air that is mixed in with the substance. Dip tubes are often made from materials such as plastic or metal and can vary in size depending on the needs of the individual container.

They are most commonly found in containers such as bottles or jars, but can also be used in other types of containers as well.


CPVC, or chlorinated polyvinyl chloride, is a plastic made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) that has been chlorinated. This makes it resistant to corrosion and chemicals, which is why it is often used for piping in chemical plants and other industrial settings.

It also has high heat resistance, making it a good choice for hot water systems. CPVC pipes are available in both rigid and flexible forms and can be joined using standard fittings.

While CPVC is not as common as copper or PVC pipes in residential plumbing applications, it does have some advantages. It is cheaper than copper piping and much more resistant to corrosion and chemicals.

It also handles heat better than PVC, making it a better choice for hot water systems.

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An aerator is a device that introduces air into water. By doing so, it increases the amount of oxygen available to fish and other aquatic life. It also helps to prevent the water from becoming stagnant, which can lead to the growth of harmful algae.

There are many different types of aerators, including surface aerators, bottom aerators, and diffused air systems. Surface aerators are typically mounted on floats and use either mechanical or hydraulic pumps to move air and water around.

Bottom aerators sit on the bottom of the pond or lake and use a blower to force air through a pipe system. Diffused air systems use pipes to deliver air directly to the bottom of the pond or lake.

Septic Tank

A septic tank is a watertight container that receives the wastewater from a home or building. The tank is usually made of concrete, plastic, or fiberglass. The wastewater enters the tank through a pipe that runs from the home or building to the tank.

Septic tanks are used in areas where there is no public sewer system. A septic tank can also be used as an emergency backup system for a public sewer system.

The wastewater in the septic tank is broken down by bacteria. The liquid part of the wastewater (the effluent) flows out of the tank and into a drainage field. The solids (the sludge) stay in the tank and are decomposed over time.

Sanitary Tee

Sanitary Tee is a type of plumbing fitting that allows you to branch off from the main pipe. It is commonly used in bathroom and kitchen fixtures, as well as in the irrigation industry.

Sanitary Tee fittings are made from various materials, including brass, copper, galvanized steel, and plastic. There are two types of Sanitary Tee fittings- the straight tee and the reducing tee.

The straight tee has three equal-sized openings, while the reducing tee has one larger opening and two smaller openings. Both types of fittings are available in threaded or pressurized versions.

Pressure Tank

A pressure tank is a container that holds water under pressure. This pressure can be used to power a water pump, which will then provide water for your home. A typical pressure tank will hold 10-20 gallons of water and has a built-in pressure gauge to help you monitor the tank’s level of pressure.

If you’re in need of a new pressure tank, be sure to shop around and compare prices. You can typically find good deals on pressure tanks at home improvement stores or online retailers.

When shopping for a new pressure tank, be sure to get the right size and type for your needs. There are both standard and compact pressure tanks available, so be sure to pick the right one for your home.


A pressure tank is a container that is used to store water under pressure. This type of tank is often used in homes and businesses to provide a steady flow of water, even when the demand for water is high.

A pressure tank can also help to reduce wear and tear on your home’s water system by providing a buffer between the pump and the faucets. There are several factors that you should consider when choosing a pressure tank for your home.

The first factor is the size of the tank. You will need to choose a tank that is large enough to meet your needs, but not so large that it takes up too much space.

Pipe Threads

Pipe threads are the grooves that are cut into the outside of a pipe in order to create a seal when two pipes are joined together. Pipe threads can be cut into either the male or female end of a pipe, and there are several different types of thread standards that are used.

The most common type of pipe thread is known as NPT, which stands for National Pipe Thread. NPT threads have a 60-degree angle and are tapered, meaning that they get narrower as they go down the length of the thread. They are used extensively in the United States and Canada.

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Final Words

Plumbing can be a bit of a mystery to those who are not familiar with it. But by knowing the common terms used in the plumbing world, you can be sure to ask the right questions and understand what your plumber is telling you.

So the next time you have a plumbing issue, don’t be afraid to ask your plumber about sanitary tees or pressure tanks- you’ll be glad you know what they are!

These are just a few of the most common plumbing terms that you should know. If you’re ever in need of repairs or installation services, be sure to consult a professional plumber.

They will be able to help you with all your plumbing needs and will be able to explain any terms that you don’t understand. Thanks for reading!