Take a look at those unassuming white PVC pipes poking up from your roof at intervals. Called vents, they are very important features of your plumbing system. Some people know they introduce air to help water run smoothly and quickly through drain pipes. Others know they steer sewer gas into the great outdoors rather than into our houses. But few people understand that vents break the siphon as a sink or bathtub or toilet finishes emptying, allowing a small quantity of water to remain in the U-shaped “trap” underneath the drain. This leftover water stays there until the next time you use the fixture, sealing off sewer gas from flowing into your house. Skimp on vents, and 40 gallons of high-velocity water leaving one bathtub could pull water away from every trap in the house!
Whew, your home plumbing system is more complicated than it seems. It’s stocked with behind-the-scenes components, complicated equipment and mysterious processes that keep water – one of the sneakiest and most damaging materials we use in our homes – contained and flowing only where and when and how much we want it to. Plumbing is truly an art that demands experience and skill because one leaky joint can inflict thousands of dollars in damage. A single undersized drain can clog repeatedly. Supply pipes will rattle if they aren’t anchored every few feet.
Thankfully, plumbers undergo lengthy training, apprenticeship and certification, so most residential plumbing works precisely as intended for long periods of time. Every system requires periodic maintenance, however, to avoid water waste and replace worn-out parts. Parts that age and require replacement before leakage occurs include:
Rather than worry about maintenance themselves, many homeowners opt for plumbing tune-ups like those offered by Service America. A comprehensive tune-up completely inspects the system all at once, evaluating the condition of piping, pump, drains, faucets, sinks, toilet seals, tubs, showers, showerheads, water pressure valves, washing machine, dishwasher and more.
With a little TLC and professional care, you can count for years to come on your home plumbing – a marvelous system that turns out to be filled with interesting twists, turns and facts. Like this one: the word plumbing comes from the latin plumbum, which means lead. That’s also why lead is abbreviated as Pb on the periodic table!
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