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What is Basic Plumbing? Comprehensive Guide for 2024

There are many different moving pieces to a home, but one of the most vital is the plumbing system. While this is one of the most important systems in a home, it’s not common for the average homeowner to know a lot about how it actually works. 

It seems pretty simple at first glance— when you turn on the faucet, water comes out. When you get ready to take a shower, turn the knob, water comes out. Need to wash your clothes or do the dishes? Water appears to do the job. When you do your business in the bathroom, a simple flush, and everything is washed away. New water appears, and all is well! Want to water the lawn? Wash your car? Turn on the hose, and water is flowing.

These are some of the most common tasks that we do at our homes, but the average homeowner knows little about the innerworkings of residential plumbing actually works. It’s not necessary to be a full-fledged plumber— that’s what plumbers in New Westminster are for— but it does help to have a basic understanding of how plumbing works. 

When a homeowner knows plumbing basics , it’s easier for them to know what is actually going on in their homes when performing basic tasks; it can also help in terms of making small repairs or adjustments on their own or knowing when to call for a New Westminster plumber. 

This is really important because you can avoid trying to do a quick fix that may actually cause more damage in the long run. 

In this article, we’re going to discover the basics of home plumbing and what the typical homeowner should be aware of. 

Plumbing 101

In essence, plumbing abides by standard physics; you’ll find that it involves pressure, water leveling, as well as gravity moving things up and down. A home plumbing system is basically divided into two separate systems that run simultaneously. 

The two systems involved in home plumbing include a freshwater system that will bring clean water in, and one system that will remove wastewater, which is the water that is no longer sanitary nor desired in the home. 

We’re going to learn about these two divisions separately, first discussing wastewater and then moving along to how freshwater is brought into a home. 

Home Drainage 

While there are two principal kinds of drain systems, sewer and septic, both are going to service the same purpose at the end of the day, and there isn’t going to be any pressure involved. 

Drainage systems work based on levels, which means that they are going to be designed to slant downward so that the water can be pulled out of the home. These drainage lines all drain out into a sewage facility or will go into the septic tank. 

While this sounds relatively simpledrainage systems are quite complex, as there are a lot of different functionalities that make them work the way they do. These different parts include vents, traps, and cleanouts. If you have never heard of any of these parts, don’t worry. 

We’re going to tell you a bit about each of these basic drainage system functions and what you may be able to take care of on your own, and when you should call in a New Westminster plumber. 


Traps are one of the most important elements of any drainage system, and they are a part of every sink in every home. They are located below the sink, and they are found in the curved part of the pipe below the drain. All fixtures must have a trap, as they cannot function properly without it. 

The purpose of a trap is as it sounds— when water flows down from the basin with enough force to go through the trap, most will go out through the drainpipe, but some will stay in the trap so that you don’t get water backflow or sewer gas. The water will create a seal within the trap so that your home stays protected from this unpleasant gas. 

In terms of the kitchen sink, you may find an additional trap that is meant to capture grease, known as grease traps, but these are more frequently used in commercial kitchens. Even still, grease traps are helpful because they can help to prevent drain clogging over time. 

If you aren’t sure whether or not your home kitchen has a grease trap, you should call in a professional plumber to make sure that you know the answer, and it’s very important to know. If it doesn’t have a grease trap, you need to make sure you do not pour the grease down the drain. 

If your sink doesn’t have a grease trap, pouring it down the kitchen sink can cause deterioration and clogging which can lead to costly repairs and will need to be done by a New Westminster plumber. You should pour the grease into another container and then throw it away. 


Another part of the trap is known as the clean-out plug, which essentially helps make getting rid of clogging and blockage easily through a quick access point. 

If a drain has a small clog, it’s not uncommon for homeowners to be apple to take care of this on their own. If you feel that the clogged drain is really serious and you haven’t been able to get rid of it, don’t try any additional home remedies. 

It’s not uncommon for people to pour chemical drain cleaner down their drains repeatedly to try and break up clogging, but this can be detrimental to your plumbing system and eat away at your pipes. It’s much better to call in a professional to avoid damage. 


While the average homeowner may not think of this as a type of plumbing, there are a variety of vents that are necessary for plumbing systems to function properly. 

Vents are used in plumbing to bring in an air supply so that the waste can leave the plumbing system correctly and without issue. There needs to be some air in the drains that helps the water flow out as it should. 

If there is no air flow, the water won’t be able to exit the pipes and water buildup would occur, requiring the water to be sucked out or removed manually. Doesn’t sound too great! 

Home Water Sources: Freshwater Entrances 

When water is flowing into your house to be used, this is known as freshwater. It is also pressurized so that it can flow to the required area, otherwise it wouldn’t be able to get where it needs to go. 

There are a variety of different elements that assist your home water sources in doing its job, so we’ll take a look at the different elements of your home plumbing that gets water into your residence. 

Water Main Shut-off Valve 

This is a really important part of a home because there may come a time where you need to shut off the water temporarily, or perhaps you have an emergency and want to cut the water at its source.  If you don’t know where your main water shut-off valve is, you should call a New Westminster plumber so that they can indicate it to you, and then you should write it down so that you can remember. It’s not uncommon for people to forget, as it’s not something that is used on a regular basis.  When your plumber points this out to you, make sure that they show you how you need to shut it off in case of an emergency. While we hope that this isn’t the case, you should always know how to turn off your main water source.  If you have a pipe burst or some other plumbing inconvenience, you’ll need to know where to shut the water off so that you can avoid having to pay costly repairs from water damage. 

Hot and Cold Water 

As you probably know, cold water is pretty much available on-demand, as it doesn’t need any additional processing. There are plenty of things you can do with your cold water, including cooking, watering plants, washing things in and around your home, drinking, and more. 

If you need hot water, however, it is necessary for the water to get heated up. There is a pipe that will take your water to the water heater so that it can heat up and be ready for use. There are a few different types of hot water heaters and they are likely to be located either in a closet or some other location that is out of the way. 

People don’t typically think of heating as a part of plumbing, but it definitely is! When you need service for your hot water heater or heating unit, New Westminster plumbing and heating can definitely help make sure things are in proper working order. 

When your water is heated in the water heater, a main line will take the heated water to the place(s) that it is required. The water heater will use its own thermostat to decide when the water is ready to go. 

Individual Stop Valves

There are many different individual fixtures that involve water in a home, so it’s not always convenient to have to shut off the main water valve. The good news is that most appliances or fixtures have their own stop valve, which means it will stop the water from flowing to that particular apparatus. 

Fixtures like sinks, tubs, toilets, and showers all should have a stop valve that is somewhere in the area of the fixture. You can also have your New Westminster plumber indicate these to you on his or her next visit. 

Water Meter 

If you were ever wondering how your water bill is formed, your water meter is the one responsible. When you use water, it will always pass through the water meter so that it can calculate how much you use. It’s common for this to be owned by the main water provider of a town or municipality, because they are the ones that create the bill every month. 

Discover the Benefits of Understanding Your Home Plumbing
Your home’s plumbing system is like the hidden hero that ensures clean water flows in and wastewater flows out seamlessly. While it may seem straightforward when you turn on a faucet or flush a toilet, having a basic understanding of how plumbing works can be incredibly beneficial.
When you grasp the basics of plumbing, you’re better equipped to troubleshoot minor issues and avoid making costly mistakes. It’s all about ensuring your home runs smoothly without unexpected hiccups.
By knowing the inner workings of your plumbing, you can:

  1. Prevent Costly Repairs: Understanding your plumbing system helps you avoid attempting quick fixes that might actually worsen the problem, saving you money in the long run.
  2. Perform DIY Maintenance: Armed with plumbing basics, you can handle small repairs and adjustments on your own, making your life more convenient.
  3. Efficiently Communicate with Professionals: When you do need to call a New Westminster plumber, you can communicate your concerns and issues more effectively, ensuring a faster and more accurate resolution.

Don’t risk causing more harm by ignoring the importance of plumbing knowledge. In this article, we’ll delve into Plumbing 101, providing you with essential insights into your home’s plumbing system. With this knowledge, you’ll have the confidence to keep your home running smoothly and efficiently.

Final Thoughts: Plumbing 101 

You made it through your first basic plumbing lesson! Congrats. Hopefully now you have a better idea of how your water flows into your house and how dirty water gets out of it. 

It’s always important to know where your different valves and fixtures are, so the next time you need to call in for plumbing repair, ask the pro plumbers in New Westminster to help show you a bit more about your system and see how things are going. 

If you feel like you need someone to come in and help show you these things, or if you are having some plumbing trouble that you think needs a look, don’t hesitate to contact New Westminster Plumbing  and we can help get your issue diagnosed and help you determine the best and most practical solution.