If you’ve ever spoken to an expert plumber or made at the local hardware shop to do some DIY plumbing, you’ve likely come across a variety of complicated terminology. This issue becomes more evident when you consider that houses can come with different types of septic systems each with distinct characteristics.
The glossary below contains common and unusual plumbing terms which are alphabetized and broken into categories to facilitate searching.
Common Plumbing Terms
Bleeding: to release excess air from a pipe via opening of a valve near the end.
Brass general slang word for any type of faucet or fixture.
Branch Drain Drain for fixtures that connects directly to the drain pipe.
Flux: the liquid waste that is disposed of in an sewer system.
fitting: word used to define any piece of pipe that joins two pipe sections.
Flow rate: what percentage of the water moves through a system of plumbing and is determined in either gallons per minute (GPM) or per hour (GPH).
Gallons per flush (GPF): measurement of the quantity of water needed for flushing; used to regulate flush valves. 1.6 GPF is currently the legal maximum allowed for new toilets.
Gray Water the waste of water from fixtures that are not toilets.
KiloPascal (kPa): metric unit of pressure equal to one 100th of an atmosphere.
Maximum Containment Level (MCL): maximum quantity of a contaminant allowed in a water supply as per law.
Non-Ferrous: contains no iron.
Potable drinking water that’s safe to drink.
Pressure Head A measurement unit for the pressure of plumbing systems, describing the force vertically caused by water in the depth of one foot.
Riser horizontal supply pipe that transport liquid from the branch either to the fixture or to the floor above.
Sediment particles that collect on the bottom of tanks of water.
Soil Pipe pipes that carry waste and water from toilets.
trap seal: the water in the trap acts as a seal for liquids.
Trap Weir: the highest level of water that is drained in P-traps as well as S-traps.
water Hammer: a loud noise that is produced by the water supply being abruptly cut off to a fixture which causes hydraulic shock.
Installation of plumbing fixtures and components
Aerator Install a screw onto an nozzle for faucets that decreases water splashing through mixing of air with the water flowing.
Ball Check Valve Valve that uses the use of a ball that can be sealed against a seat in order to stop the flow of fluid in one direction.
Closet Bend A curved pipe that is located under the toilet that connects it to drain.
Clothes Flange The ring that is used to fix a toilet in place which connects it to the bend of the closet and is sometimes referred to as the floor flange.
flow control valve device that can cut costs and improve efficiency through cutting down on the flow of water to the plumbing fixture.
Gasket flat , rubber or fiber rings that is used to form an airtight connection between metallic fixtures.
Interceptor: device which separates grease and oil away from drainage systems.
Main The main pipe in the drain or supply system, to which all branches join.
Manifold fitting which connects various branches with the central one, and acts as an distribution point.
O-Ring Round rubber washer that is used to seal valve stems with water.
Scald Guard Valve that keeps the equilibrium between cold and hot the pressure of your water in your shower. It does this by shifting forward and back behind the handle of your shower in reaction to sudden drops in pressure.
Shutoff Valve Valve under the sink or toilet that shuts off water supply to repair.
Tee Tee-shaped fitting that is used in the intersection of three pipes.
trap: A curved section in pipe designed to hold enough water to keep out, or seal the area of pipe from gases or odors as well as bugs.
Valve Seat: the stationary portion of the valve.
Vent: sloped or vertical section of drainpipe made to allow sewer gases to escape and be replaced with outdoor air so that pressure is not lost in the venting.
water Hammer Arrestor gadget that prevents banging sound referred to as water hammer. It works by taking the shock of hydraulics by sudden cutting off the supply of water to a fixture.
Wye Fitting drainage fitting, which joins two pipe sections at 45 degrees.
Plumbing Tools and Materials
ABS Short of Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene The black pipe is very rigid and often found in vents, drains, as well as waste pipes.
Auger Flexible rod, with an angled end that is that is used to remove clogs from the trap of a toilet.
Blowbag: tool with an nozzle and a rubber bladder connected to a hose, and placed into a drain that is blocked in which it expands to fill the pipe, and then releases the water in bursts, forcing to clear the blockage.
CPVC: chlorinated polyvinyl-chloride, black PVC pipe that has been treated to withstand high temperatures. It is commonly employed to supply water in systems.
Dope Plumbing lubricant that is used for threads of pipes.
polybutylene (PB): flexible tubing, which is commonly used to plumbing lines to connect bathroom fixtures.
Polyester (PE): flexible pipes commonly employed for supply lines.
PEX Polyethylene with crosslinking; more durable than regular PE.
plumber’s paste: Putty that has dough-like consistency, used to seal connections between fixtures and the metal pieces.
Plunger It is also known as “plumber’s helper” 6 inch suction cup made of rubber with wooden handle that is commonly used to clean the drains as well as toilets.
PVC is a stiff white pipes composed of polyvinyl chloride plastic commonly used to drain and vent pipes to vent waste.
Snake Flexible, thin wire of spiral-wound steel that is able to slide down drains and rotates to clear obstructions.
Teflon Tape Polymer fluorocarbon tape that has non-stick characteristics. It can be wrapped over the threads pipes to provide a more secure joint seal.
Septic System Specific Components
Absorption Field Seeping fields designed to remove and filter the liquid waste of an septic tank. Also called Leach Field.
Leach Lines: pipes which carry the liquid waste from the septic tank and into an absorption or leach field.
Septic Tank huge underground storage tank typically used in rural settings where sewers aren’t readily available. It temporary storage of waste in the form of bacteria, and gravity breaks it into liquids, solids and sludge prior to the liquids are drained onto an absorption zone.