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How a Birmingham Home Plumbing System Works

Your home plumbing system uses many components to carry water into your home and waste out. If you’re unfamiliar with how a home plumbing system works, repairs and plumbing problems may feel intimidating. Through this introduction to your home plumbing system, familiarize yourself with the different system components and know exactly how plumbing works in and out of your Birmingham home.

How Your Home Plumbing System Works

Your home plumbing system has two main components: 

  1. the water supply system, which brings fresh water into the home and out through your fixtures
  2. the drain waste system, which moves wastewater out of your home

Main Component of Home Plumbing: Water Supply System (What Goes In)

If you have municipal water at your Birmingham area home, water comes through city lines buried in the ground. A water main line extends from these shared lines up to your street, and a line extends up to your home. A water meter measures the water used on this incoming line and a shutoff valve turns off the water supply.

City water is under pressure to move the water to all supplied homes. If your home has a well, the well pump moves water from the ground source into the home, which is pressurized by the pressure tank.

From your water main lines, smaller plumbing lines run throughout your home, supplying different areas where water is used, such as:

  • Bathrooms
  • Kitchens
  • Laundry rooms
  • Water heaters
  • Outdoor spigots

Water runs to faucets, toilets, and other fixtures throughout your home for use. Many of these fixtures have individual shutoff valves, which allows the homeowner to turn off the water supply to the specific fixture, rather than to the entire home at the main shutoff valve. This is handy when a fixture springs a leak or you have another isolated plumbing problem, like a running toilet.

how a plumbing system works | Douglas Plumbing | Birmingham AL

Illustration credit: DS Plumbing, Ontario, Canada

This diagram illustrates how home plumbing systems generally work. In this example, 

  1. Yellow lines: venting pipes – these exhaust air and gasses from the system
  2. Red lines: hot water supply – these move hot water from the water heater to fixtures
  3. Blue lines: fresh water supply – these bring new water into the house
  4. Black lines: waste pipes – these move “grey” water and sewage from the house to the sewer line

Main Component of Home Plumbing: Drain Waste System (What Goes Out)

A Birmingham household creates wastewater in many ways, such as:

  • Showering and bathing
  • Flushing toilets
  • Washing machine cycles
  • Dishwasher cycles
  • Sinks and drains

The drain waste system helps all this wastewater flow out of your home to a municipal sewer system or septic tank. This home plumbing system uses gravity to move this depressurized water.

Drain waste systems are more complex than the water supply system because they involve a number of vents, traps, and cleanout equipment. Again, gravity helps move this wastewater out of your home. Vent pipes poking out of your roof, as well as P traps under each sink are part of this home plumbing system.

Drainpipes are typically much larger than supply pipes. Drainage is more efficient when the lines are larger. In most homes, the drain waste system includes a component called the cleanout plug. This component allows plumbers to remove clogs that form from waste.

The drain waste system carries wastewater and human waste to a shared sewer line for municipal sewers, or flow out to your septic system, which is waste management for your individual home. Sometimes these drains become slow, emit bad odors, clog or overflow. Plumbers perform snaking, drain clearing or drain cleaning to puncture or flush the clog. 

For Plumbing and Sewer Help Call Douglas Cooling & Heating Douglas Cooling & Heating

If you have trouble with any of the home plumbing system elements mentioned above, contact Douglas Cooling & Heating for expert plumbing repair. Our licensed plumbers find the source of your problem and provide reliable fixes to help your home plumbing system perform at its best. 

We handle minor issues like leaky faucets and clogged toilets to major projects like new plumbing installations and hydro jetting sewer repairs. 

We also perform emergency plumbing repairs if you have situations like a water leak from pipes or a water heater, broken sump pump or a toilet overflows. Need a new water heater? We have finance options for major plumbing equipment purchases. Our licensed plumbers travel throughout the Birmingham, Alabama area. How may we serve you?

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