Your Home Plumbing System

House plumbing iconFor the most part, you do not see it, think about it, or worry about it until something goes wrong. Within your home's walls, floors, and in the yard lies your home plumbing system. At first glance, it may seem to be a complex system of pipes, fittings, valves, and fixtures that seem to go in every different direction but your home plumbing system is actually rather simple and straightforward.

A home plumbing system is made up of three basic components:

  • A fresh water supply system
  • Appliances and fixtures
  • A drain system

Let's begin our investigation into a home plumbing system by first looking at the source of the fresh water (potable) supply system. The water we use enters our home through the main water supply line. Here in the City and County of Broomfield, the water supply lines are connected to the water treatment and supply system and pass through a meter that registers the volume of water used, which determines your monthly water bill. In addition, your sewer bill is calculated based upon your use of municipal water during the winter months of November - March when outdoor usage is minimal or non-existent. An average family of four in Broomfield uses approximately 320 gallons of water per day.

Now that the main water supply line has entered the home, it splits off and a pipe runs to the hot water heater. From the hot water heater, a hot water line parallels the cold water line to supply sinks, showers, bathtubs, clothes washers, and dishwashers. Toilets and outside faucets are supplied by cold water lines only. The water supply to the home's fixtures and appliances is then controlled with faucets and valves. Any water used in the home and not consumed enters the drain system and now is known as "Wastewater."

In order for wastewater to be safely removed from your home, it must first flow through a trap, a U-shaped pipe that holdsU-Shaped Pipe standing water and prevents sewer gases from entering your home. This trap is also called a "P" trap due its shape. The pipe exiting the trap must be angled slightly downward to facilitate the flow of wastewater into the drain system. If a drain line is not used for a lengthy period of time, these traps may become dry and sewer odors can enter your home. All you need to do is to pour water into the drain to refill the trap and eliminate the odor. By state and local plumbing codes, every fixture must have a drain trap.

So how does the wastewater leave the home? Are there pumps in the house? The drain system within your home works entirely by gravity thus allowing wastewater to flow downhill through a series of large diameter pipes. Therefore, no pumps are needed. The drainpipes are also connected to a vent pipe system running up through the roof that brings fresh air to the drainpipes, preventing suction that would either stop or slow the free flow of wastewater. The vent pipes are important and you must take care to ensure that these roof vents do not become clogged resulting in slow drains or backups. Two of the most common ways the vent pipes become clogged are bird nests and leaves.

All of the wastewater generated within your home flows to the main waste and vent stack. The main vent stack curves to become a sewer line that exits the house near the foundation. This line is known as your sewer service line. Each service line then runs to a collector sewer line in the street or in the rear of the home. There are a few areas where sewer service is not available, and these homes have their sewer service lines running to a septic system. In simple terms, a septic system is a mini-wastewater treatment system designed and engineered for an individual home to treat, neutralize, stabilize or dispose of sewage. The final piece of the wastewater drainage system for your home is a ground level Y-cleanout, or two-way cleanout, which allows blockages to be more easily removed.
House plumbing