In this article, I want to educate you on how the basic plumbing system in your house works, step-by-step. So without wasting time, let’s get started.

Is it Septic or Sewer?

Most houses in the Troy area these days are on a city sewer. When you are on a city sewer you have a main sewer line that starts at the street and comes under the foundation into your basement or crawl space. This is usually a 4” pipe and is what usually requires the use of a snake if it gets blocked. In newer homes which use PVC pipe from the street to the house, the need for snaking is greatly reduced.

Now if your house is older and still has clay or cast iron pipe, you may need a snake more often and in severe cases, a complete dig out of the pipe may be needed to replace it. What happens to iron pipe, is the joints in the pipe start to deteriorate over many years causing roots to impede through the broken down joints or cracks in the pipe. When this happens the roots block the drainage of the pipe causing it to back up. Did you know that the roots can actually sense the water running though the pipe? This is why severe pipe cracks and broken down joints can be a problem. Roots are attracted to the moisture in the pipe causing them to grow more rapidly.

If you have an older house it is recommended to have your sewer drain snaked out at least once a year to stop the excessive build up roots in the pipe.

City Water or Well Water?

Just like sewers, most houses in Troy MI area on city water. The water usually comes from the city of Detroit and runs into your house from the street. This is usually run in 1” or ¾ copper and in some cases poly pipe. With city water you are less likely to need a water softener due to its soft water principals.

People with well water may want to consider using a water softener because well water tends to be hard water. When you are on a well which contains a high amount of iron an iron filter and a water softener is recommended because a water softener only softens the water and does not take out a lot of the iron.plumbing-basics-ga-1

Plumbing Pipes

Water pipes inside your house can be made of a few different materials. Depending on how old your house is will usually determine the type of material the pipes are made out of. In older homes mostly built before 1970, you may have galvanized piping for the water supply pipes and cast iron along with galvanized piping for the drain lines. Houses built after 1970 usually contain copper pipes for the water supplies and either copper or PVC for the drain lines.

New houses being built today are mostly using all PVC for sewer line and the all the drain and venting lines. In some cases people are still using a cast iron pipe for the drainage lines. The main reason people are spending the extra money for these new cast iron drain lines is to keep the drain lines quit, so you can’t here the water running through them. This install is usually used in higher end homes.

Modern day water piping is starting to go away from the traditional copper piping. The latest material on the rise is called PEX short for Cross linked Polyethylene piping. This new type of water piping is much easier and cheaper than it copper counterpart. There is no soldering and no hazardous materials used to install the pipes. PEX has been getting great reviews in residential plumbing due to its easy ability to install and once you crimp the pipe, it rarely leaks when installed properly.

Plumbing Fixtures

You plumbing fixtures in your house must contain all of the following. Kitchen sink, lavatory sink, toilet, bathtub, washer hookup and a water heater usually at least 40 gallons. You can have more fixtures as you wish, however you cannot have any less than what is stated. All plumbing fixture must contain a vent. The venting can either a mechanical air vent or vented in a way according to your local plumbing code.

The faucets on the kitchen sink or lavatory sink can be either single or double handle but bathtub and shower faucets need to have scald guard protection and are usually single handle to be able to accommodate this plumbing code. Here are some of the most common manufactures of plumbing fixtures. Delta, Kohler, Moen, Grohe, Briggs, Mansfield and Pro-Flo.

Water Heaters

Water heaters in residential homes are usually between 40 to 75 gallons or Tank-less. Tank water heaters use a ½ gas line while tank-less water require a ¾ gas hookup. Tank water heaters can either be vented by a standard vent through a chimney or they may have motor on the top which blows the carbon monoxide out through scheduled 40 PVC pipe. Tank-less water heaters use their own venting pipes which have an exhaust and an intake for air. Tank-less water heaters also only fire when you turn on the hot water side of the faucet. This saves money in gas because they are not heating water even if you don’t use like a tank water heater does.

Tank-less water heaters are more expensive that tank heaters but do have a longer warranty and a longer life span. I have herd tank-less water heaters are expected to last between 15 and 20 years and have a warranty period of ten years with some brands! Here are some of the most common water heater manufactures. Bradford White, A.O. Smith, Lochinvar, State and Rheem. Here is some common Tank-less Water Heater manufactures. Rhinnia, Rheem, Bosh and Noritz