What Is Plumbing?

Plumbing is the system of pipes and fixtures that conveys water for various uses. Platinum Plumbing delivers potable water, removes waste, and heats and cools a building.

Proper plumbing infrastructure is essential for public health and sanitation. It ensures a safe and clean water supply and provides odor-free wastewater disposal.


Many pipes make up a plumbing system from the water supply to the drain waste. Depending on their function and location, these pipes can be made from different materials. The galvanized iron and steel pipes that were once a staple in residential homes are giving way to more modern solutions, such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and cross-linked polyethylene (PEX).

One of the oldest types of pipe used in plumbing is copper. It has been a favorite among plumbers because of its strength and durability, which can last upward of 50 years. Copper is also corrosion-resistant, making it ideal for plumbing applications that require constant flow of water.

Another type of plumbing pipe is plastic tubing. Known by the abbreviated name of PEX, this type of tubing is popular for plumbing systems because of its versatility and affordability. It can be cut to length and is flexible enough to weave through walls, ceilings, basements, and more. This piping is also resistant to blockages, which makes it a great option for sinks and toilet drain lines.

Pipes are also available in a variety of diameters to accommodate different plumbing applications. They can also be welded or joined together with joints. Pipes used for pressure applications are often accompanied by support braces and struts to prevent sagging, stressing, and unwanted noise or vibration. Some pipes are also insulated to keep the temperature of the water warm or cold as needed.

Plumbing pipes can be color-coded for specialized situations and applications. These codes are set by the ANSI and include flammable (yellow with black lettering), compressed air (blue with white lettering), and others.

While plumbing pipes are an important part of a home or business, they can pose safety risks without regular maintenance. It’s important to hire a certified plumber to ensure all pipes are properly installed and maintained to protect against leaks, blockages, and other issues. Additionally, plumbing repairs and installations must adhere to the building codes specified by individual provinces or territories. These codes are designed to promote safe and efficient plumbing practices and minimize environmental impacts.

A plumbing fixture is any device that is part of a residential or commercial building’s water supply, waste disposal or drainage system. Its function is to provide water for everyday uses, such as drinking, cooking and cleaning. Common fixtures include toilets, sinks, showerheads and bathtubs. Other types of plumbing fixtures include water heaters, urinals and bidets. Most plumbing fixtures are made of durable materials that resist corrosion, erosion and rusting, such as porcelain, copper, brass and stainless steel. They are designed for long, uninterrupted use and exposed to water on a daily basis, so they need to be durable to endure constant exposure.

These devices are typically manufactured to specific dimensions and can be installed in a variety of configurations. For example, toilets can be set up in a number of ways, including in floor, wall and pedestal installations. Sinks are available in single and double basin styles and can be installed as countertop, drop-in or undermount installations. Bathtubs and showers are also manufactured in a variety of sizes and styles to suit different spaces, with some having built-in or separate faucets. In addition, many manufacturers offer a wide variety of faucets for bathroom and kitchen fixtures that can be used with either hot or cold water.

Each fixture has a drain, which is connected to the sewer or septic system, and a water outlet, which is connected to the main plumbing pipe line. The water outlets of most fixtures are regulated by a flow control valve. The valves are often referred to as “stop” or “service” valves and allow the user to shut off the water supply to the fixture. In most cases, the fixture also has a “flood rim” level that indicates when the drain is full and will overflow.

In choosing plumbing fixtures, it’s important to consider both the functional requirements of the space and the aesthetic preferences of the homeowner or business owner. It’s also a good idea to review the manufacturer warranty and support for each fixture before making any purchases. The selection of fixtures can be overwhelming, but a knowledgeable plumber can assist with the process and recommend quality products that meet the project’s needs.

The sewer is a system of pipes that takes waste water from homes and businesses to local sewage treatment plants. These systems are operated and maintained by cities and towns. Sewage comes from toilets, sinks, showers and other plumbing fixtures that are connected to a home or business’s drain lines. The wastewater and sewage then travel through the pipes to a sewage treatment plant where it is cleaned before being sent back into the environment.

The vast majority of the time, a home’s sewer system is working well. However, issues can arise that require the help of a professional plumber. A common problem is a recurring line stoppage. A reoccurring sewer stoppage may be the result of a tree root, broken pipe or other issue that requires a professional plumbing company to investigate and repair.

A reoccurring sewer stoppage can also be caused by a clog that is too large to clear with traditional rodding techniques. The best way to prevent a clog or blockage is to keep foreign items out of the drain lines. Items that should never be flushed include: feminine sanitary products; paper towels; diapers; dental floss; Q-Tips; handi-wipes; or oil, grease and solid fats.

When these items are flushed down the drain, they clog the sewage lines and can cause a variety of problems including foul odors, basement flooding, sewage backups and pollution of the environment. The good news is that most of these issues can be prevented with regular maintenance and a proper plumbing system design.

While a home’s sewer system can be damaged by items that are flushed down the drain, a public sewer system is often more at risk for issues due to the volume of waste that it must handle on a daily basis. In addition, the older the sewer system is, the more likely it is to experience issues that can be costly to repair and even dangerous for public health.

The most important thing homeowners can do to protect their home’s plumbing system and the public sewer system is to have a comprehensive sewer protection plan from HomeServe. A HomeServe plan covers the cost of emergency services and helps to reduce the stress and worry of dealing with a sewer or septic issue.

Drains are designed to move unwanted water or waste liquids from the system. Usually this is done through the use of gravity and funnelling into a receptacle or sewer system. Occasionally, they are surgically placed into patients (Jackson-Pratt drains and thoracostomy tubes) to help evacuate fluid or gas from wounds or abscesses. Like pipes, drains can clog; however, these kinds of clogs are typically localized and easy for a plumber to address.

Most of the drains in our homes are found in kitchen sinks, bathtubs and showers, lavatories and toilets. The main drain line for the house is angled downward, making it dependent on gravity to move wastewater out of the home to the municipal sewer line or septic tank.

When a drain is working as it should, water will flow freely into the j-bend at the fixture and then down into the pipe. The p-trap, or U-bend, at the end of the drain traps standing water and prevents sewage gases from venting out of the house. In the event that food particles or hair strands get into the drainage system and build up over time, a clog can occur. This is generally not a big deal, but is definitely something to keep in mind if you’re concerned about your plumbing’s integrity.

If a drain doesn’t work as it should, it can create dangerous and unhealthy conditions. In this case, it’s important that nursing staff follow any written instructions provided by the physician and regularly empty the drain while observing the insertion site for drainage and signs of infection. A Jackson-Pratt drain will require emptying 2-3 times per day and a thoracostomy tube should be emptied every 6-8 hours.

When it comes to home plumbing, most of us don’t think about our drain lines until they aren’t working properly. But, if you know a little bit about how your home’s drainage system works, you can be prepared for potential problems and call a professional plumber when needed. If you notice that a toilet isn’t flushing as well as it should, or gurgling sounds are coming from your sinks or tubs, these are clear indications that there is a problem with your drain line or main sewer line.