All right class, settle down. This is your professor Dr. PrairieSons speaking, and today we are going to give you a brief overview of your home’s piping system.

Make no mistake: you’ll still need a professional for plumbing repairs after reading this primer. But at least you’ll have a better understanding of how all those pipes come together to create the plumbing system that provides you with fresh water – as well as get rid of not-so-fresh water.


The Two Main Plumbing Systems

A plumbing system can be divided into two subsystems: freshwater, and wastewater.

The freshwater system supplies water to each faucet, shower, bath, clothes washer and dishwasher in the house. Water enters the house via the main supply line, which typically sources it from a well or municipal supply. That water may go through a filtration or softener system before it splits into two lines: one that carries cold water, and another that carries it to the water heater for subsequent distribution throughout the house.

The wastewater system is itself divided into two parts: one that lets wastewater flow away from sinks and other fixtures to a place where you don’t have to worry about it anymore, and another that vents sewer gas through the roof. The latter system is essential to preventing foul, unpleasant odors from accumulating inside the house. It also minimizes occupants’ exposure to toxic gasses that can make them sick.


The Key Components of a Plumbing System

Your home’s plumbing system consists of a complex series of parts. Each serves a vital purpose. When one fails, the entire system can cease to function reliably. Let’s take a quick look at the most important parts and what each does.

  • Water service pipe (aka main line) – Connects plumbing to public or private water supply. Low water pressure, noisy fixtures, discolored water, and multiple clogged drains are all signs of main line issues.
  • Supply line – Extends from service pipe to deliver fresh water to the plumbing system.
  • Waste stack (aka main drain) – Long, vertical pipe that receives wastewater and drains it to the sewer line.
  • Sewer line – Carries wastewater to the septic tank or municipal wastewater system.
  • Drain cleanout – Located outside the home, where it grants access to the sewer line for cleaning purposes.
  • Risers – Carry either cold or hot water to the house’s upper levels.
  • Trap (aka P-trap) – U-shaped pipe below a fixture that captures smelly sewer gas before it enters the house. Must be partially filled with water to maintain its airtight seal. Sinks and toilets commonly have traps, each of which leads to a branch drain line that lets water flow down the main drain line.
  • Fixture drain – Allows wastewater to flow from a fixture to a branch, which in turn carries it to the main drain.
  • Overflow – Any pipe which drains water from a fixture when it reaches a certain level. Despite what its name implies, it prevents overflowing from happening.
  • Floor drain – Allows water to drain from whichever floor it’s installed in. Commonly found in basements, laundry rooms, bathrooms, and other rooms where there is a risk of water damage resulting from overflow.
  • Shutoff valve – Shuts off water supply. In addition to the main shutoff valve which stops water from entering the house, there may be shutoff valves for each individual toilet, sink and washing machine.
  • Clothes washer standpipe – Flexible drain tube which empties into a drain trap, which in turn allows water to exit through the main drain.

Many plumbing issues can be corrected by a DIYer with a few tools. But when something goes wrong with the main line, main drain, sewer line, or another major and hard-to-access plumbing feature, you’re probably going to need professional plumbing solutions. If you live in the greater Sioux Falls area, contact PrairieSons today to set your mind at ease.

And remember: PrairieSons is more than just plumbing. If you need prompt heating repairs, emergency furnace services, or reliable heating solutions in the tri-state area, call today. Our professional winter heating services guarantee the fastest available resolution to a furnace breakdown!