12 Plumbing Terms you Need to Know as a Homeowner

Knowing all of the parts and pieces that keep your house running can be tough! As a new homeowner, designated family handyman, or seasoned pro, it’s essential to know a few terms to keep your plumbing running smoothly and articulate your issues to plumbers, professionals, or the customer service team at the hardware store. Our glossary covers 15 essential plumbing terms you need to know.

Access Panel
An access panel is an opening in a wall or ceiling near a fixture. The access panel offers access to work on plumbing or electrical systems.

Angle Stop
An angle stop is a shutoff valve between the water supply and plumbing fixture. It is used to shut off water flow while you repair the connected item.

Backwater Valve
A backwater valve prevents disposed sewage from reentering the home.

Ballcock
The ballcock controls the flow of water in a gravity-operated toilet tank. When the toilet is flushed, the circular float will drop and open the ballcock. This results in water being distributed in the tank. As the water rises, the float rises to the level that shuts of the ballcock.

Dip Tube
The dip tube sends cold water to the bottom of the water heater tank.

Escutcheon
The escutcheon is a protective cover under the faucet handle that masks the fixtures hole.

Flow Rate
How much water flows through a plumbing system; measured in either gallons per minute (GPM) or per hour (GPH).

Gray Water
Gray water is any wastewater that comes from common fixtures, but not toilets.

Hose Bib
A hose bib is a common outdoor faucet. It is the small faucet attachment on an outer wall of your home that facilitates your access to water in your backyard, driveway, etc.

Main Line
The main line supplies water from the water company’s meter at street level to the branch pipes around your home.

PRV or Pressure Reducing Valve
PRV (or pressure reducing valve) is a special valve that is installed directly on the main water line. The PRV constrains the amount of water entering from the water companies supply to normalize water pressure for home use.

Septic Tank
A septic tank is a small sewage treatment system for homes with no connection to local sewage pipes. Septic refers to the bacteria that decomposes the waste inside the tank.

Sump Pump
A sump pump is used in basements that flood often. The sump pump sits in a pit that accumulates the water, where it pushes the water outside the home.

Trap
The trap is a curved section of drain line that prevents sewer odor from entering your home. All plumbing fixtures have a “P” trap, except for a toilet that has an “S” trap.

Water Hammer
The water hammer is a loud noise and vibration associated with pipes being turned on or off. The water hammer is caused by a sudden surge, or halt, of water in the pipes.

Thank you for reviewing our plumbing glossary! The next time you reach out to the professionals to fix your ballcock or sump pump, you now have the power to communicate specifics and exactly what you might need. Severson plumbing provides both residential and commercial plumbing service and repair for the entire Central Oregon region including Bend, Redmond, LaPine, Prineville, and Madras. We are here to help with all of your plumbing issues and emergencies. If you are in need of plumbing help, contact our team today, 541-382-3720!