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Plumbing Speak: Common Terms Explained

Plumbing-Speak-Common-Terms-Explained.jpgWondering what your plumber is saying when he is talking about the plumbing, sewer or other water related systems in your home? We have simple definitions for a few of the more commonly used home plumbing terms:


ABS is the type of rigid black plastic pipe that is used for vent lines, drain lines and waste lines in your home.

Access Panel

Is the opening in the ceiling or wall near a plumbing fixture where you can access the system for inspection or repair.

Backwater Valve

A valve in the sewer line that prevents the contents of the sewer pipe from flowing back into the house.


The valve in the toilet cistern of gravity toilets that control when and how much the cistern refills.
City Sewer

The network of pipes and other elements that make up the sewage disposal system operated by an urban or semi urban municipality.

Cleanout Plug

A plug in a drainpipe or trap that allows access to drain and clear the line of any obstructions or blockages.

City Sewer

A system of pipes and equipment operated by the city or municipal area that takes sewage away from homes.


A diaphragm is a flexible membrane inside a valve that helps to regulate the flow of liquid and helps to reduce build up.


The decorative metal flange on a faucet that covers the stem and the hole in the sink, tub or wall.  


The slope or pitch of a pipe, designed to ensure that the flow of liquid or waste in the pipe is adequate.  


The parts of the plumbing system in a home that we use: sinks, tubs, toilets etc.

Floor Flange

The fitting that connects the toilet to the sewer pipes.

Gravity Operated Toilet

A type of toilet hat uses gravity to operate the toilet tank and flush the toilet bowl. One of the most common types of toilet.  

Gray Water

Wastewater from dishes, laundry, showers etc. Does not include toilet water. Can be captured and used to water gardens etc.

Instantaneous Water Heater

A water heater that uses a heat exchanger coil to instantly heat water as it flows through the device. Common brand name includes Insta Hot.

PRV or Pressure Reducing Valve

Valve that constricts water flow from mains to reduce overall water pressure from a municipal supply line.


Polyvinyl chloride. The most common type of rigid plastic pipe and fittings used in modern plumbing systems.

Septic Tank

A large tank, often underground, that stores waste generated by homes that are not connected to a sewer system.

Sump Pump

The type of pump installed to ensure that basements are free of flooding and ‘backing up.’


S or P shaped bend in a pipe that helps to prevent sewer odor from coming back into a home.


Pipe that allows air into drains to balance air pressure.

Water Hammer

The sound created when water pipes are not properly secured, and then vibrates when water passes through them, knocking on beams etc.

That should cover some of the more common items you will find in your home and your bathroom.