Plumbing terms

17 Plumbing Terms Every Homeowner Must Know

Big B's Plumbing - Your Plumber for Life!

Every homeowner should know a few basic plumbing terms. You don’t have to be an expert but familiarizing with the lingo will make it easier for you to speak with a plumber when describing your problems. It could even empower you to make some minor repairs yourself. Like you’ll later find out, a little knowledge goes a long way, especially during plumbing emergencies. With that in mind, grasp the following plumbing terms.

Gray Water

It refers to water that drains from bathtubs, sinks, and showers. Blackwater flows from the toilet to the sewer. Gray water does not contain dangerous contaminants. Plumbers also refer to water from appliances like the washing machine as gray water.

Flapper Valve

It is the rubber plug located at the bottom of the toilet tank. Once open, it allows water from the tank to fill up the ball as you flush.


Dripping Fixtures

You’ll most likely come across the term in a quote. The term is another name for leaky faucets. Note that the term ‘fixture’ always features in nearly all plumbing projects. It refers to a plumbing device that either provides or disposes of water. Standard plumbing fixtures include sinks, showers, faucets, and toilets.

Shutoff Valve

They are valves under the sink and under the toilet. They shut off the water during repairs or failures.

The Sewer Main

It is the primary channel of the supply system and the drain. All other plumbing pipes are connected to the sewer main.

Plumbing Snake

It is a long, flexible tool used to clear drain clogs. Basic plumbing snakes are usually sold at home improvement stores. Professional plumbing snakes are studier, longer, and are typically used for complex plumbing jobs.

plumbers snake


It is the p-shaped part of the drain located under the sink. It holds water inside the pipe, forming a sizable barrier that prevents sewer fumes and gases from venting into living areas. The trap gets clogged every once in a while, which is why you occasionally need a plumber.

Flow Control Valve

It is a valve designed to reduce water flow into a fixture, but It doesn’t just cut down water use and bills. It also improves efficiency.

The Access Panel

It is an opening near a plumbing fixture, usually in a wall or ceiling. It offers access to plumbing systems

The Trapway

It connects the toilet bowl to a waste outlet. The size of the trapway, which is also referred to as the passageway, influences clogging.

Water Hammer

It is a loud noise or strong vibration that occurs when pipes are either turned on or off. The noise or vibration is usually caused by a sudden surge or halt of water inside the pipes.

Rim Holes

There are a series of holes around the toilet boil. Water flows from the rim holes over the bowl surface to refill the toilet bowl.

Saddle Valve

It is a mounted pipe run by a sturdy clamping device. It is used to make quick, sometimes temporary connections between low-demand devices.

Horizontal Branch

Horizontal Branch is a pipe that extends laterally from a soil or waste stack or a building drain. It receives the discharge from fixtures and drains and conducts the discharge to the waste stack, the building drain or soil. Not to be confused with the Horizontal Run, which refers to the distance wastewater travels from the entry point to the exit point of a drain or pipe.

Anode Rod<

It is found inside the water heater. It protects the water tank from aluminum or magnesium corrosion.


It controls water flow in gravity-operated toilet tanks. When you flush the toilet, the float drops and opens the ballcock. This will force even water distribution inside the tank. As the water level rises, the float also increases to match the water level and shuts the ballcock.

The Float Ball

You’ve most likely seen it, only you don’t know its name. It is the plastic ball attached to the ballcock. The float ball’s placement usually controls the water level inside the tank. Without it, your bathroom would flood.

Always remember…..

You don’t have to be a professional plumber to know what basic plumbing terms mean. Like already mentioned, you only need to know the basics. That way, you’ll have an easy time holding a conversation with your plumber.

Remember too, to be proactive about maintaining your home’s plumbing system. This is as simple as regularly inspecting your plumbing system. Do this at least once every month. If you see anything out of line in your plumbing system, call Big B’s Plumbing today!

Brandon and Family, Licensed plumbing contractor

Family Owned & Operated

My name is Brandon Mageno. I'm the founder, President, and CEO of Big B's Plumbing Company. As the founder, I never thought about being average or good. My passion for being the best plumbing company in Southern California has always been the same. Providing plumbing services to this great county is simply in my DNA. Nothing makes me happier than to see a satisfied customer. Learn More About Us

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Randy was very knowledgeable and professional. He helped us figure out what we could do with the space given for our bathroom with our remodel. He picked out perfect fixtures and the work he did was beautiful. The cleaned up properly when they were done and everything was handled in one day! I will be calling for Randy anytime we have any plumbing needs. Thank you for doing such a great job!
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