plumbing terms

Plumbing Terms Made Easy

Plumbing Terms Made Easy

The world of plumbing is so easily taken for granted. We use water in so many different ways throughout our day that it’s almost impossible not to. Then when one part of your system breaks down and a plumber shows up it’s like they’re seemingly speaking a different language. You feel lost and alone. It’s like you’re on foreign soil and you don’t understand a word this guy just said. Well, we here at Mitch Clemmons Plumbing wanted to put together a glossary of common plumbing terms and words to make you feel less like an alien when it comes to your waterworks. Call if you have any other questions for our plumbing pros!  (562) 242-3218

Actuator: Button used to start the flushing process. It’s usually on the left side or top-center of the tank. If you have a new toilet installation there will most definitely be an actuator involved!

Auger: A drilling device or drill bit. In plumbing the “plumber’s snake” or “toilet jack” is a flexible auger used to bore through blockages helping to dislodge clogs. 

Balancing Valve: A valve in water heaters that controls flow and balances the distribution of heat as water flows to each faucet.

Copper: Copper tubing or piping is the most commonly used to of line to deliver hot and cold tap water and also for refrigerant in HVAC units. Typically the tubing has a label of either soft or rigid. Rigid is the most common choice for water line and “soft” is common for moving water around impediments and obstructions.

Corrosion: The deterioration of a metal as a result of chemical reactions. Galvanic corrosion occurs when zinc erodes and the water attacks the underlying metal. The corroding zinc will ultimately cause lead build-up.

Galvanized: To layer or coat metal, iron or steel, formerly with tin but more commonly with zinc. Most older homes with galvanized plumbing are typically steel pipes with a protective layer of zinc.

Hard water:  Water that has high mineral content (in contrast with “soft water”), often the result of the water percolating through deposits of limestone and chalk resulting in liquids largely made up of calcium and magnesium carbonates. Hard water can even affect toilets with a build up. Take care of hard water with a soft water system today!

More Plumbing Terms:

Hydro jetting: Pressurized water ranging from 5,000psi to 50,000psi,  delivered through a hose and nozzle. The tank containing hot or cold water can be gas, electric, or a diesel-powered engine.

OEM: Original Equipment Manufacturer.

OHM: Unit of electrical resistance.

one piece toilet
Interested in a modern one-piece toilet? Let the pros at Mitch Clemmons provide an expert toilet installation for you today!

One-piece Toilet: A toilet, usually with a lower profile, in which both the tank and bowl are together as single fixture. These are beautiful, sleek and easy to clean. Call Mitch today for your new toilet installation.

Oxidation: Any chemical reaction in which an element gives up an electron when it comes in contact with oxygen.

PEX: a medium- to high-density polyethylene containing cross-link bonds introduced into the polymer structure. PEX tubing has great freeze-resistant properties and its high-temperature properties  (250–300°) remain stable by reducing “creep”, the tendency to flow. Chemical resistance through resisting dissolution in enhances it’s integrity. PEX is the material of choice in some potable-water plumbing systems because tubes made of the material can expand to fit over a metal nipple and it will slowly return to its original shape, forming a permanent, water-tight connection.

Pilot: Small flame used to ignite the main burner of a gas water heater.

Reverse Osmosis: a method of extracting essentially pure, fresh water from polluted or salt water by forcing the water under pressure against a semipermeable membrane, which passes the pure water molecules and filters out salts and other dissolved impurities. Interested in clean drinking water? Check out our RO information.

Rooter: Derived from the removing of “roots” from drains and pipes. The machine is commonly called a “roto-rooter”. If you need your drains cleaned check this page.

Scale: An oxide, especially an iron oxide, occurring in a “scaly” form on the surface of metal brought to a high temperature.

Soft Water: In nature, this is the rain water made pure by rocks or through flowing rivers running over stony surfaces. In a home, this is possible with a system that removes the calcium, magnesium, and other metals that would over time cause limescale and build-up in pipes. A soft water system enhances the value of your home, saves pipes, and hot water heaters. Click here to learn more about getting soft water in your home.

Tankless Water Heater: Also known as instant or demand-type heater, these devices do not store water but provide water as needed. Water travels from the tap through the unit and is heated in the pipes either electrically or by gas. 

Venting: Usually associated with air conditioning but with plumbing, true vents, wet vents, revents, loop vents, or common vents, help to protect your drain, release dangerous gases, and increase flow. 
Water Softening: The removal of minerals and metal from water to avoid build-up or damage caused by those elements mixed with various soaps and various types of pipes.

Hopefully this list of plumbing terms was helpful in making some strange words seem not so strange. We’ll be periodically adding more words and terms to this list. As technology, building codes, and materials change we’ll do our best to keep you informed. And in the event you need one of our services, when we arrive at least we know, we’ll be speaking the same language.  (562) 242-3218

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