Understanding Common Plumbing Terms: Explaining jargon and terminology used in the plumbing industry for homeowners to understand.

Ever felt lost in the labyrinth of plumbing lingo? We're here to simplify it for you. Say goodbye to baffling plumber conversations, DIY project dread, and leaky faucet fears. With our expert help, you'll become a plumbing pro quickly.

Whether it's tackling issues, upgrading fixtures, or just being more self-sufficient, understanding these standard plumbing terms is your ticket to success. We will try to turn you from a novice into a confident homeowner ready to master your plumbing.

Common Plumbing Terms You Should Know As A Homeowner

Let us know these common plumbing terms to maintain a well-functioning home plumbing system.

  • Access Panel

An access panel is a concealed opening in a wall or ceiling that provides access to plumbing or electrical components. 

  • Angle Stop

An angle stop, also known as a shut-off valve, is a crucial component in your plumbing system. It's a valve that controls water flow to specific fixtures, like toilets or sinks. 

  • Anode Rod

A sacrificial metal rod called an anode is commonly found in water heaters. Its main objective is to keep the tank free from corrosion.

  • Brass

Brass is a popular plumbing material known for its corrosion resistance and durability. It is often used to make fixtures, valves, and connectors due to its reliability and aesthetic appeal.

  • Branch Drain

A branch drain is a plumbing system component that connects individual fixtures (such as sinks, toilets, or showers) to the main drain line. 

  • Backwater Valve

A backwater valve is a critical component for protecting your home from sewage backflow during heavy rains or blockages in the municipal sewer system. This valve automatically closes to prevent sewage from entering your home, thus avoiding costly and unsanitary damage.

  • Ballcock

A ballcock, which controls the refilling process after each flush and the water level in the tank, is an essential part of a toilet's tank.

  • Branch Vent

A branch vent is a pipe ventilating one or more fixtures on a horizontal drain branch. Proper venting is crucial for preventing siphoning.

  • Check Valve

A check valve, sometimes called a non-return valve, only permits one direction of fluid flow. These valves are essential for preventing backflow in various plumbing systems and ensuring water or sewage flows in the intended direction.

  • Closet Auger

A closet auger is a specialized tool used to clear clogs in toilets. It features a flexible cable with a curved, protective sleeve that allows homeowners to navigate and remove obstructions within the toilet's trap.

  • Closet Bend

A closet bend is a curved plumbing fitting that connects a toilet to the drainpipe. It ensures proper alignment and efficient waste removal from the toilet bowl to the drainage system.

  • Diaphragm

A diaphragm is a sealing mechanism used in various valves, including faucets and toilet tank fill valves. 

  • Dip Tube

A dip tube is a component in a water heater that directs cold water to the bottom of the tank. It ensures that hot water is drawn from the top.

  • Drip Leg

A drip leg is a short section of piping with a capped end placed at a low point in a gas line. It serves to collect and remove any moisture or sediment that may be present in the gas.

  • Escutcheon

An escutcheon is a decorative and protective plate that conceals plumbing fixtures and pipe openings in walls or ceilings.

  • Fall/Flow

The terms "fall" and "flow" are essential in plumbing, referring to the slope or incline of pipes. 

  • Fitting

Fittings are connectors used to join various plumbing components like pipes, valves, and fixtures. 

  • Fixture

A fixture is any device connected to the plumbing system that uses water, such as sinks, toilets, and showers.

  • Flapper Valve

A flapper valve is a component found in toilet tanks that controls the release of water into the toilet bowl during flushing. 

  • Float Ball

A float ball is often found in older toilet tanks. It is attached to the ballcock and adjusts the water level inside the tank. 

  • Floor Flange

The plumbing part that attaches the toilet to the floor and joins it to the drainpipe is called a floor flange.

  • Gas Cock

A gas cock, or gas valve, is a crucial component for controlling the flow of natural gas to appliances like stoves, water heaters, and furnaces. 

  • Gate Valve

In water delivery systems, gate valves are often utilized as shut-off valves. Gate valves, as opposed to ball valves, feature a gate-like mechanism that can either completely open or close the flow.

  • Gray Water

Gray water refers to wastewater from non-toilet plumbing fixtures, such as sinks, showers, and washing machines. 

  • Horizontal Branch

A horizontal branch is a section of plumbing that extends horizontally from the main drain, connecting various fixtures. 

  • Horizontal Run

A horizontal run is a straight section of plumbing pipe that runs horizontally, connecting fixtures or venting systems. It plays a critical role in transporting wastewater away from your home.

  • Hose Bib

A hose bib, or outdoor faucet, is an external water source for tasks like watering the garden or washing the car. 

  • Main Line

The main line is the primary water supply line that delivers water to your home from the municipal source. 

  • Plumbing Nipple

A plumbing nipple is a short length of pipe with threads on both ends, often used to connect various fixtures, valves, or fittings in your plumbing system.

  • Power Flush System

A power flush system is a mechanism commonly found in modern toilets. It uses pressurized water to remove waste efficiently, reducing the risk of clogs and ensuring a cleaner flush.

  • PRV or Pressure Reducing Valve

A pressure-reducing valve (PRV) regulates the water pressure in your home. Maintaining the correct pressure is crucial to prevent damage to fixtures and pipes.

  • PVC

PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is a versatile plastic pipe material used extensively in plumbing. 

  • Rim Holes

Rim holes in a toilet are openings around the inner rim of the bowl that allow water to flow into the bowl when flushing. 

  • Saddle Valve

A saddle valve is a small, self-tapping valve used to access water from existing plumbing lines, often for installing water filtration systems or ice makers.

  • Temperature and Pressure Valve (T&P Valve)

One popular safety feature on water heaters is a T&P valve. It lets go of excess heat or pressure to avoid hazardous scenarios, including tank ruptures.

  • Trapway

The trapway is the curved, S-shaped pipe beneath toilets and some fixtures.


As a responsible homeowner, familiarizing yourself with these common plumbing terms can go a long way in maintaining your home's plumbing system and making informed decisions. Whether you're tackling a DIY plumbing project or discussing issues with a professional plumber, knowing these terms will help you navigate the world of home plumbing more effectively.