Water that is allowed into a home has to have a way to leave after being used. Plumbing, the mechanism by which this happens, is an essential basic of home construction. A proper plumbing system when in place, will ensure that the flow of water is seamless, with maximum usage, minimum waste and absence of leaks.

Basics of Plumbing

We often think that plumbing requires lots of pipes, lines and connections, and is therefore complicated. On the contrary, there are only two systems in place;

  1. A potable water supply that provides your home with its fresh water needs.
  2. A drainage system that removes waste water from the home.

Plumbing and drainage systems in homes never intersect and run on common basic principles –

  • A main inlet system with water delivered by local municipality, borewells or a water harvesting unit. This water flows through various fixtures to different rooms for different purposes.
  • Used and waste water then gets collected into drains at various points across the home. They flow through small lines, get into larger ones and are then re-directed to a sewer system, water treatment plant or drain gutters.

Plumbing Equipment


Potable Water freshly supplied is hooked up to appliances such as Toilets, Kitchen and Bathroom Sinks, Washing Machine, Outdoor Faucets and Bathroom Taps.

The components of this system include;

  • PIPES – Underground hidden connections supply fresh water to the home. Water supplied by the main municipality pipeline connects to a shutoff valve which is directly connected to individual homes and stored in tanks. Water is then led through another series of pipes throughout the home, snaking behind walls, under floors and conveyed to faucets.
  • SHUTOFF VALVES – The main potable water supply is monitored through shut-off valves. Smaller valves control water flow in faucets like sink and bathroom taps. These valves can be shut when maintenance or repairs are carried out in case of water seepage or leakage. Every area of a plumbing network has its own shut off valve which can be used to stop water flow completely.
  • WATER METER – Before the home gets its fresh water supply, pipes pass through a water meter outside the home. This determines monthly usage and costs if water is received from the municipality.
  • FAUCETS – Knobs and faucets control water flow. Hot and cold knobs in sinks and bathrooms pass water through two different pipes.


Also called the second plumbing system, drains collect waste, used water and remove it from the house, taking it to either to a sewage or a water treatment plant. The used water is pushed through outgoing pipes that connect to public drainage systems.

The components of this system include;

  • DRAIN PIPES – Any plumbing fixture in the home, also features drains with drainage pipes. These pipes have a downward angle, enhancing water flow. Waste water is carried out through these pipes, and then passed through the inter-connected underground sewer line. These pipes lead to a water treatment plant or a public septic system.
  • DRAIN TAPS – Traps are installed in drains to prevent a backflow. This U-shaped pipe sits just below a drain, connecting other drainage pipes. Also called a ‘P’ trap, the pipe holds water and prevents foul gases from seeping back into the home.
  • DRAIN VENT – The drainage system carries liquid and semi-solid waste that has to maintain proper movement. Drain vents are fitted into roofs of homes and release air into drain pipes. This vent must be clear of debris to prevent blockage and backflow.

Understanding how plumbing works in your home will help you locate the exact leaking or seepage points in case of any malfunction, breaking or damage. It will also ensure that water flows in and out of the house constantly, or issue can be identified and repaired quickly when adequate and timely maintenance is undertaken.

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