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How Do Plumbing Systems Work?

The entire plumbing system can be divided into two separate systems: a portable water distribution system (your water supply) and a waste water drainage system.

Water Supply

The water supply subsystem in your home plumbing brings in fresh water using a combination of pipes, shutoff valves, water temperature controls (like water heaters), and water purity devices. The water that enters your plumbing system passes from part to part through pressure in the pipes and valves.

After the water is in the system, it’s distributed by a combination of internal parts. Your system’s pipes carry water to and from various appliances (like sinks, showers, faucets, and washing machines) around your home, and certain pipes are designed to handle the hot water, which is heated by a water heater or boiler.

At any point, you can cut off the water supply by activating an emergency shutoff valve that’s either linked to the individual parts of your plumbing or to the entire system itself.

Drainage System

Your drainage subsystem operates independently from your supply system — it doesn’t rely on pressure to supply or remove water. Instead, drainage pipes are positioned at a downward angle, using gravity to do most of the work to help wastewater escape.

Between gravity and a combination of vents and traps that deliver air to your drainage system, wastewater is carried from your home to a sewer or septic tank, and the water that flows from your faucets is safe and clean for use.

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