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Common Plumbing Terms That Can Help You

An Introduction to Common Plumbing Terms

You do not have to be an avid DIY-er to understand the importance of learning common plumbing terms. No matter how diligent you are in keeping your home’s plumbing system well-maintained, there will come a time when you will need to call upon your plumber for help. Awareness of the most used plumbing terms will help you better understand what your plumber is doing and enable you to communicate with him more effectively.

What are these terms that homeowners should add to their vocabularies?


Aeration is a process wherein water is mixed with air through the use of a piece of equipment known as an aerator. The goal of aeration is to release dissolved gasses and eliminate foul odors.

Air gap

The term refers to the space between a water outlet that delivers water to a plumbing fixture and the flood rim level of a receptacle like a sink or dishwasher. The primary purpose of an air gap is to prevent the cross-contamination of potable water.


When the water flow is reversed in the plumbing system, this can create backflow. Sometimes backflow can lead to the contamination of drinking water.

Branch drain

Refers to the part of the plumbing system which leads to the main drainage line.

Check valve

This is a type of valve that ensures that the water flows toward one direction and prevents it from backflowing.


A cleanout is the space in a drainage line that is placed there in order to facilitate the entry of drain cleaning equipment. The drain cleaning equipment is used for clearing out drains and eliminating line blockages.

Closet auger

A closet auger is a tool which has a flexible rod with a curved end. This is used to remove clogs in toilets and obstructions in the built-in trap.


Hydro-jetting refers to the process of using blasts of high-pressure water to clear blockages accumulated on sewage lines.

Plumber’s putty

Plumber’s putty is used by plumbers on areas which are exposed to unpressurized water. These include joints and fixture bases. It has the consistency of clay.

Shutoff valve

The shutoff valve is used to stop the flow of water toward a sink or toilet. Typically, you will find this underneath the toilet or sink.

If you are not sure what a particular term exactly means, do not hesitate to ask your Fox Cities plumber for an explanation.

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