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Plumbing Terms Glossary

Get to know your plumbing system! Take a look at these plumbing terms and definitions—you might find yourself talking shop the next time a Peninsula plumber pays you a service call!

Faucet Terms

  • Aerator: Those tiny screens inside the end of your faucet. The aerator keeps the water flowing in one direction and usually also works to keep the water flow at 2.5 gallons per minute.
  • Backflow Preventer: A mechanism that keeps wastewater from flowing into your potable water supply. They are used in things like hand-held showers, pull-out faucet sprays, and sprinkler systems. 
  • Hose Bibb: An outdoor faucet; also used to supply water to washing machines. 

Toilet Terms

  • Ballcock: A valve operated by a float, like that floating ball in your toilet tank. 
  • Flapper Valve: The rubber piece at the bottom of the toilet tank that opens to allow water to flow from the tank into the bowl. 
  • Float Ball: In the toilet tank, the hollow ball attached to a rod that rises as the tank refills and shuts the water inlet valve.

Drain and Pipe Terms

  • ABS: Acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene is a hard black plastic used for drain and vent lines. 
  • Branch: Any part of the drain system other than the main, riser, or stack.
  • Drain:  A pipe that carries wastewater or water-borne waste out of your home. 
  • DWV: Drainage, waste, and vent. 
  • Main: The primary artery of the supply or drain system to which all the branches connect.
  • Manifold: A fitting that connects a number of branches to the main; serves as a distribution point. 
  • PEX: Cross-linked polyethylene. PEX tubing, commonly used for hydronic radiant floor heat, is increasingly used for water supply lines. 
  • Pressure-balancing Valve: A mixing valve that monitors the water pressure in both the hot and cold supply lines and compensates for a drop in either one. 
  • PVC: Polyvinyl chloride. Used for drain and vent lines. 
  • Relief Valve or T&P Valve: A valve that releases excess temperature and/or pressure in the system. 
  • Riser: A supply line pipe that rises from one story to the next or the short, vertical pipes that bring water from the branch to the fixture. 
  • Shutoff Valve or Stop: Most commonly refers to the angle stops installed under sinks and toilets, but valves are also installed on branch lines and alongside the meter. 
  • Sweep: The change of direction in a drain fitting that lets waste pass smoothly through.
  • Tailpiece: The section of pipe that runs between a fixture outlet and the trap. 
  • Valve: A device that regulates the flow of water. 
  • Vent: A pipe that allows air into a drain system to balance the air pressure, preventing the water in the traps from being siphoned off. 
  • Wye Fitting: A drain fitting that allows one pipe to be joined to another at a 45-degree angle. 

Need plumbing service in Delmarva? Call Peninsula at 302-262-8253.