Buying a home is an exciting time, but it can also be a time filled with worry and stress. For most first-time homeowners, understanding how each system in the home operates is one of the most stressful parts of home ownership. Thankfully, learning about your plumbing does not have to be overwhelming. Here are a few key plumbing terms all first-time homeowners should know and understand.
1. Shutoff Valves
Leaks happen, so there may be a time when you need to turn off all water to your home or to a specific fixture in your home. This is where the location of your shutoff valves come in to play.
New homeowners should know what and where their shutoff valves are located throughout the home.
The main valve the stops water from flowing into any area of your home will most likely be on the interior perimeter of the house in some location. In most cases, it will be found in the interior of the home on the side facing the street. Check inside the utility room, kitchen pantry, or a closet in one of these areas.
If you are not able to find the main shutoff valve, consult your property inspection report. The inspector most likely documented the location on the report. You can also consult a plumber to help you locate the main valve. It is also helpful to locate the shutoff valves for each plumbing fixture. Valves are located under each sink and behind each toilet. A valve will be located behind each appliance, as well.
For example, shutting off the water to your washing machine will require moving the appliance and locating the valve behind it. To turn water off to the dishwasher, the valve will most likely be under the sink or under the actual dishwasher, which may require removing the bottom panel.
There is also a trap located under each tub and sink drain. This trap may be in the shape of a "P" or an "S." The main purpose of the trap is to collect water from the sink, tub, or shower drain, reducing the risk of the dirty water flowing into clean water.
Unfortunately, water is not the only thing that flows through these drains, so the traps help trap in dirt, debris, and other waste. If the drains to your sink, tub, or shower are clogged, you may need to clean out the trap to ensure water can flow freely through. Disconnecting the sections of the trap will allow you to remove dirt, food residue, and even hair from the trap without a great deal of effort.