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Glossary of Plumbing Terms

  • Aerator – Fitted to faucets to introduce air into running water, controlling flow and reducing splash.
  • Air chamber – vertical, air-filled pipe or spring coil set above the water line to absorb pressure when water is turned off at the faucet
  • Air gap – air-filled space, which allows contaminated water to discharge freely without coming back into the water supply
  • Air lock – a blockage in liquid flow
  • Apron – the skirting of a bathtub that covers the rough-in area from the floor to the top of the appliance
  • Back wash – the process of cleaning a filter by reversing the flow of water through it – the dirt is sent to the waste disposal
  • Ballcock – the fill valve that controls the flow of water from the water supply line into a gravity-operated toilet tank
  • Conduit – tube that houses electrical wiring
  • Direct vent – a system that pulls outside air for combustion and vents combustion gases directly outside without a chimney
  • Diaphragm – flexible membrane in a valve that deflects down onto a rigid area of the valve body to regulate water flow from the supply lines to eliminate accumulation of debris inside
  • Die – cutting device used to thread pipe
  • Dip tube – tube inside water heater that sends cold water to the bottom of the tank
  • Dynamic pressure – the pressure when the water is flowing
  • ECO – Energy Cut Off – a safety device designed to shut power off to the water heater and prevent high temperature
  • EF – Energy Factor – a measure of the overall efficiency rating of the water heater based on the model’s recovery, efficiency, stand-by loss and energy input
  • Feed pump
  • Flux – paste applied to copper pipes and fittings before soldering to help the fusion process and prevent oxidation
  • Galvanise – the process of applying a coating of zinc to the finished product to provide corrosion protection – the coating can be applied by hot dipping or electrolytic deposition
  • Interceptor – device for separating grease and oil from drainage systems
  • Jacket – usually refers to the heating or cooling outer casing, which surrounds the stuffing box on some pumps
  • Joint – one length of pipe
  • Lean mixture – an air-gas mixture that contains more air than needed for complete combustion of the gas
  • Leader pipe – a pipe that carries rainwater to the ground or sewer
  • Lime – the substance that settles on the bottom of a water tank – also known as sediment
  • M tubing – an industry standard for copper tubing defined by the tube wall thickness and identified by a red stripe
  • O-Ring – round rubber washer used to create a watertight seal
  • U-bend – a section of a waste pipe that is shaped like the letter U, which stops smells coming back into the property


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