What Is Plumbing?

Plumbing is the network of pipes, fixtures and fittings that transports water and waste in residential and commercial buildings. It plays a critical role in providing clean and odor-free sanitation.

While it may seem complicated and mysterious, plumbing is based on simple principles like gravity and pressure. Understanding these basics can help you make sense of your home’s plumbing and fix problems quickly and efficiently. For more information, click the Holmes Plumbing and Drain to proceed.


Pipes carry water, waste or other fluids throughout a plumbing system. They can be found in many different sizes and materials, each serving a specific purpose. For example, copper pipes are long-standing staples in new and old homes alike because of their corrosion resistance and ability to protect the quality of household water. Other popular choices include PVC, PEX and CPVC pipes, as well as galvanized steel and cast iron pipes. These pipes are all designed to handle various levels of pressure and temperature, and each one has its own advantages and disadvantages.

The type of pipe you choose should also be driven by its application. For instance, pipes used for drainage and potable water transport should be rated to meet certain standards that dictate things like size, thickness and material composition. These standards are established by regulatory agencies to ensure that your pipes can safely handle the pressure and temperature of the fluid they’re carrying.

While piping design is an entire engineering field unto itself, the most common pipes in residential construction are made of copper, galvanized steel, PVC, CPVC and ABS. In addition to these traditional options, you may also be able to find specialty pipes for certain applications such as lead-free piping or natural gas pipes.

It’s also important to note the difference between pipe and tubing. While the nomenclature can sometimes be confusing, the basic difference is that pipe is a rigid product identified by its nominal diameter and wall thickness while tubing is generally referred to as flexible products offered in long-length coils. Also, while pipe is typically offered in standard hard lengths, tubing is usually sold in long-length coils as well.


Pipe fittings are used to change direction, redirect pipe flow and connect different components. They are made of a variety of materials including copper, plastic and brass. They are available in many shapes and sizes and are typically threaded for ease of use. They are also designed to be durable and easy to repair. There are a variety of types of pipe fittings including elbows, tees, crosses, eccentric reducer, unions, couplings and nipples.

The body of a pipe fitting is usually the same material as the pipe or tubing it connects to, but there are exceptions. Different kinds of fittings are used for various purposes, and their design is influenced by factors like water pressure, temperature and the materials to which they will be exposed. Some plumbing codes restrict the kind of fitting that can be used with a specific type of pipe.

There are many kinds of pipe fittings, but some of the most common include elbows (which can be curved or straight), tees, crosses and reducers. Reducers are commonly used to connect pipes of different diameters, while tees and crosses connect two or more pipes in parallel or perpendicular fashions. Elbows come in a wide range of angles, from 22-1/2deg to 90deg. Nipples, which are shaped like a T but with one inlet and two outlets, have the same function as tees but offer less chance of backflow.

Another important kind of pipe fitting is the bushing, which is used to adapt a plumbing system from a metal or plastic pipe to another material. Other types of pipe fittings include adapters, couplings and caps. Adapters are used to convert female pipe ends into male threads, and couplings join two pipes together without turning them. Caps, which appear to be small nuts, perform the same function as plugs but fit over the end of a pipe rather than inside it.


Valves are one of the most important parts of a plumbing system. These hydraulic devices help to control the flow of water and regulate pressure. They are a vital component of both household and industrial plumbing systems. This is because they can modify the flow of water or shut it off in the event of an emergency.

Unlike pipes, valves do not have a constant diameter, and they are often made of specialized metals that can withstand high temperatures and pressure. These include bronze and stainless steel. They are also designed with a wide range of functions. This is why choosing the right type of valve is crucial for plumbing systems. In order to find the correct one, it is best to do some research and ask for advice from experts.

The most common types of valves include gate, ball, and butterfly valves. They all have ports that allow fluid to pass through them and a disk that enables or obstructs the flow. These valves can be connected to other pipes using a variety of methods, including threading, compression fittings, glue, cement, or flanges. They can also be welded to other components.

When it comes to selecting a valve, it is important to consider its yield strength and corrosion resistance. These factors are particularly important for valves that are exposed to corrosive substances. The yield strength of a valve determines how much pressure it can withstand before failing. The corrosion resistance of a valve, on the other hand, refers to how well it can resist changes in temperature and pressure.

Additionally, it is important to consider the size of a valve when choosing it for a specific application. This is because larger valves are typically stronger and more durable than smaller ones. Moreover, they can also be installed more easily in large spaces.


Plumbing fixtures are used to convey water, dispense waste, and control the flow of air in residential, commercial and industrial settings. Common types of fixtures include sinks, bathtubs, toilets and showers. Fixtures are designed for long-term, durable use and are typically made from materials that resist rust and erosion, such as porcelain, fiberglass, tile, marble and stainless steel.

The plumbing fixture industry has been growing, largely due to increased demand for water efficiency and health concerns. These factors have led to significant investment in new technologies, which are being incorporated into existing and new plumbing fixtures. As a result, the market is expected to grow rapidly over the next few years.

Most plumbing fixtures have a water supply line that connects to a faucet, and a drain pipe that carries away the waste. Most have a shut-off valve that can be turned to stop or start the flow of water. Some, such as water closets and urinals, have an emergency overflow pipe that can be opened to clear blockages without opening the regular drain. In homes, plumbing fixtures are often connected to a main riser, which is the vertical portion of the house drain that runs from the basement to each floor in a multi-story home.

Plumbing codes set standards for the design and construction of fixtures, including required minimum sizes for drains, pipes, fittings and vents. The code also sets limits on the materials that can be used in fixtures, and requires that they be free of defects. In addition, codes regulate the clearances between finished walls and plumbing fixtures. This helps to ensure that the fixtures are safely and securely installed, and that they do not interfere with a home’s structure or decor.


Many plumbing tasks require tools specifically made for the job. Often, it’s possible to make repairs using common household tools in a pinch, but more serious issues require specialty hand tools or power tools. Some of the most essential plumbing tools include a plumber’s torch, a pipe cutter, pliers, a hex key set, a spirit level, and a hacksaw. Plumbers also use special gloves and goggles for protection from chemicals, dirt, and debris during a plumbing job.

Other important plumbing tools include a basin wrench that has a long shaft designed to reach into tight spaces behind sinks and faucets to tighten or loosen mounting nuts. A drain auger has a rotating drum housing a long, thin tool that snakes into your drain and grabs the clog to pull it out of your home’s plumbing system.

In addition to these specialty plumbing tools, plumbers will often need a variety of other tools for regular maintenance and repair. For example, a plumber will need a tape measure to take accurate measurements and a flexible tape measure that can get into hard-to-reach places. Plumbers will also need a tubing cutter to cut different sizes of pipes based on the task.

Another important tool is a deburring tool used to remove burrs from the edges of modified pipe pieces. Plumbers also need a metal file to smooth rough pipe edges. Finally, plumbers will often need a torch for soldering, which is when they join two pieces of pipe together with heat. Plumbers can also use a thread sealing tape to help prevent leaks in new or repaired fixtures and components. The right tools can improve efficiency and ensure plumbers are able to tackle every plumbing repair and installation with ease. With the right tools, plumbers can provide better service to their customers and grow their business with more referrals.