Plumbing Glossary

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ABS (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene)
ABS

ABS
An early plastic pipe material used as drainpipe, ABS (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene) has now been superseded in many municipalities in favor of PVC drain Pipe. Check your local codes.

ADAPTER
A fitting that makes it possible to transition from male to female endings, or vice-versa, allowing joints between different kinds of pipe.

Electric Auger
Electric Auger

AUGER
A flexible rod with a cutting device on one end used to clear clogs in drains. An auger is a type of plumbers snake.

Ball Valve
Ball Valve

BALL VALVE
Commonly used as a pool flow main turn off valve named after a bar on the inside of the valve that controls the water.

Buffalo Box
Buffalo Box

BUFFALO BOX
A type of whole house shut off in which the valve is in plastic or concrete box set in the ground.

 

CHECK VALVE
A one-way water flow device. Water is allowed to flow in one direction only.

Cleanout
Cleanout

CLEANOUT
A fitting in a trap or drain pipe that allows the access for clearing blockages.

CLOSET BEND
The elbow fitting beneath a toilet that carries waste to the main drain.

Coupling
Coupling

COUPLING
A fitting used to connect two lengths of pipe in a straight run.

CPVC
Chlorinated polyvinyl chloride pipe, approved by many municipalities for indoor hot and cold supply lines.

Dielectric Fitting
Dielectric Fitting

DIELECTRIC FITTING
A fitting for joining dissimilar metals. Its plastic washer insulates the pipes from each other, preventing a corrosive chemical reaction.

DIVERTER
A faucet valve that diverts water from a faucet spout to a hand sprayer or from a tub spout to a shower head.

DUAL CHECK VALVE
Akin to a check valve but has two one-way spring loaded check valves inside. Required by most codes to isolate the house water system from the public water system.

Elbow
Elbow

ELBOW
A 90 degree fitting that changes the direction of a water supply line.

FALL
The slope of a drain line, generally a minimum of 1/4 in. per foot.

Female Fitting
Female Fitting

FEMALE FITTING
A fitting that has threads on the inside.

FITTING
Any connector (except valve that joins pipes.

FIXTURE
Any device that provides a water or sanitary disposal of wastes.

FIXTURE DRAIN
The drainpipe and trap leading from a fixture to the main drain.

FLOW RESTRICTOR
A device that restricts the flow of water and reduces water use.

Flush Valve
Flush Valve

FLUSH VALVE
The assembly inside a toilet tank that releases water into the toilet bowl to start the flushing action.

FLUX
A chemical paste applied to copper and brass pipes and fittings that improves the cleaning and bonding processes for soldering.

Gate Valve
Gate Valve

GATE VALVE
Commonly used as a full flow main turn-off valve. Named after its rising and failing gate that controls the water.

HOSE BIBB
A threaded faucet to which a hose can be attached.

ID
Abbreviation for inside diameter. See also OD

KNOCKOUTS
Partially incised holes in a sink flange that allow removal for the addition of a fixture such as a sprayer.

Loop Vent
Loop Vent

LOOP VENT
A vent in a kitchen island that loops under the island and connects to a stack from an under-floor vent line.

MAIN DRAIN
The drain pipe between the fixture drains and the sewer drain.

Male Fitting
Male Fitting

MALE FITTING
A fitting with threads on the outside.

NIPPLE
A 12 inch or shorter pipe threaded on both ends and used to join fittings.

NO-HUB FITTING
A neoprene gasket with a stainless-steel band that joins PVC drain pipe to ABS or cast iron pipe.

OD
Abbreviation for outside diameter, see also ID.

O-RING
A round rubber ring that creates a watertight seal, chiefly around valve stems.

PB POLYBUTYLENE PIPE
A plastic pipe no longer code in the USA.

PE
Flexible polyethylene supply pipe, often used in underground outdoor supply systems.

PEX Tubing
PEX Tubing

PEX
Crossed-linked polyethylene plastic tubing used for radiant floor heating and hot and cold supply lines.

PACKING
A plastic or metallic corded material used chiefly to seal faucet stems.

PIPE-THREAD TAPE
A teflon pipe-thread wrapping that seals a threaded joint.

PLUMBERS PUTTY
A paste material used as a sealer.

Pressure Reducer Valve
Pressure Reducer Valve

PRESSURE REDUCER VALVE
Required by public water systems to limit the incoming house pressure to 80 psi or less.

PSI
Abbreviation for pounds per square inch; a measure of pressure levels.

PVC
Polyvinyl chloride pipe, a commonly accepted plastic drainpipe, also sometimes used for outside water lines.

REDUCER
A fitting sized differently at each end to join larger to smaller pipes.

REVENT
A pipe that connects a fixture drainpipe to a main or secondary vent stack.

RISER
A supply pipe running to an overhead fixture.

ROUGH-IN
The first stage of a plumbing job, during which supply and drain-waste vent lines are run to their destination.

RUN
Any length of pipe or pipes.

SANITARY FITTING
Fittings used to join drain-waste vent lines.

SEAL GRINDER
A tool made specifically for smoothing the seat of a faucet valve.

SELF-RIMMING SINK
A drop-in kitchen or bathroom sink made with a formed lip that rests on the countertop to support the sink.

SOIL STACK
A vertical pipe that carries waste to the sewer drain. The main soil stack is the largest vertical drain line of a building.

STAND PIPE
A 2-inch vertical pipe that connects a washer drain hose to the drain system.

STOP VALVE
A valve installed in a fixture supply line that allows shutting off the water when making repairs.

TAIL PIECE
That part of a drain that runs from the fixture drain outlet to the trap.

T
A T-shaped fitting cut into a line to change the direction of the water by a 90-degree angle.

TRANSITION FITTING
A fitting that joins pipe of dissimilar materials, such as copper and plastic, and cast iron or galvanized steel and copper.

TRAP
Part of a fixture drain that prevents sewer gases from entering a home interior.

TY FITTING
A combination T and Y fitting. Allowed where T fittings are not.

UNION
A fitting that allows easy disassembly of pipe.

VACUUM BREAKER
Installed on some spigots to prevent accidental siphoning of water into the house supply lines.

VENT
Vertical portion of a drain line that permits sewer gases to rise out of the house.

VENT STACK
The upper most portion of a vertical drain line through which gases pass to the outside.

WATER HAMMER
A noise caused by sudden changes in the flow of water, causing pipes to repeatedly “hammer” against a framing member or against themselves.

WATER HAMMER ARRESTER
A shock absorber that prevents water hammer.

Y
A Y-shaped fitting.

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