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The complete plumbing glossary

A Valve – a manual gas shut-off valve

ABSAcrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene – a stiff, plastic pipe  and fittings used for drain, waste and vent lines

Absolute pressure – the result of atmospheric pressure added to gauge pressure

Absorption field – leech field engineered to receive septic tank sewage

Adjusting link – adjustable strap/bar, which forms a connection between the lift rod of a faucet and the ball lever of the drain

Aerator – a device screwed into a faucet spout, which mixes air into running water to control flow and reduce splashing

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

Air volume control – maintains air charge in a standard water tank

Alkalinity – the measure of elements in water, which determine its alkaline conditions

Americast – a patented process, which uses a porcelain surface, an enamelling grade steel material and a structural composite backing bonded together to create a sink that is durable like cast iron but considerably lighter

Angle seat wrench – valve seat wrench with a 90 degree bend

Angle stop – a shut-off valve between water pipes and a faucet, usually used in an emergency repair

Angular discharge tube – discharge tube that changes direction of water flow to 90 degrees

Anode rod – a rod within a heater, which is composed of one or more metals and protects the tank from corrosion

Anti-clog suction – a whirlpool water recirculating system, which prevent clogging but doesn’t restrict water flow

Anti-siphon – prevents backflow of water into a system

Apron – the skirting of a bathtub that covers the rough-in area from the floor to the top of the appliance

Aquastat – thermostat that is submerged in water

Aquifier – a zone below the earth’s surface that is capable of yielding a significant volume of water – its upper level is called the water table

Arrow head – heavy duty auger cable trip

Auger – flexible rod with a curved end used to access a toilet’s built-in trap and remove clogs

Back pressure – pressure that resists the flow of fluid in a piping system

Back siphonage – negative pressure that causes back flow

Back vent – plumbing fixture’s separate vent in a building drainage system

Back wash – the process of cleaning a filter by reversing the flow of water through it – the dirt is sent to the waste disposal

Back flow – when water from one system backs into any part of the main distribution system

Back flow preventer – a device that stops back flow – required for sprinkler systems and handheld showers

Backjet – Whirlpool jets located on the fixture wall behind a reclining bather

Backwater valve – sewer line valve that prevents sewage flowing back into the house

Baffle – an object placed in an appliance to change the direction of the flow of air and gases

Ball check valve – a valve that uses a ball to seal against a seat to stop flow in one direction

Ball joint – spherical assembly allowing pivot rotation for many bathroom and shower accessories

Ball passage – refers to the size of the ball that can pass through the trapway of a toilet – it also relates to the trapway size

Ballcock – the fill valve that controls the flow of water from the water supply line into a gravity-operated toilet tank

Barlow’s formula – an equation which shows the relationship of internal pressure to allowable stress, nominal thickness and diameter

Barrier-free – relating to handicap access – e.g. a shower enclosure with minimal bottom track and opening to ease wheelchair access

Base – a substance that releases hydroxyl ion when dissolved in water

Basin wrench – a wrench with a long handle and jaws mounted on a swivel to reach nuts to fasten faucets on a previously installed tank

Batch feed – type of garbage disposer in which waste is fed into unit one load at a time, then activated by placing a stopper into the drain opening

Bernoulli’s law – the principle that a stream of liquid or gas exerts less sideways pressure while in motion than at rest

BHP – brake horse power – the amount of horsepower being consumed by a pump as measured on a dynamometer

Blowbag – a drain-cleaning device consisting of a rubber bladder with a hose fitting on one end and a nozzle on the other – the device attaches to a water hose and is inserted into a clogged drainpipe – as the water is introduced, it expands to grip the pipe and releases pulsating bursts of water through the nozzle, forcing water through the pip to clear an obstruction

Blowdown – partial venting or draining, under pressure of the water side of a boiler to reduce or remove unwanted contaminants

Brackish water – water containing bacteria between 1, 000 and 15, 000 ppm of dissolved solids

Butterfly valve – a serviceable valve that allows water to flow through it when open and stops the flow when closed

BX cable – metallic sheathed cable containing A/C electrical wiring – typically used when wiring would otherwise be exposed

Carbonising – in a pump, where a reduction of hydrocarbons results in the formation of carbon residue that will interfere with the movement of a mechanical seal – often called coking

Cartridge – typically refers to a valve cartridge – it is a single-piece unit that replaces the use of separate seats, stems and seals for water flow

Casing – a tubular structure intended to be watertight – it is installed in the drilled hole to maintain the well opening and prevent ground water from entering

Catch basin – large underground container with a grate on top for collection of storm water – it catches debris and prevent steams and lakes being contaminated

Cathode – a negatively charged electrode

Cation – a positively charged ion in an electrolyte solution, which is attracted to the cathode by a difference in electrical potential

Cavitation – the vacuum created when the discharge of the pump exceeds the replacement in the suction line

Chain wrench – an adjustable wrench, in which a chain is used for gripping

Chamfer – bevelled end

Check stop – shut-off valve used with tub/shower faucet that is activated by turning a slotted stem with a screwdriver – also known as a screwdriver stop or a service stop

Check valve – a type of back flow preventer installed in a pipe that allows water to flow in one direction

Circuit vent – plumbing drainage system vertical vent, which is run from the last two traps on a horizontal drain line to the main vent stack of a building drainage system

Cistern – rainwater storage tank, often underground

Clevis – a U-shaped piece of metal with holes in the ends, through which a pin is run to attached to pipes

Closed system – a system where the incoming cold water supply has a device that will not allow water to expand when heated

Conduit – tube that houses electrical wiring

Cowl – a short fitting used to join two pieces of pipe

Crocus cloth – finer than sandpaper grit on a cloth backing

Cross-connection – any connection that may allow wastewater to enter the supply system

Crown-vented trap – an air admittance valve attached to a drainpipe, protected by a valve, designed to equalise pressure in the drain line and to protect the trap seal

Crows foot – a PVC tee with twin outlets at right angles off the main

Dam – the barrier built into a trapway of a toilet that controls the water level in the bowl

DC – Direct Current – electrical supply in which the polarity of the two wires does not change

Deionisation – process of reducing water to a non-mineral state by passing it over a bed of resins

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

Direct vent – a system that pulls outside air for combustion and vents combustion gases directly outside without a chimney