The many uses of plumbing in your home

July 8, 2016

Many of us only think about household plumbing when things go wrong. Yet, access to clean water is essential to our daily lives and everything we do in our homes, from cooking and cleaning to bathing and sanitation. Let’s look at six ways we depend on residential plumbing.

The many uses of plumbing in your home

1. Hygiene

In medieval England, immersing yourself in water was considered to be unhealthy. Probably just as well. The water was often hauled by hand from the nearest community source, which likely was already contaminated. Today, it’s easy to keep clean in the comfort of your own bathroom.

  • Showers are a daily ritual for many people. Shower fixtures can take the form of walk-in showers, bathtubs with a shower fixture, or doorless fixtures.
  • The alcove bathtub, while falling out of favour in many small bathrooms, is still popular for a relaxing soak after a long day. Jacuzzi baths jet water to aching muscles and a large corner bathtub can offer home spa therapy.
  • For brushing teeth and washing hands and faces, the bathroom sink is a staple plumbing fixture when it comes to basic hygiene.
  • Hot water tanks, plumbed into your home plumbing system, are ready to supply water for your bath, shower or sink tap at a moment’s notice.

2. Cooking

Boil rice, steam potatoes, wash vegetables, or make gravy; everything that happens in our kitchens seems to involve water in some form or another.

  • Kitchen taps and kitchen plumbing fixtures bring us safe water, which we can use for drinking or cooking.
  • Let’s not forget the washing up afterwards. Whether by dishwasher or by hand, indoor residential plumbing makes life easier with hot water available at the turn of a tap.

3. Cleaning

Whether you’re mopping the floors or doing the laundry, plumbing fixtures are essential.

  • Washing machines rely on good plumbing connections to transport hot and cold water for cleaning and rinsing clothes.
  • Taps allow us to fill buckets and bowls for cleaning everything from counters to walls to windows and more.

4. Sanitation

The days of the outhouse in the backyard and hauling buckets of water to flush the toilet are happily, long gone.

  • A staple plumbing fixture in North American houses, the toilet uses a flush tank system to empty the toilet and flush its contents into a sewer pipe or septic tank.
  • Water pushed through the plumbing pipes help keep our sanitation system working properly and our home free of disease-causing bacteria.

5. Heating

When we think of household plumbing, we tend to concentrate on sinks, toilets, bathtubs and showers. But for many people, hot water is among the most common sources of heating in the family home.

  • Water can be heated in an electric hot water tank or natural gas boiler and then passed through pipes.
  • These pipes connect to hot-water radiators that disperse heat throughout the home, including through radiant floor heating in bathrooms.
  • In addition to heating, cooling (air conditioning) uses plumbing as well.

6. Gardening and recreation

Whether watering the lawn, tending the garden, or jumping through the sprinklers, running water comes in handy outside of your home as well.

  • Plumbing pipes run from the water source – external city-supplied water, a ground well, or a cistern – to an outside tap, which can be attached to a garden hose to transport the water to where it’s needed.
  • If you’re the proud owner of a hot tub or swimming pool, your home plumbing pipes will transport water from the source to the tub and/or pool.

Household plumbing is one of those “out of sight, out of mind” systems we all take for granted until something goes wrong. That's why knowing where and how plumbing is used in and around your home is key to helping you understand the importance of proper maintenance – before it springs a leak or leaves you in the cold.

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