Where the plumbing is located in and around the house

July 17, 2016

Plumbing can be found just about everywhere inside and outside your house. Understanding where plumbing exists in and around your home will help you develop an overall big-picture of how this vital system works.

Where the plumbing is located in and around the house

It has been estimated that a well-designed household plumbing system accounts for approximately 15 per cent of your home’s value. That's a large investment. Plumbing can be found just about everywhere inside the house, and in a good part of your yard or garden as well.

Understanding where plumbing exists in and around your home can help you develop a big-picture approach to the importance of this vital system.

Inside the house

Water enters most houses from one of three sources: a water utility company, a ground well, or a cistern. Typically, the water is routed directly to the home's hot water heater to ensure there is adequate water pressure for the hot water tank. From there, it splits off to the various plumbing pipes and fixtures.

Good to know!

The water supply entering the house is forced through by the water pressure or, in the case of a ground well or cistern, via a water pump. Wastewater leaving the house via drainage pipes uses gravity to flow down from the upper floors to the vented main stack and then out through the sewer or septic tank connection. You’ll find the main stack vent on the roof of your home.


  • The kitchen plumbing is located under the kitchen sink.
  • Many homes have double sinks with a garburator on one side.
  • Supply and waste pipes to and from a dishwasher will also be located under the sink, and there may be a cold water supply pipe that connects to an ice-making machine in the refrigerator.


  • Bathroom plumbing may or may not be visible, depending on the type of fixtures in the room.
  • A vanity often hides the supply and waste pipes to the sink.
  • Bathtub plumbing usually runs under the tub and into the walls.
  • Supply pipes to a shower unit tend to be hidden in the walls with the drainpipe extending into the floor from the drain hole.
  • The waste drain is located beneath the toilet. The water supply pipe is usually found coming out of the bathroom wall and disappearing into the toilet tank.


  • Basements often house the laundry fixtures and hot water tank.
  • In an unfinished basement, the water pipes are often visible and run along the ceiling and down the walls to the various fixtures.
  • If your basement is finished, typically the plumbing and heating pipes are concealed behind the ceiling and dry wall.

Ceilings walls and attics

  • When a house is built, the plumbing professional will install the water pipes and drains prior to completing the dry wall and any flooring or ceilings.
  • Once the walls and floors are completely finished, your pipes will be located out of sight, making it a little harder for the average DIYer to address leaks or clogs.

Good to know!

If you have a water plumbing and heating system, such as radiators, you will find the pipes located at the side of the radiator and running behind the wall, or concealed in a baseboard. Don't forget to check these regularly for leaks.

Outside the house

Plumbing doesn't stop at the walls of a home. Outside there are a number of places you can find water pipes as well.

Underground sprinkler system

  • If you have a large garden, or if you're growing thirsty vegetables, you may want to invest in an underground sprinkler system.
  • Pipes made from PVC can be laid if you live in a warm climate.
  • Cold climates will need a material such as polyethylene that can withstand the freeze-and-thaw cycle.

Good to know!

Always check your local plumbing codes before installing an underground sprinkler system. There may be a requirement for a building permit.

Swimming pools

Everyone loves a quick dip in the pool on a summer's day, but not everyone knows where to find the water pipes!

  • Water in a swimming pool needs to circulate through a filtration system to remove dirt and debris.
  • The two or more main drains are usually located at the lowest point in the pool and the entire pool floor surface slants towards them.
  • Swimming and hot tub pipes and drains are typically plumbed independently from the household plumbing system.
  • The pool or hot tub is filled with water using a garden hose or, for larger pools, you may want to have a water tanker truck stop by and fill it up.
  • The main drains — a misnomer because they actually act as filters rather than drains — rest at the bottom of the pool.
  • Other parts of the pool plumbing system, such as the pump and heater, are usually located behind or next to the pool. This equipment is often sheltered in a hut or shed to protect it from the weather while keeping it accessible.

Make sure you're familiar with your household plumbing and drainage system. Most importantly, locate and familiarize yourself with the main shut-off valve and any individual shut-off valves at fixtures. In the event of any issues, such as leaks, clogged drains, or plugged pipes, you'll be ready to reach for your toolbox and rise to the challenge.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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