Glossary of Plumbing Terms

Plumbing Vocabulary and Industry Terms | Glossary
Plumbing Vocabulary and Industry Terms | Glossary




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There are currently 73 names in this directory
3-Way Valve
A valve that can supply one of two outlets, depending on the position of the valve handle.

A Valve
A gas shut-off valve. Valves are mechanical devices that control the flow and pressure within a plumbing system. They are essential components of a piping system that conveys liquids, gases, vapors, etc. Different types of valves are available: gate, ball, globe, plug, butterfly, check, diaphragm, pinch, pressure relief, control valves, etc. Some valves are self-operated while others are manually-operated.

ABS
Abbreviation for Acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene. ABS is used for manufacturing rigid black plastic pipes used for drain, waste, and vent lines.

ABS pipes
Rigid plastic pipes that perform very well in plumbing, especially when used for drain, waste, and vent lines.

AC
Alternating Current – Electrical supply in which the polarity of the hot wire reverses rapidly (unlike in DC).

Access cover
Removable plate that permits access to a pipe or pipe fitting for the purpose of inspection, maintenance, repair or replacement.

Access panel
A covered opening in a wall or ceiling near a fixture that allows easy access for servicing the plumbing/electrical system. For example, an access panel will allow you to shut off the water by giving access to the valve. Access panels come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.

Accessible
In the opinion of the inspector, the object (plumbing fixture, etc.) can be approached or entered safely without difficulty, fear or danger.

Acidity
The level of concentration of acid in water. Acid (higher acidity in water) will neutralize an alkali/base. Acidity is usually expressed in terms of its calcium carbonate equivalent. The opposite term to acidity is alkalinity. The pH scale measures the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. A pH less than 7 is acidic. Alkalis dissolve in water to give a pH greater than 7. A pH equal to 7 indicates a neutral solution.

Activate
To turn on, supply power, or enable systems, equipment or devices to become active by normal operating controls. Examples: turning on the gas or water supply valves to the fixtures and appliances; or activating electrical breakers/fuses.

Adaptor
A fitting that unites different types of pipe together, such as ABS to cast-iron pipe, PEX to copper pipe, etc.

Adjustable Hot Limit Stop
Restricts the amount of hot water released by your system at a time to prevent scalding.

Aerator
A device that mixes air into flowing water. It is screwed onto the end of a faucet spout to help reduce splashing and save the water consumption.

AGA
American Gas Association (abbreviation).

Air Bleeder
A device that, when opened, allows air to flow out of the hydronic system.

Air Gap
Connects to the drain line between the dishwasher and garbage disposal to allow debris to discharge into the disposal and prevent dirty water from returning to the dishwasher.

Airlock
An air bubble that stops liquid flowing through a pipe.

Alkalinity
The measurement of constituents in a water supply which determines alkaline conditions. The alkalinity of water is a measure of its capacity to neutralize acids. The opposite term to alkalinity is acidity. The pH scale measures the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. A pH less than 7 is acidic. Alkalis dissolve in water to give a pH greater than 7. A pH equal to 7 indicates a neutral solution.

Ambient Temperature
The average temperature of the atmosphere in the vicinity of an appliance in question.

Ampere
A unit of measure of current flow.

Aspiration
The result of mixing air with discharging water for the purpose of enhancing the hydro-massage effect of the whirlpool.

Auger
A flexible rod, usually constructed of a metal spring. A cutting implement is usually attached at one end, and is used to clear away clogs in your drain. Underground drain lines require a larger auger, which will often be motorized to power through bigger, more problematic blockages.

Auto Float Vent
A device that will allow air out but not the water. Air bleeder will close when it is full of water.

Automatic Transfer Switch
A device that automatically switches the power source to a backup generator in the event the primary power source fails.

Back Flow
Back flow or backflow is a condition of water traveling from one system back into any part of the main distribution system.

Back Up
The overflow of a plumbing fixture caused by a clogged drain or pipe (when water cannot flow through it because something is blocking it).

Back Wash
The process of cleaning a filter by reversing the flow of water through it.

Ball Check Valve
This mechanism uses a ball to create a seal, allowing for one-way water delivery.

Ball Valve
A valve that uses a ball to seal up against the seat.

Ballcock
Ballcocks also known as float valves, are found in water tanks and are used to control the flow of water into the tank. They work by rising with the water level in the tank which in turn activates a lever which then shuts the valve. When the water level falls, the float ball valve and lever drops which then reopens the valve leaving water-free to return and refill the tank. (also check Ballcock washer; Ballcock assembly).

Base
A substance when dissolved in water it releases hydroxyl ions. It reacts with an acid to form salt and water.

Basin
A vessel with curved walls used to hold water for washing.

Bathtub
A large plumbing fixture used for taking a bath. It typically stands on a floor in a bathroom.

Bleeding
The process of draining a pipe of excess air by opening a valve.

Blockage
In plumbing, a blockage is something that blocks a pipe.

Boiler
A tank/reservoir where water is turned into steam (or hot water) for the use of heating. Boilers generate hot water or steam for hydronic heating systems such as radiators, finned-tube baseboard heaters, radiant floor heating, radiant panels (towel warmers), kick space heaters and indirect water heaters.

Boiling Point (BP)
The temperature of which water turns to vapor when the heat is applied. The boiling point of water is 212°F or 100°C.

British Thermal Unit
A quantity of heat energy required to raise the temperature of 1 lb. of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit. British Thermal Unit is abbreviated "BTU. Gas- and oil-fired water heaters provide BTU-per-hour ratings. For electric water heaters, multiply the watt rating by 3.4128 to get the equivalent BTU input per hour.

BTU
British Thermal Unit. A quantity of heat energy required to raise the temperature of 1 lb. of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit. Gas- and oil-fired water heaters provide BTU-per-hour ratings. For electric water heaters, multiply the watt rating by 3.4128 to get the equivalent BTU input per hour.

Burner
A heat-producing device where a flame is used to provide heat or plumbing heating.

Butane
An organic compound, an alkane with 4 carbon atoms (its formula is C4H10). The term refers to either of two structural isomers: n-butane or isobutane, or to a mixture of both.

Circulation Pump
The device that causes water to circulate within the heating system.

Energy Class
A class that provides an indication of energy efficiency of a product or package. The format for heat generators and packages will be from A++ to G and for controls it will be from I to VIII.

Heat Emitter
Heat emitters are the objects which are used by heating systems to distribute the heat into the rooms/spaces. They are a part of a heating system that removes heat from the hot water as it emits it into the space to be heated (air in our home). Heat emitter may be a simple radiator, baseboard register, a coil in a forced-air furnace, tubing in a radiant floor. If the supply and return lines are not properly insulated, they might become heat emitters (against our will) moving heat into the ground and wasting energy. Emitters transfer heat by convection and radiation of heat.

Hot Water Cylinders
Are cylinders (vented and unvented) for storing domestic hot water.

Hydronic Heating Systems
Systems that use water to move heat from where it is produced to where it is needed. The water within the system is neither the source of the heat nor its destination; only its conveyor medium. Modern hydronic heating has many benefits: unsurpassed comfort, energy savings, clean and quiet operation, low air dehumidification, etc.

Hydronics
Is a name for the use of water as the heat transfer medium in heating systems.

Manifold
A section of system piping that groups several branches of piping into one area.

Package
Is one of a defined combination of heating products that is supplied to an end customer and is intended to be used within the same heating system.

Package Label
Is a label in the format defined within the regulations which must be supplied when a package is sold to end customer.

Plumber's Tape
Is a polytetrafluoroethylene film that helps you to get a watertight seal on threaded pipe joints. Also called Teflon or PTFE tape.

Poor water quality
Water with high amounts of solids, sand or dirt that can create deposits inside the wall of heat exchanger components, reducing the amount of heat output.

Product Fiche
A table of technical information that a manufacturer of a heating or hot water product is required to provide.

Product Label
Is supplied by the manufacturer of any product within the scope of the regulation and provides information about the energy performance of that product.

PTFE Tape
A polytetrafluoroethylene film for use in sealing pipe threads. It is also called Plumber's tape or Teflon tape.

Shut-off Valve
A valve that can be closed to stop the flow or opened to allow the flow.

Sludge
A soft, wet mud made up of a mixture of liquids and solids. The term is often used to refer to dirty oil or the byproducts of the oil refining process. Heavier solids drift to the bottom of the tank and form a sediment that gets thicker with time.

Solar device
Solar device means a solar-only system, a solar collector, a solar hot water storage tank or a pump in the collector loop, which are placed on the market separately.

Solar Thermal Collector
A solar thermal panel (flat plate or vacuum tube).

Solar Thermal Cylinder
A hot water cylinder with at least tow heating coils one of which is specifically for connection to a solar thermal collector.

Suppliers
Supplier is a generic term used within the regulations to include manufacturers, importers merchants, and installers.

System
Generally refers to a central heating system or in some cases a solar water heating system.

Temperature Control
Feature of the equipment that interacts with the end-user regarding the values and timing of the desired indoor temperature. It communicates relevant data to an interface of the heater such as a central processing unit, thus helping to regulate the indoor temperature.

Thermal radiation
A process by which electromagnetic radiation (energy) is emitted by a heated surface in all directions and travels to its point of absorption at the speed of light. Thermal radiation does not require an intervening medium to carry it (unlike in Hydronic Heating System).

Thermocouple
An important safety device that prevents gas from being sent to the pilot and burner if there is no source of ignition. If the gas were to continue flowing to an unlit pilot light, the result would be a hazardous buildup of natural gas. While the part sends an electric signal to the gas valve, it doesn’t use any electricity itself but instead uses heat to generate an electrical impulse.

Thermostat
A device that controls the temperature in the space to be heated by sensing that temperature and turning the heat emitters on or off (depending on the temp).

Thermostatic Mixing Valve
A 3-way valve that mixes hot and cold water based on the temperature of the water flowing from the outlet.

Thermostatic Valve
A valve that opens and closes based on the temperature of the fluid inside the valve.

Threaded Seal Tape
A polytetrafluoroethylene film for use in sealing pipe threads. Also called Plumber's tape, PTFE Tape or Teflon tape.

Water Heater
A plumbing appliance designed for heating cold water in the water distribution system. A plumbing appliance is a special type of plumbing fixture/device that: - is connected to an external supply of drinking or sanitary water; - generates and transfers heat to deliver drinking or sanitary hot water at given temperature levels, quantities and flow rates during given intervals; - is equipped with one or more heat generators.

Water-To-Air Heat Exchanger
A coil with water flowing inside copper tubes that are covered with metal fins. Heat is removed from the water inside the tubes when air moves across the metal fins.

Water-To-Water Heat Exchanger
A device that transfers heat from one water system to another without mixing the water in the two systems.

Zone Valve
A valve that is opened and closed electrically to send hot water to a specific zone in the building to be heated.


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