Plumbing Glossary

Plumbing tends to involve parts with technical terms. If you’re not sure what something is called, or you don’t know what we’re talking about, this list should help you.


A device screwed into the end of a faucet spout that mixes air into flowing water, and controls flow to reduce splashing. It sometimes contains a baffle to reduce flow to 2.5 gpm.

Air Lock:

Blockage in the flow of liquid, especially on the suction side of a pump caused by an air bubble in the line.

Angle Stop:

A shutoff valve between the water pipes and a faucet. Its inlet connects to the water supply pipe in a wall, and its outlet angles up 90 degrees toward the faucet. These are usually used to shut off water to a fixture in case of an emergency repair rather than daily usage.

Back Flow Preventer:

A device to prevent water from travelling from one system back into any part of the main distribution system, usually by siphoning, especially. into a potable water supply. This is generally required for sprinkler systems, handheld showers, pullout faucet spouts, kitchen sprayers, etc.

Ball Check Valve:

A valve that uses a ball to seal against a seat to stop flow in one direction.


The fill valve that controls the flow of water from the water supply line into a gravity-operated toilet tank. It is controlled by a float mechanism that floats in the tank water. When the toilet is flushed, the float drops and opens the ballcock, releasing water into the tank and/or bowl. As the water in the tank is restored, the float rises and shuts off the ballcock when the tank is full.

Basket Strainer – or Plug and Waste :

A basket-shaped strainer with holes and a slot that fits into a sink to allow water to run out but to catch food or other objects before they can enter the sewage system and possibly clog the drain.

Cess Pit:

A pit or pool for draining, collecting, or storing water. A chamber which provides water to the pump.


The storage tank on a toilet.


Valves which direct water to various outlets. They are used in showers, tubs, bidets, and sinks.


Septic system liquid waste.


Usually a wall or bench mounted tap, with separate hot and cold taps connected to a centre spout.

Finish Plumbing:

Installation of plumbing fixtures to make the system usable.


In plumbing, the devices that provide a supply of water and/or its disposal, e.g. sinks, tubs, toilets

Flexi Connector:

One piece stop and riser combination. One-piece supply.

Gray Water:

Waste water from sinks, showers, and bathtubs, but not toilets.


The primary artery of supply of the water supply or drain system in which all the branches connect. In the case of drains, known as the Water Main.


A single lever tap or shower valve that hot and cold water enters and comes out at a mixed temperature.


An instrument usually with a rubber head, used to create suction in a drain line or a toilet to push a clog through the line.

Pop-Up Waste:

Type of drain assembly for a vanity or bath. When a lift rod lever is lifted or just a manual push of your finger, the pop-up drain closes so the vanity or tub retains water.

Roof Flashing:

Sheet metal installed at any break in a roofline to prevent leaks. Also around sewer vents, fluepipes.

Sanitary Sewer:

House drain that carries wastewater away from the house to a sewer system or septic tank.

Septic Tank:

A tank that catches all foul and waste water from a domestic house.


The vertical main in the drain, waste, and vent system, extending one or more stories.

Storm Water Drain:

House drain that carries rainwater away from the house to a storm water system or soak hole.


Usually refers to a single tap i.e. a hot tap or a cold tap


Curved section of drain line that prevents sewer odors from escaping into the atmosphere. All fixtures that have drains must have a “P” or a “S” trap installed.


Normal working Hours

Trap Seal:

Height of water in a toilet bowl “at rest.”. It provides the water seal which prevents sewer gases from entering the home..


A pipe that allows air into a drain system to balance the air pressure, preventing water in the traps from being siphoned off.

Waste & Overflow:

Drain assembly for a bathtub. The outlet at the top removes the overflow water during tub filling and the drain at the bottom removes wastewater when the tub is drained.

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