Plumbing Services

What Is Residential Plumbing?

Residential plumbing encompasses everything that deals with the water supply, drains, and sewer lines inside your home. This includes faucet repair and installation, toilet repairs, and even clogged drain cleaning.


Commercial plumbing deals with larger spaces that have more complex plumbing than a home. In a commercial space, daily plumbing usage is much greater, leading to more frequent problems that require professional plumbing services to fix. Visit to learn more.

Residential plumbing pipes bring water into a home, carry it between fixtures, and provide a vital drain and vent system. Pipes come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and materials, making it important for homeowners to understand what each type of pipe does and its advantages or drawbacks before selecting one for a project.

Polyethylene cross-linked pipe (PEX) is a popular choice for water supply lines, as it’s cheap and easy to install. It’s also durable and doesn’t leach traces of rust or corrosion into the water like galvanized pipes can. PEX is available in both rigid and flexible varieties, with the latter ideal for navigating tight spaces and being snaked through walls or ceilings. It’s typically color-coded for quick identification, with red for hot water and blue for cold.

Rigid copper is another common choice for water supply lines, as it’s a durable material that handles heat well and resists corrosion better than plastic. It can be cut with a hacksaw or a copper tube cutter and is usually connected by soldering, which requires the use of tools that require skill and care to handle.

Drain-Waste-Vent (DWV) pipes are used to connect a home’s fixtures, such as toilets and showers, to the main sewer line. DWV pipes must be made from a durable material that’s resistant to corrosive substances, such as acids and chemicals found in household cleaners and some food products. Traditionally, DWV pipes were made from cast iron or galvanized steel. However, most experts recommend replacing old galvanized pipes with a modern alternative to avoid the risk of internal rusting and subsequent sewage contamination. In addition to the aforementioned PVC pipes, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene pipe (ABS) is often used for drain and vent lines. It looks similar to PVC but is more sturdy, making it an excellent option for exterior underground piping that’s not exposed to sunlight.

Distribution Pipes

There are several different pipe materials to choose from in a plumbing system. The choice depends on both the function and layout of the space, as well as local plumbing codes. For example, copper is a popular material for water supply pipes because it is durable and easy to work with. However, it’s more expensive than other options.

Water service lines are usually buried underground, connecting your home to the municipal water supply. These are typically made of copper, cast iron, or galvanized steel. A traditional plumbing system uses large-diameter pipes to bring in the water, then divides it into smaller pipes for distribution throughout your home. These smaller pipes are then connected to your fixtures.

If you want to reduce the amount of chemicals in your water, you can install a water treatment device on the main line going into your home. This will prevent toxins from being introduced to your drinking water and help you enjoy the best-tasting water possible.

In the past, builders opted for galvanized steel, lead, or copper pipes. After WWII, copper became a popular alternative to galvanized steel because it is resistant to corrosion. In the 1970s, polybutylene piping was introduced. This was a popular option until it was found to be harmed by chlorine exposure and banned by many building codes.

Today, many builders choose to use PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and DWV (drain, waste, and venting) pipe for their plumbing systems. This material is suitable for most residential applications and can be easily cut with a tubing cutter or hacksaw. It’s also affordable and durable, though sun exposure can warp it over time. Another option is PEX (cross-linked polyethylene). This pipe is flexible enough to fit in tight spaces, yet strong and durable. It has a low initial cost and minimal maintenance costs, but it may not be up to code in some areas.

Drain Pipes

Drain pipes carry waste water from latrines, bathtubs, sinks, and other plumbed fixtures. They usually run from the fixture to a main drain line that connects to the municipal sewer system or a septic tank on the property. The drain lines are sloped to promote the flow of liquid and solid waste. They are also capped to keep rain, animals, and debris out and air in.

Local plumbing codes prescribe the standards for building residential drain, waste, and vent pipes. An understanding of these standards is important for designing a home plumbing system.

In addition, knowing the typical lifespan of different piping materials helps homeowners schedule maintenance or repairs as needed. For example, knowing that galvanized steel piping typically lasts 80–100 years lets a homeowner plan for replacement when the pipes reach the end of their useful life.

Among recent developments in residential piping, polyethylene (PEX) is gaining popularity due to its cost effectiveness and durability. This plastic form of piping comes in both hot and cold-water lines, with each pipe marked with a color to indicate its function. For example, red PEX lines are used for hot-water pipes, and blue lines are used for cold-water lines.

Another new type of residential piping is called ceramic. This is similar to PVC in strength and performance, but it’s more earth-friendly as it doesn’t require fossil fuels for production. Another option is polypropylene (PP), which has enjoyed widespread success in Europe. This is a more expensive form of piping than the others, but it has excellent heat tolerance and is expected to last indefinitely. To install this piping, a professional must use specialized tools, making it impractical for the average DIYer to employ them.

Vent Pipes

The vent pipes in your plumbing allow a small amount of air to remain between the drain trap and the water pushing down on it. This keeps the trap from filling completely and allowing dangerous sewage gases into your home. Without these pipes, a vacuum effect could force the wastewater into the main line leading to the public sewer or your private septic system. The result would be a backup of the system with standing water and gurgling sounds.

The plumbing vents also help to equalize the pressure on both sides of the trap and prevent the “trap suckout” that can occur when the weight of the draining water is not enough to keep the trap full. Plumbing codes typically require that vent pipes be at least as wide as the drain pipe they lead to. They must also be installed so that they are dry—never have any water running through them—and that they do not block window framing or other obstructions in your house.

You can easily spot a plumbing vent if you look at your roof; these are the pipes that poke out through the gutters and down the roof slope. They are usually a few inches in diameter, and you can see their ends poking out of the shingles. If you have a problem with your vents, it is likely because they are blocked by birds, rodents, or other animals seeking shelter in the open space inside. They may be clogged with debris such as leaves, twigs, or paper products. A plumber will run a snake through the vent pipe to clear any clogs. A plumber may also use a studor valve or air admittance valve (check local regulations to make sure these are allowed) if it is not possible to clear the vent clog with a snake.

Water heaters and storage tanks

Water heaters and storage tanks heat water for use in washing, bathing, and kitchen activities. They can be powered by either fuel, such as natural gas or electricity, and have inlets for entering and exiting water, as well as a temperature and pressure relief valve. These valves prevent the heater from exploding in cases of overheating or overpressure. They also ensure that the tanks can be accessed for observation, maintenance, and replacement.

The tank system has a thermostat that triggers the heating element at the bottom of the tank to start warming up the water, and then it keeps the water at a constant temperature. When you need hot water, it is taken from the top of the tank. The tank can also be connected to a building recirculation line to preheat the incoming cold water.