Important Plumbing Terms Homeowners Should Know

Important Plumbing Terms Homeowners Should Know
crawfordmech July 23, 2015

Imagine for a moment that you place a call to a local plumber to enquire about an issue you are having with your bathroom drain.  Could the plumber tell you about the business and what might be wrong?  “Well, I’m a master plumber who is licensed, bonded, and insured. Your drain problem may be with the trap.”

Maybe you understand what he meant and maybe you didn’t. Whenever you are discussing an issue, it’s best if both parties have a common language so that meanings are clear. When contacting a plumber, the following terms will help you speak his or her language.

Licensed, Bonded, and Insured

These are three of the most important words in plumbing. A plumber who is licensed has met any requirements set by the local government in order to do business.  Insured means that the plumber carries insurance to cover injuries, damages, and liabilities in the workplace. A plumber who is bonded has obtained additional insurance through an outside agency. The bond covers extraordinary circumstances such as failure of the business or theft by workers.

Low Flow and Low Consumption

Terms such as “low flow” or “low consumption” describe the amount of water used by the fixture in question (ie, “low flow shower head”). In order to conserve water, low flow toilets use 1.6 gallons of water or less for each flush. Shower heads will have a GPM or Gallons Per Minute description. A low flow shower head may also carry the WaterSense label. According to the Environmental Protection Agency these fixtures will use no more than 2.0 GPM.

Master Plumber

A master plumber is one who has completed the apprentice and journeyman phases of training. An apprentice is an entry-level trainee who is at least 18 years old and generally holds a high school diploma or a GED. A journeyman has completed the apprenticeship and is continuing training while taking on more responsibility over four or five years. A master plumber generally has 10 to 15 years experience and has passed a state licensing exam.


A trap is a part of the drain pipe under a sink. It may be in the shape of a P or an S. The trap is meant to hold water in the pipe to prevent sewer gases from entering the kitchen or bathroom through the drainage pipe. The trap also can become clogged, particularly in showers or kitchen sinks, where hair or food waste can collect. Sometimes a homeowner can find the clog with simple DIY procedures, but a professional is absolutely necessary if the problem is beyond the trap since advanced drain cleaning will be necessary.

Septic System

If your home is not connected to a city sewer system, then a septic system handles waste from the home. The septic system refers to the complete system including the septic tank, septic field and the connecting pipes. The septic tank is stored underground and receives wastewater from the home. Waste settles within the two chambers of the tank and is broken down through an anaerobic bacterial process. The resulting product is then discharged into the ground, known as the septic field, where it is further filtered and purified.

At Crawford Mechanical Services our goal is to have open, honest conversations with our clients about their needs and our residential plumbing services. Our professionals will not hide behind technical jargon but will take the time to explain everything to you in plain English

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