Sewer and Drains Glossary

Sewer and Drains Glossary

The business of sewers and drains isn’t always pretty, but it is necessary. Instead of leaving you to wade through the muck of confusion, we’ve put together this sewer and drains glossary to shed some light on the key terms and phrases used throughout our services.

24/7 Emergency Services: A round-the-clock, fast-response service that will help you during plumbing emergencies. If you have a sewer backup, a clogged drain line, or a persistent leak, our professional team will arrive at your residence or business quickly to stop it and perform any possible repairs.

ABS Pipes: Lengths of pipe made from Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene used for drains and vents. This black plastic pipe is hard and durable.

Back Flow: When water or wastewater backs up from one system into another. Backflow can result from clogs or flooding, but it also happens due to the siphoning effects of faulty valves and vents.

Back Flow Preventer: Also called a backwater valve or a check valve. A backflow preventer is a type of valve installed on your sewer line that stops wastewater from flowing back into your home or contaminating the potable water supply. It is a requirement for sprinkler systems but is recommended for sewer lines as well.

Cesspit: A concrete pit that collects sewage or contaminated water. It will eventually fill up and needs to be emptied periodically using special hydraulic equipment. It will then be transported to a treatment plant.

Clogged Pipes: Sections of pipe can become clogged due to tree roots, excessive corrosion, debris build-up, hair, soap scum, etc. You can have a partial or full clog. Partial clogs will let some wastewater from toilets and drains pass, resulting in slow drains. Complete clogs will result in water backup and possibly sewer backup. You will need professional drain cleaning to rid your pipes of stubborn clogs.

Commercial Pipe Repair: The repair of defective pipes that belong to commercial properties. They could be on the premises of a restaurant, office, storefront, or cafe. Because most businesses have running water, commercial pipe repair is required to keep building sewer lines running smoothly for workers and customers.

Drain Cleaning: The act of removing built-up debris from drains. There are multiple types of drain cleaning, including drain snaking, pipe jetting, and micro cleaning. Each performs a unique function in removing blockages and thoroughly scrubbing your pipes.

Drain Snake (auger): A metal cable that enters your drain line and breaks through the clog. It creates an opening in which the wastewater can flow down the pipe. The motor on the drain snake will spin the cable to break up the clog. Commercial augers will have blades to help professional plumbing companies break through tough debris like tree roots.

Effluent: The liquid waste in your septic system.

Fixture: A part of the plumbing that expels or accepts water or wastewater. A sink, toilet, tub, shower head, and outdoor faucet are all examples of plumbing fixture outlets.

Flow Rate: Measured in gallons per minute (GPM) or gallon per hour (GPH), the flow rate is the amount of fluid flow that passes through a plumbing system.

Float Ball: A ball that floats inside the toilet tank and measures the water level to start or stop it from filling up.

Gasket: Similar to a rubber washer, a gasket is a flat rubber device that creates a watertight seal between metal joints in plumbing fixtures.

Gray Water: A commercial or residential wastewater collection generated from any other fixture than a toilet. It comes from your washing machine, sinks, and shower.

Grease Trap: A component that traps grease in your pipes before entering the sewer line.

Hard Water: Water that has a high mineral content. It may contain calcium and magnesium. Water high in these minerals may result in dry skin, an unpleasant taste, and brittle hair.

Leaky Pipes: This results from cracked pipes, holes from corrosion, and loose joint fixtures. Leaky pipes can cause water damage behind the walls of your home or business and its foundation. This can lead to structural issues over time, as well as the chance for water damage, mold, and wood rot. It may be difficult to detect leaky pipes, but property owners should be aware of low pressure of water, musty smells, increasing utility bills, stains on the ceiling, floor, and walls, as well as pools of water around your sink, tub, and washing machine.

Main: The main part of the drain or sewer system in which all of the fixture branches connect.

Micro Cleaning: The latest technology in complete pipe cleaning. Micro cleaning or micro cutting is an advanced tool that cuts through roots and scales while thoroughly cleaning your pipes. This tool uses a spinning cutting head and a powerful stream of water or air to completely clean pipes from 2” to 12” in diameter. At the end of your micro cleaning service, your pipes will be like new and allow for maximum flow.

No Dig Pipe Repair: Also known as trenchless pipe repair, this non-invasive service can resolve collapsed and cracked sewer pipes and drains without digging up your basement or backyard. As opposed to traditional pipe repair, this method will take under a day to complete.

PB Pipes: Polybutylene is a type of bendable plastic tube that’s used to transport water to bathroom fixtures. It’s connected to your main water line and can bend around awkward angles.

PE Pipes: Polyethylene is another type of flexible plastic tubing commonly used in plumbing.

PEX Pipes: Cross-linked polyethylene. Flexible plastic pipe that is more durable than regular PE. It is used for water supply lines in bathrooms and kitchens.

Pipe Lining (CIPP Lining): Cured In Place Pipe Lining entails inserting a custom-made epoxy-soaked felt liner into your pipes before inflating a bladder to press the liner against the inside of the pipe. When the epoxy cures in 1-3 hours, we’ll remove the bladder to reveal a fortified sewer line. This trenchless method is ideal for pipes with cracks, holes, and corrosion, not those that are completely collapsed.

Pipe Coating: This process involves using a pipe coater that slides through your sewer line and navigates 90-degree turns and offsets. On its way, it will spray the interior of the pipe with 100% polyurea. Pipe coating is possible for up to 250 feet from the entrance of insertion.

Pipe Inspection: An inspection can be done manually or with a video camera. It is usually the first step of any drain cleaning or pipe repair process. During an inspection, a professional plumber will peer down your pipes to assess their condition. They may find blockages, tree roots, or corrosion, but if you’re up to date on your annual maintenance, they may find them to be completely clean.

Pipe Jetting: Using high-pressure hot water to blast through clogs, this advanced method of pipe cleaning can clear your sewer line of built-up debris and even smaller roots. This method is more thorough and effective than drain snaking and will dissolve grease and sludge in its path.

Plumber’s Putty: A type of putty that a plumber uses to seal joints between the surfaces of fixtures and metal pieces. It’s most commonly used in drains and has a dough-like texture.

Plunger: A common household tool used by homeowners to resolve small clogs. Made from rubber, a plunger measures 6” in diameter and creates downward pressure when secured over a drain. The excess pressure generated can push down trapped wastewater; However, plungers are not a substitute for regular drain cleaning but can be handy in certain situations.

Preventative Maintenance: An important part of maintaining a healthy sewer and drain line. Preventative maintenance involves regular inspection and cleaning and will address any necessary repairs when they occur. You can schedule maintenance appointments annually with a professional plumber to ensure you do not run into costly problems down the road.

PVC: Polyvinyl-Chloride. One of the types of pipe is made from white plastic. It is used for pieces of pipe in your bathroom drains and vent pipes.

Residential Pipe Repair: Pipe repair conducted at a residential private property. This could be in a 4-story home, bungalow, or apartment complex. Residential pipes experience less frequent use than some commercial properties do. However, they are handled the same way.

Scale: A build-up of calcium on the bottom of a tank. It may prevent heat transfer from occurring, which may explain why your taps or shower isn’t getting as hot as it used to.

Sediment: Debris in tanks that settles on the bottom.

Septic Tank: Used to hold domestic waste materials before they can be transported away from homes to sewage treatment plants. Septic tanks are utilized when a sewer line leading to a city sewer is not present and must be emptied periodically.

Shutoff Valve: A valve installed under a sink or toilet that shuts off the water supply. This valve is used when there is a leak or when repairs or maintenance is needed.

Soft Water: Treated water that has low mineral content.

Second Opinion: It’s not uncommon for homeowners to be taken advantage of by contractors who quote them higher prices than are necessary to complete the job. That’s why getting a second opinion is always important. Sewer Surgeons offers second opinions for home and business owners to ensure they are indeed getting the best price and that the issue the first contractor reported is indeed present.

Sewage: Human and domestic waste suspended in water.

Sewer Backup: This nasty plumbing emergency occurs when raw sanitary sewage backs up into your home from your sanitary sewer line. Backups happen because of clogs, but they can also occur by way of flooding from a nearby body of water. Sewers often back up through the lowest plumbing fixture in homes, i.e. the basement toilet or shower drain. You can prevent backups by having a backflow device installed on your main sewer line or by booking regular drain cleaning appointments.

Trap: The curved section of a drain that will trap a portion of water to stop sewer gases from entering your bathroom. “P” traps and “S” traps are the most common types of fixture traps found in bathrooms.

Trap Seal: The small portion of water inside your “P” or “S” trap that stops sewer gases from entering your bathroom.

Tree Root Invasion: Your sewer line runs underground through your back or front yard, connecting with your public sewer line or a cesspit. If you have trees in your yard, which most homeowners do, you run the risk of tree root invasion into your pipes. Tree roots are very strong and can push through the bottom or top of your pipes, cracking them and growing big enough to form a partial or full blockage.

Trenchless Green Technology: Sewer Surgeons uses eco-friendly pipe lining with minimal or no VOCs. This method is much greener than traditional pipe lining that uses gas-powered excavation tools.

Trenchless Sewer Repair: Traditional pipe repair involves digging a trench in your yard or parking lots or jackhammering the concrete slab under your home to access your underground pipe. Trenchless pipe repair does not. Only one hole will need to be dug to access the main entrance of your sewer line. Our trenchless methods involve CIPP lining and pipe coating.

Trenchless Water Pipe Repair: Homes also have water lines that run fresh water through plumbing fixtures. While they may not experience all of the same types of clogs, they can corrode and be blocked by tree roots. Repairing these pipes via trenchless methods involves minimal invasion, only that a small hole be dug to access the entrance of the main water line. Trenchless water pipe repair methods include CIPP lining and pipe coating.

Upfront Pricing: Also known as transparent pricing, upfront pricing is offered by reliable plumbers who want their customers to know exactly what they’ll pay before their plumbing service has begun. Upfront pricing will allow customers to budget for their service, but it also gives them peace of mind knowing they will not be charged any additional, unexpected fees.

Valve: This device regulates the flow of water inside your sewer pipe.

Valve Seat: The part of the valve that does not move. When the movable part of the valve touches the valve seat, the flow of water is stopped.

Vent: A vertical pipe or part of your drain pipe that slopes downward to allow sewer gasses to escape. It helps to balance air pressure and prevents the siphoning of excess water in traps.

Video Camera Inspection: During a drain cleaning or repair service, we will use video camera equipment to assess the condition of your drains. We will insert a camera down your sewer line and record what’s there. When it reaches the blockage or point of damage, we can tell exactly where it’s located in order to properly repair it. If excavation is required, knowing the exact location helps us prevent unnecessary digging.

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