The Definitive HomeOwners Guide To Plumbing Basics 2018

The Definitive HomeOwners Guide To Plumbing Basics 2018

When it comes to plumbing basics, it’s vital to know that your plumbing is fitted and working correctly, not just from a financial savings point of view, but in order to ensure yours and your family’s comfort and safety.

It’s also important to know that a local plumbing service, such as the one provided by Taylor Pickering, is available in an emergency, as and when the worst happens, such as a burst pipe or broken boiler.

Advantages to knowing plumbing basics

Wherever it is you call home, whether it’s a house or flat, leased or owned property, it’s absolutely worth knowing some plumbing basics to ensure you can hold off a problem until help arrives. This might include knowing how to turn the water off at the mains, for example, if there’s a leak.

This basic plumbing knowledge will help you to avoid situations from happening in the first place, enable you to make the right decisions, save money and feel more secure in your home.

Terms you need to know

Bear in mind that a home’s plumbing system includes all the water utilities, plus the heating, air conditioning, drainage and wastewater. In these utilities, such as sinks and toilets, there are two separate sets of pipes – one for incoming water supply and the other to carry away used water.

When learning the plumbing basics, the types of terms you might hear bandied about can include the following:

  • Stop cock/ stop valve/ stop tap – the main on/off switch for your water
  • Overflow (or warning pipe) – this system prevents the tanks in indirect systems from overflowing
  • Cold feed: Pipe that send cold mains water to the hot water system.
  • Storage cistern – where cold water is stored in an indirect system and in the direct version, where water is stored before it goes to the hot water system
  • Float Valve/ Float Operated Valve/ Ball valve – floats on top of the tank connected to a lever that closes when the tank is full

Indirect Water Systems

So, in the jargon section above, you may have seen us refer to indirect and direct water systems and be baffled as to what they are. When looking to learn the plumbing basics, here’s all you need to know about indirect water systems:

  • They’re the most common type in the UK (in older houses).
  • Fresh water is supplied through a stop cock outside the property and enters the property underground.
  • Your stop cock can usually be found under the kitchen sink.
  • It supplies drinking water to the kitchen sink – the rest comes from a storage tank.
  • Once you’ve turned the mains off (cut off the water at the stopcock), you might still get water coming from the storage tank.
  • They aren’t as noisy as the direct water systems, but can be more expensive to install and the storing of water means risk of contamination.

Direct Water Systems

Houses built in more recent years usually come equipped with direct water systems which send mains pressured drinking water to every cold tap in the property. Depending on the system, the cold water will come through either the hot water cylinder or combi boiler to provide hot water for the house. When looking at the benefits of direct water systems once more, the plumbing basics are as follows:

  • Cheaper to get fitted than an indirect system
  • Less chance of water contamination
  • As a result, safer drinking water
  • Only downside is more noise and no water when mains pressure is struggling

How do I cut off the water?

Kitchen Sink

Knowing how to cut off the water is fairly straightforward, as long as you know how and where it’s located. Again giving you just the plumbing basics here, you’ll find it under or near the kitchen sink. You literally then just turn it off by turning it in a clockwise direction. If there are two taps there, one won’t work, so see which one turns the water off. These stopcocks can get a bit stiff over time, but it’s nothing that a bit of WD40 won’t sort.

What do I need to know about water pressure?

Imagine getting into the shower, or going to wash your hands and there’s only a dribble of water? That’s all to do with water pressure and can be pretty frustrating. If the pressure is too low, that’s when this happens, whereas water pressure that’s too high can go everywhere and even cause damage.

You can buy a pressure gauge to test that pressure, as this will identify if the problem is localised, or affecting the whole house. The water in a house would normally be 40-45 pounds per square inch (psi). However, it’s always better to call in a professional to help deal with any problems with water pressure and avoid the problem getting worse.

Are small leaks a problem?

Small leaks can be a pain, when you’re talking things such as a dripping tap or running toilet, especially at night when all is quiet. But not only that, over time it can end up costing you quite a bit of money in wasted water, not to mention the marks on your enamel that a constant drip can create. When the problem is a small one, it’s well worth getting it fixed before it turns into a larger, more expensive issue. After all, small leaks could only take something as a tiny washer or valve to get it fixed. Again, call out a Leicester plumber to solve the issue as soon as you know there is one.

Testing for leaks

If high water bills are becoming a nightmare and you aren’t really sure why, then it’s worth checking to see if there is a leak anywhere. After all, hidden leaks can not only cost you, but also lead to nasty issues such as damp. Believe it or not, testing for a leak can be fairly straightforward and part of the plumbing basics, because all you need to do is take a meter reading, uncouple appliances that use water from the mains, leave it like that overnight and then see if the meter has changed in the morning. If it has, you have a leak and need to call in a plumber to get it fixed.

What’s your responsibility?


When you know the plumbing basics, it means looking after your water systems will seem much more achievable. Remember, you are responsible for the water supply and drainage within the boundary of your property. This includes the supply line, pipes, water that comes in and drainage from the property.

Importance of plumbing maintenance 

Taking care of your plumbing and practising good maintenance is an excellent way to stop big bills from cropping up further down the line. In addition, getting appliances, such as your boiler, serviced regularly is sensible too. If you need any help with your heating or plumbing, get in touch with a member of the Taylor Pickering team today.