The Basics:

The home plumbing system is a collection of pipes, valves, and plumbing fixtures.  This system serves two primary purposes. 

  1. To transport potable water from the municipal main or drinking water well, up to the home for consumption and use. This water is used for drinking, bathing, utilities, etc. 

  2. To transport unwanted waste (such as sewage and graywater) out of the home to the municipal sanitary pipe.  This is commonly referred to as drainage, waste and vent (DWV) and consists of all the homes pipes installed to transport the waste out of the home. 

Tapped into the home plumbing pipe network are also vertical pipes extend upwards to the roof.  These are vent pipes and their purpose is important because they balance out the pressure in the system.  Basically, without the vent pipes, the installed P-traps would not work successfully, and as a result siphanoge (reverse water flow) or allow sewer gases into the home.

The photo on the top right show the compartment housing for the main water supply shut-off.  In California, you will typically find these next to the street curb. 

The illustration on the bottom right shows the parts of a common P-trap. These are the PVC plastic devices under the sinks. The pipe always hold water in the curved portion of the pipe (water is always present even with the faucet shut off).  The purpose is to block gases and prevent backflow.  The P-traps need proper venting to work properly. 

Meter Box for Main Water Supply Shut-off Valve
Typical P-trap
On The Inspection:

On the inspection, we will located and inspect the main shut-off valves, which includes both the water supply shut-off valve and the main fuel supply shut-off valve.  The heating equipment (water heater, boiler, etc) is also inspected as well as the associated components - venting connections, temperature/pressure-relief (TPR) valves, and any bracing that be supporting the heating equipment.  Just as we check for air flow with the HVAC - we will inspect the faucet fixtures for functionality and flow. Other plumbing features typically observed include toilet and kitchen waste disposal operations, tubs and showers, vent system, and sump pumps if present.

The report will provide more information on the components used in the plumbing system, make appropriate recommendations, and discuss any deficiencies observed with the plumbing functionality or its components.

Typical Residential Water Heater
Tips For Home Owners:
  • Become friends with your water main shut-off, which is normally located in the basement near the water heater or is in the meter box, outside the home, near the street curb.  The valve to shut the water off will most likely require a shut-off key, which can be purchased at a hardware store, Home Depot, Lowes, or Menards.  It is very important to learn how to do this incase of pipe bursts, or you need to do major plumbing repairs to the home. 

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Open Water Main Meter Box