What is Residential Plumbing
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Plumbing 10/3/18

What is Residential Plumbing

Residential plumbing covers a vast array of residential services for the home. From the water and drain lines to natural and propane gas, wall heating systems, water heaters, and every fixture in the home, plumbers train for years to be able to provide service and repair residential plumbing systems.

Fresh Water

Fresh water lines are one of the most common aspects of residential plumbing. When the plumbing systems are installed and maintained properly, homeowners enjoy water coming into their home so it is available from every fixture, when they need it. Water lines provide potable (potable definition) water for showering and bathing, cooking, drinking, cleaning, and whatever other water needs homeowners may find a use for.

But, when something goes wrong, it can be a headache for homeowners – or a major costly repair. Some of the freshwater plumbing repairs include:

Slab Leaks

Slab leaks are leaks in the pressurized water lines under the slab foundation. Slab leaks are caused by a number of things, but mostly the age of the pipe or improper installation. Over time, as hot water runs through copper piping, the pipe expands and contracts, rubbing against the foundation. Over time, this can cause wear in the pipe and small pinhole leaks.

Some common signs of a slab leak are warm floors, the sound of running water, or signs of water along baseboards.

Burst angle stops

One of the most common causes of flooded homes are burst water shut off valves (angle stops). Angle stops are located at every sink and toilet, and can individually shut off the water supply to those fixtures. However, as constant pressurized water impacts them, these can wear over time. Plumbers recommend changing angel stops every five to seven years and checking for corrosion on a monthly basis. Homeowners should also check for sign of water before attempting to turn the angle stop.  If it is difficult, homeowners should proceed with caution.

Running toilets

Running toilets that are left unchecked can cause a lot of wasted water. Toilets that are leaking inside or constantly running are usually easy to determine. Homeowners can check the water levels in the bowl and tank and listen for the sound of trickling or running water. Most often, it is a worn flapper that can be easily changed by the homeowner for a minimal cost.

Broken fixtures

Leaky and broken fixtures are also a residential plumbing problem that can happen over time. In fact, most freshwater plumbing problems come about because of the wear on fixtures from constant pressure.

Water Pressure and PRV

Because of constant water pressure, it is important that homeowners have a working pressure regulating device installed on their home. Often, the city water pressure coming into the home is above the safe PSI of 50-80. If the pressure is high in the home, it poses a risk to all freshwater systems and can cause leaks, burst fixtures and water heaters leading to floods.

Pressure regulating devices are installed at the home and adjust the pressure from the city distribution before it comes into the home. Plumbers recommend a PSI at 75 for the best performance and safe pressure.

Water Heaters

Water heaters come in a tank and tankless variety. The function of both is to provide hot water to the home. The biggest difference between a tankless and a tank is the storage of water. Tank water heaters have a continual storage of between 30 and 100 (sometimes larger in commercial spaces). The water is continually heated inside of the tank to maintain a certain temperature to be ready when needed.

Tankless water heaters heat the water as it is used and at any time, less than two cups of water are in the tank. Tankless water heaters are much more efficient and also provide endless hot water. (link to tankless versus tank article)


Something that homeowners often don’t know is that plumbers are trained to perform plumbing problems such as gas line leak detection, installation, and repair. There are many safety codes form the Uniform Plumbing Code that requires licensed plumbers to perform major repairs as all gas line services should be permitted and inspected by the city.

Homeowners that have a gas leak (signs of gas leak link) should take all safety measures and contact a licensed professional plumber to perform detection and repair to restore services.

Wall Heaters

Although plumbers do not service and repair forced air systems, many San Diego homes come equipped with wall or floor style heating and plumbers can work on these systems. Most floor heating systems in need of repair should be replaced with a wall style, but both style heating systems are essentially gas lines and proper venting, both services for residential plumbing professionals.


Residential plumbing would not be complete without proper drainage. Inside the home, all kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry services should have a drain line. Even forced air heating & air conditioning has a condensate drain line that connects to an exterior or interior drain line.

Drain clogs are never fun, and while some small clogs can be cleared by homeowners, licensed plumbers should be called for all major clogs and overflows.

Shower clogs are often caused by excess hair in the drain. Homeowners can install mesh screens on the drain to catch hair to prevent shower and tub clogs. Small hair drain tools can be purchased at home stores and are easy to use to get hair that is close to the drain.

Kitchen sinks are often clogged by food items or excess grease buildup. Homeowners can prevent clogs by ensuring no food items are put down the drain, even with a disposal, and degreasing the line with a degreasing soap and hot water once a month.

Toilet backups can also be handled by homeowners when it is a small clog in the toilet itself. Homeowners should use a bell-shaped plunger and be careful to not use too much pressure, as that might break the seal of the toilet causing future leaking. If the toilet and other drains are clogged, or homeowners find themselves dealing with contact backups, it could be a larger problem with the main sewer line that all inside drains drain into. These problems require a specialized drain service by a licensed professional. Plumber.


Some plumbers work on some irrigation lines. Typically, if it is a connection with the irrigation line, it falls under residential plumbing. Larger issues with the irrigation, or irrigation heads generally require a landscaping professional. However, it is always a good idea for homeowners to contact their plumber for a free quote to determine if they work on a specific irrigation problem.

When Do You Call a Residential Plumber?

With residential plumbing, homeowners enjoy safe drinking water and clear drains, but many other home services are part of a residential plumbing service. Plumbers work on gas lines, small and large fixtures, water lines in the ground and in the wall, but also so much more.

Plumbers service the water lines going to the refrigeration, clogged dishwasher drains, leaks in the ceiling and upgrading piping that is not leaking. Residential plumbers do just about everything, so when do you call a plumber?

Call a plumber when:

You notice signs of water on the floor that cannot be explained

Hear running water even when fixtures are not being used

When you smell gas (after safely leaving the home)

When you have a clogged drain

For dripping faucets and running toilets

When you need a new wall heater or service on your existing wall heater

Upgrading from a tank to a tankless water heater, or a leaking water heater

For your annual plumbing maintenance

Plumbing Maintenance

Because residential plumbing encompasses so many aspects, homeowners should invest in an annual plumbing maintenance visit with a licensed professional. During annual maintenance, plumbers can assess possible leaks and make recommendations to ensure all freshwater lines are in working condition, test drain lines to determine if there might be a potential issue, and check all the shut-off valves and toilets in the home.

By regularly assessing the plumbing in the home, homeowners can stay ahead of potential problems and save themselves from costly plumbing repairs or surprise floods.

At Bill Howe Plumbing, our licensed professionals are licensed and trained for all residential plumbing in the home, from gas lines to drain clogs, from the pipes in the floor to the pipes in the ceiling, over 38 years of experience means customers will receive the very best in service and craftsmanship.

For emergency services or a general check up on your home’s plumbing, call the professionals at Bill Howe, 1-800-Bill Howe (245-5469).


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