This glossary will help you understand commonly used terms in the plumbing industry:

ABS: Aristocraft Bristone Styrine or ABS is a strong black plastic pipe used for drain, waste and vent lines.

Access Panel: An opening in the wall just next to the fixture that allows easy access to pipes and/or wires.

Adaptor: A fitting that joins different types of pipes together.

Aerator: A device fixed into the end of a faucet spout that mixes air into flowing water, and controls flow to reduce splashing.

Air Lock: Blockage in the flow of liquid, especially on the suction side of a pump caused by an air bubble in the line.

Anode Rod: A sacrificial rod installed in a water heater that protects the tank from rust, helping to extend the life of the tank.

Anti-Siphon: A device that checks the backflow of liquid into a system. Used on sprinkler systems to prevent water from trickling back into the supply that is feeding it.

Backflow: Water that is flowing back into the main clean water supply.

Backflow Preventer: A mechanism designed to stop backflow.

Backwater Valve: Sewer line valve that prevents sewage from flowing back into the house.

Ball Check Valve: A valve that uses a ball to seal against a seat to stop flow in one direction.

Basin Wrench: A wrench with a long handle with jaws mounted on a swivel that allows the jaws to reach and handle nuts to fasten faucets to a previously installed sink.

Ballcock: A device that regulates the water flow between supply pipes and the toilet.

Blowbag: A drain cleaning device consisting of a rubber bladder with a hose fitting on one end and a nozzle on the other.

Catch Basin: Large underground container, with a grate on the top, for collection of storm water run-off. It collects debris, and prevents it from polluting streams and lakes.

Check Valve: A type of backflow preventer installed in a pipe run that forces water to flow in only one direction.

Cistern: Rainwater storage tank, usually underground.

Cleanout Plug: A plug in a trap or drain pipe that helps clear an obstruction.

Dip Tube: Tube inside the water heater that sends cold water to the bottom of the tank.

Direct Tap: Clamping device that helps a branch line to be drilled and tapped off a main line.

Discharge Tube: Outlet tube that connects a disposer or sump pump to the drain line.

Effluent: Septic system liquid waste.

Expansion Tank: A tank designed to absorb excess pressure due to thermal expansion.

French Drain: A covered ditch containing a layer of fitted or loose stone.

Floor Flange: A fitting that connects a toilet to a floor drain.

Flux: Paste applied to copper pipes and fittings before soldering to help the fusion process and prevent oxidation.

Footprint: The area of floor space taken up by a water heater or other appliance.

Gas Cock: Plug valve installed in the main gas line and an appliance.

Gas Control: Device used to regulate gas pressure on a water heater.

Gate: A device that controls the flow in a pipe, or tunnel.

Hydronic: System of forced hot water.

Hose Bibb: An outdoor faucet used to supply water to washing machines.

Leach Field: Porous soil area, through which septic tank filter lines run, emptying the treated waste.

Leader: Pipe carrying rainwater to the ground or sewer.

Male Threads: Threads on the outside of pipes and fittings.

Packing Nut: A nut that holds the stem of a faucet in position and holds the packing material.

Pressure Tank: Device used to pump water from a well.

Revent: Pipe installed specifically to vent a fixture trap.

Rough-In: Installation of the drain, waste, vent, and supply lines in a structure to the proposed location of each fixture.

Sanitary Sewer: House drain that carries waste water from the house to a sewer system or septic tank.

Straight Cross: A type of fitting that connects four pipes of the same diameter.

Tailpiece: Section of pipe that runs between a fixture outlet and the trap.

T & P Valve: Refers to temperature & pressure relief valve. A safety device used to expel excess pressure or heat from inside a tank.

Tail Pipe: A pipe added below the jet assembly, in a weak well application.

Usable Storage: Percentage of hot water that can be drawn from a water tank before the temperature drops to a point that it is no longer considered hot.

Vacuum Breaker: An anti-siphon device that prevents the backflow of contaminated water into the main water supply system.