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Talk the Trade – Common Plumbing Terms

Posted in Blog by Blair
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Like most professions, plumbers are known for using lingo, acronyms and plumbing “terms”. If you are a homeowner, it’s to your advantage to understand key terminology related to plumbing. Listed below are common terms used by Plumbers. Understanding these basic terms will help you with your next trip to the hardware store or in the event you have Superior Plumbing in your home !



Standing for Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (thank goodness for this acronym), a black, rough plastic piping used in drainage

Access panel

Opening in a wall, floor or ceiling that allows plumbing or electrical service


Fitting that joins pipes together

Air Gap

The path of the water flow; for example, the distance from a faucet to a drain

“A” valve

Shuts off gas manually

Back vent

One of two vents that are part of a plumbing fixture

Backflow Preventer

Mechanical plumbing devices installed in a plumbing system to prevent water from flowing backward in the system.

Ball joint 

Sphere-shaped part of a joint that rests in a socket

Branch Drain

Drain that leads to the main drainage line of a plumbing system

Circuit Vent

In drainage systems, this vent runs from the final traps of a horizontal drain line to the primary stack of vents


One of the more helpful common plumbing terms when troubleshooting, a plug that is used to access the pipe in order to clear an obstruction

Closet Auger

Tool that removes toilet obstructions


Type of fitting with two female ends


Standing for Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride, this rough piping is used in water supply systems


Standing for polybutylene, a type of plastic tubing used for water systems in some parts of the country


Cross-linked polyethylene. PEX tubing, is commonly used for water supply lines and radiant floor heat systems.

Plumber’s putty 

Soft substance used to seal joints and fixture bases


Standing for Polyvinyl Vhloride and one of the more common plumbing terms, referring to white piping used in many home plumbing capacities


Fitting that connects one pipe to another that is smaller


Installation phase that covers waste and vent lines, drains and water

Shutoff Valve

Most commonly refers to the shut-off valve located under sinks and toilets. Valves are also installed on branch lines and alongside the meter.


Slang for soldering.

T&P Valve

Temperature and pressure valve. A valve that opens to release excess pressure and temperature in a system.

Tee Fitting

Fittings that allow pipes to be joined at a 90-degree angle. Tee-fittings for drain systems use a sweeping bend to prevent blockage. See Sweep.


A temperature control device, typically located on an inside wall that is used to set and maintain a desired room temperature


A fitting or portion of a fixture that, when properly vented, holds water to prevent entry of sewer gases.


A device that regulates the flow of water.

Vent Stack

The upper portion of the soil stack above the topmost fixture through which gases and odors escape.

For a full lists of terms and for all your plumbing needs call Blair – Superior plumbing.

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