How Does Plumbing Work?

illustration of how water lines and plumbing works

Last time on the blog we dialed it back and talked about the basic plumber services available here at Economy Plumbing Service LLC. This time we’re going to stick in that angle of bigger picture discussion and answer a question many might have but feel a bit silly to ask: just how does plumbing work? Curious? Read more, we’ll give you a basic rundown of this wonderful system.

How Does Plumbing Work

Plumbing works on a few different laws of nature. Gravity, pressure, the natural movement of water. It leverages those forces to direct the water where we want it to go. Let’s simplify it even further.

Think of a giant hose. This is your city’s utility lines. The hose is turned on and water flows out the end. But lets say the end of it is blocked, like a spray nozzle is added to the hose. The water stops flowing but the hose stays full right? That’s because of water pressure. Now imagine a hundred small hoses all with faucets, all running from that giant hose. These are the plumbing systems in your neighborhood. With the water to the giant hose still turned on, those small hoses all fill up and are ready to be used! You open the faucet of the smaller hose and water comes out, pushed out from the small hose which is pushed out from the giant hose.

That’s all because of pressure. That pressure is built sometimes by gravity, by having water towers higher up, the water wants to shoot down, creating that pressure down the pipes and lines. Of course, pumps can also be used to move water where gravity and pressure alone don’t do that job.


The Two Plumbing Subsystems

Plumbing is made up of two different water systems. One to bring freshwater in, the other to take away wastewater.  The pressure we talked about is only present in the freshwater system. That’s what allows clean water to go up through walls, around corners, move upstairs and get wherever else you need it to. When the freshwater is used it then enters the drainage systems.

Drainage systems do not depend on the pressure as the freshwater (or supply) system does. Instead, wastewater leaves your home through drainage pipes that are angled downward, allowing gravity to get to work and pull the water (and waste) down with it! There are a few more pieces involved in drain lines to make sure everything works like it out to including traps, vents, and cleanouts. They help the wastewater flow correctly, as well as create seals with water to prevent gas or smells from developing.


Let’s lay it all out in a sort of step by step process.

  1. Water comes through the city utility supply lines via pressure.
  2. The water moves through the supply lines into your home pipes and fixtures.
  3. The water is used, flowing from the fixtures to fill sinks, basins, water heaters, etc.
  4. The used water drains down the sinks and drains into drain lines, running away from your home (thanks gravity!)
  5. The wastewater runs to treatment plants where it is processed and made somewhat usable again.

Where Does Our Clean Water Come From? 

The end of that step by step process might have made you a little scared. ‘The wastewater does what now?’ Don’t worry! Here in Tucson our clean water comes from groundwater, specifically two sources: local precipitation and the Colorado River. That water moves from the Colorado River through the Central Arizona Project canal, some 335 miles from Lake Havasu to just past Tuscon.

Alright, let’s wrap it up here. We hope this little bit has helped you understand how plumbing works.  Luckily for you, if you’re not a plumber you can say ‘Ah forget it!’ and give us experts a call whenever you need the help!

If water goes through it or to it, we do it!

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