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From Drain to Sewer

Where does my sewage/water go?

Our waste water and sewage, thankfully, disappears in a swift and sanitary manner, to never be dealt with again. Every resident relies on a plumbing system, and all you really need to get the most out of your plumbing is a basic understanding.

The plumbing system works two miracles for us, and thus is comprised of two separate systems:

This post is about the drain/vent system disposes of waste water and sewage.

The distribution/supply system, which distributes your supply of clean water to the various faucets and appliances in your house, was covered here. [link to previous post “From meter to tap”]

Drain/Vent System

The drain/vent system eliminates our direct contact with waste water, sewage and their accompanying gasses, disposing of it safely, swiftly and cleanly. As a homeowner, responding to the inevitable threats against your drain/vent system falls to you. Whether you’re communicating with a professional plumber or attempting basic troubleshooting, understanding how your waste is moved along gives you the upper hand in the ongoing battle.

Points of Interest:

The drain

The P-trap

The drain/vent stack

The main drain line

Clean out fittings

Moving Waste Towards the End Goal

Your plumbing waste is headed for either the public sewer system or your residential septic system. It gets there throughthe main drain line, a horizontal 3-4 inch diameter pipe on a gradual grade below your floor. All other drain pipes direct plumbing waste to this one, through a drain/vent stack, a vertical pipe of similar diameter.

Your waste runs down the drain, through the trap (which is directly underneath), then horizontally over until it meets the drain/vent stack. At this point, dangerous/unpleasant gasses can rise up the stack and escape through the roof to the outdoors. The liquid and solid waste, meanwhile, drops to the bottom end of the stack into the main drain line.

The two components that concern homeowners are both points from which you can attack a clogged drain, the trap and the clean out fitting.

Clean outs are installed in strategic locations on all the pipes in your drain system, typically near bends, elbows and couplings. Also find them spaced out periodically down long straight stretches of pipe.

There is a trap installed at every drain. On sinks, they are accessible inside the vanity. Its the 180 degree turn in the pipe. Be careful when opening them up. They’re purpose is to trap water in the bend, which, in turn, traps gas in the pipes, so you don’t have to smell it or, worse, breath it in the comfort of your home.

Mapping Your Drain System

Knowing which direction your drain pipes run is essential in dealing with backed up drains. You can trace their path by locating your septic system or sewer tie-in, following the main drain up to the main drain/vent stack, and considering which direction your drain pipes need to run to meet the stack.

Bear in mind that larger homes may have secondary drain/vent stacks, which gather drainage from one area to transport it across to the main stack, or down to the main drain line. Identify clean-outs as you trace your network of pipes.

Understanding the design and function positions you to respond to your plumbing problems in the most practical way. It also helps you to effectively communicate about your plumbing needs with your local plumbing experts, so you can get exactly what you need.

GPS strives to be a reliable, helpful source for expertise and plumbing projects. Consult Mike@ 425 458 8548 regarding distribution lines, drain lines, water heaters, and sewer/septic lines.

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