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From meter to tap: Where does my water come from? - blog post image

From meter to tap: Where does my water come from?

The modern residential plumbing system is simple. The necessary pressure is supplied by gravity and the natural tendency of water to fill its container. Pipes provide the pathway. We turn the tap, and we experience a flow of clean water.

The system works two miracles for us, and thus is comprised of two separate systems, the drain/vent system and the supply/distribution system.

The drain/vent system disposes of sewage and waste water. This post covers the supply/distribution system, which distributes your supply of clean water to the various points of use in your home: sinks, showers, appliances.

Components of the supply system

The water at your tap has journeyed from the public water supply, passing through each of these components along its way:

  • The meter
  • The water main
  • Water heater(s)
  • Cold/Hot supply pipes
  • Shut-off valves
  • Supply lines for faucets and appliances
  • Faucets and appliances

Your cold and hot water come to youfrom the pipes in your walls throughtwo supply lines. If you take a look inside your vanity, you’ll see two flexible tubes running from the faucet fitting to the pipes. They can be found at every sink and tub, and at the back of your washer.Hopefully, they’re equipped with their own personal shut off valves, so you can cut off the water supply at the point of use if need be.

Your hot/cold pipes run side-by-side through the walls and floors of your house to thepoints of use, tracing back to the water heater. You’ll find a shut off valve that can cut off pressure to your hot and cold pipes just up the line from here.

The water gets to this point through the main line, which usually comes from the direction of the street. This is where the public water supply pipes are buried.

The meter is installed on the water main to track your consumption of water, andshould be eitheron the side of the house or in a small box in the yard near the property line.

Heating your Water

Water heaters can be a large, upright, cylinder-shaped tank, or a small compact unit known as a tanklessheater.If you have a high demand household, you might have more than one unit. It’s important to know where all of your units are, as the water heater is the point where you’re most likely to need to carry out troubleshooting and maintenance.

Tank units are typically kept in a utility room or basement. The water enters and exits the heating tank through pipes at the top. The insulated tank maintains the temperature setting on the thermostat, using natural gas or 240 volt current to power a burner or heating element.

Tankless units heat water only when its used, so they don’t have a tank. They’re much smaller and may be installed in strategic spots throughout the house, or also may be in the utility room.

What can you do to help your plumbing help you?

Problems with your plumbing supply/distributionsystem are most likely to emerge with your hot water. Some of them you can resolve yourself, like those that call for giving the tank a flush or cleaning the flue. If you find yourself out of your depth with residential plumbing complications, GPS is available to help. We specialize in supply lines, drain lines, septic/sewer, and water heaters.

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