Plumbing Terms You Need to Know Before Calling a Plumber

The good news? You don’t need to know how to fix a clogged toilet or a leaky faucet to talk with your plumber. But, a little understanding goes a long way in getting your plumbing problem fixed fast. There are an endless amount of plumbing terms out there, but you’ll only need to know a select few to communicate knowledgeably with your plumber. Here are the most common terms a plumber will most likely check, when diagnosing a problem:

On the Toilet

Flapper valve: The rubbery plug at the bottom of the toilet tank, that lifts up to allow the water to escape the tank and flood your bowl during a flush.

Trip lever: The handle on your toilet that lifts the flapper valve, which allows water to enter the bowl.

Around the Pipes

Angle stop: This valve is used to cut off a water supply to an appliance or fixture. You can usually see this device at the rear of your toilet— it looks like an oblong-shaped knob you can turn.

Clean-out plug: This circular plug usually has a square knob on its face and is the access point to the pipes that allow a plumber to clear out a clog.

Common Terms for Plumbing Problems

Clogged drains: When the water in your sink, toilet, or bathtub fails to drain or takes all night to empty, there’s probably a clog somewhere in the line.

Dripping fixtures: A leaky faucet can cause a huge spike in utility bills. You’ll see the faucet dripping water even after you’ve shut off your fixture.

Water hammer: A rumbling noise or vibration that occurs when the water is turned on or off, due to a surge of pressure in the line.

Other Plumbing Terms

Gray water: The water that heads into the sewer from bathtubs, showers, and sinks. It shouldn’t be confused with “black water”, which comes from toilets.

Sump pump: If your home has a basement in a humid or wet climate, you’ll often have a sump pump to siphon water out of your basement.