What Is Plumbing?

Plumbing is a system of pipes and fixtures that conveys water for many uses. It includes the distribution of potable water and the removal of waste.

A plumbing diagram illustrates a house’s pipes and drains. You can easily draw a plumbing plan using the official symbols that Edraw Max supports. For more information, click the Learn More to proceed.

Pipes are the foundation of any piping system. They’re the tubes that convey fluids, whether it be fresh water into a home or waste water out to the sewer system. They can be made of a variety of materials depending on the application, but are always hollow and cylindrical with one or more ports at either end.

For example, copper pipes can withstand high amounts of pressure and are usually found running through walls to transfer water from fixtures or from the main line into a home. On the other hand, plastic pipes like PVC can also withstand high water pressure and are commonly used in residential plumbing applications such as fixture drain lines or water supply lines.

Other types of pipes include ductile iron, galvanized steel and concrete. Cast iron is often used in industrial settings as well as for water and wastewater pipes because of its ability to withstand corrosion. PVC is commonly found in homes and can handle both hot and cold temperatures and is durable enough for outdoor use.

Plastic pipes are extruded and can be fabricated in one of three forms. Solid wall piping uses a single material to form the entire cylinder, while structural wall piping alters the extruded tube’s shape to produce desirable characteristics such as increased load-bearing capability, which is common in corrugated pipe. Barrier pipe utilizes lining materials to increase the pipe’s resistance to incursion, which is useful for pipes that carry corrosive fluids.

Couplings are another type of pipe fitting that connects two pipes together. They come in different sizes and can be fabricated from a variety of materials including acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS plastic), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC) as well as copper. Couplings can be designed as regular couplings or slip couplings. A regular coupling has a small ridge or stop internally that prevents the over-insertion of one pipe segment into the other, which would create an unreliable connection.


Fittings manipulate the conveyance of fluids (water for potable and irrigational uses, gases, oil, waste, liquid or gaseous chemicals) in plumbing systems. They are designed to be compatible with the piping system materials, the fluids being transported, the temperature and pressure within the system, and other environmental factors. The bodies of fittings are typically made of the same base material as the pipe or tubing being connected to them. They are also rated for their fire resistance, earthquake resilience, mechanical ruggedness and theft-resistance.

Fittings can be classified as either flanged or sweated. Flanged fittings have sealant on the inside of the flange that makes contact with the pipe or tubing, creating a watertight connection without the need for soldering. Sweated fittings have a threaded hole on one end that can be screwed into a corresponding thread on the other end of the pipe or tubing. Sweated fittings are more common in residential drain and sewer piping systems than flanged fittings, because they can be easily removed for cleaning and maintenance.

A reducer, on the other hand, decreases the size of a pipe or tube from a larger to a smaller diameter. This change may be required to meet hydraulic flow requirements or to accommodate different piping system materials. A reducer’s body is usually concentric and designed to maintain the center of gravity of the reduced section of piping.

Other common fittings include tees, cross-shaped and elbows. They are used to connect pipes of varying sizes and angles. They also allow hoses, nozzles and other components to be easily attached to the core piping system, if they have the correct ends. Adapters, which bridge between different standard measurements, are also used. Examples of these are T-shaped and cross-shaped adapters that connect ORB ends to JIC ends, or simple two-ended components that lead male-to-male connections. Cleanouts, which are essential for drain maintenance and clearing, are also common. These are often located at the end of every branch in a drain and sewer system, at the bottom of each plumbing fixture stack and outside the building.


From toilets and showers to sinks and bathtubs, plumbing fixtures play a crucial role in the comfort and functionality of living spaces. They are a key part of hygiene and sanitation, and their design directly impacts water usage and utility costs. For these reasons, it is important to understand the different types and functions of plumbing fixtures before installing, upgrading or replacing them.

Essentially, plumbing fixtures are devices that receive waste and freshwater from pipes and direct them into sanitary drainage systems. They are typically installed on the walls or floors of living and working spaces, so they are easily accessed for maintenance, repair or replacement. They are also usually designed for long-term use and exposed to frequent contact with water, so they are often made of durable materials such as porcelain, fiberglass, marble, copper and stainless steel. They may be equipped with drains, faucets, shower heads or stoppers, depending on the type of fixture.

There are many things to consider when choosing plumbing fixtures, including ease of use and maintenance, material durability and aesthetics. Additionally, it is a good idea to look for fixtures that are low-flow or energy-efficient, as these will help to reduce water consumption and utility bills.

As a newcomer to the plumbing industry, it can be challenging to grasp all of the various terms and concepts that are associated with pipes, fittings and fixtures. However, it is essential to have a thorough understanding of these fundamental aspects of plumbing in order to provide efficient and reliable services to clients. To assist with this, we have compiled a guide to the different types of fixtures and their associated functions. Here, we will take a closer look at the difference between fixtures and fittings, as well as the most common types of plumbing fixtures.


Plumbing comprises a network of pipes, fixtures, and valves that transport fluids (typically water) to and from various fixtures within buildings or structures. Plumbers install, repair, and maintain these systems to ensure they function properly. This is an important job because it ensures that people have access to clean drinking water and can remove waste in a safe manner.

The plumbing industry is regulated in most countries to ensure the safety of citizens and the environment. Plumbers must adhere to strict building codes when installing or repairing plumbing fixtures. For example, the National Building Code of Canada specifies standards for plumbing materials and fittings. Individual provinces or territories may also have their own regulations. These regulations typically specify minimum pipe sizes and wall thicknesses, along with the maximum pressure ratings for different components.

In addition to ensuring that pipes are installed correctly, plumbers must ensure the correct fittings are used. This is particularly important for sanitary plumbing systems, where cross-contamination can be very dangerous. In many cases, the right fitting can reduce or even eliminate problems associated with mismatched or outdated parts. For instance, modern PEX tubing has gained popularity because it is easier to work with than traditional copper piping and can withstand a higher temperature range.

Other important factors to consider when choosing fittings include cost, material quality, and durability. For instance, some fittings may be more difficult to work with than others, such as those that require soldering. In these cases, it is crucial to find a skilled plumber with experience working with these types of fittings. Similarly, it is important to choose the right tools for the job. For example, using a pipe-fitting finder can help ensure that the outside diameter of the pipe is measured accurately, which can prevent mismatched fittings and other issues.


Plumbing is a complex system that transports fluids, primarily water, in and out of buildings and structures. It involves pipes, fixtures, and fittings that supply clean water and remove wastewater. It is a vital infrastructure that supports sanitary conditions, food production, and other essential functions. Proper maintenance is necessary to ensure a smooth operation of this system. Regular inspections can identify issues and help prevent them from escalating into expensive repairs. In addition, plumbing maintenance can include modernizing pipes and fixtures to improve efficiency and reduce costs.

A reliable plumbing service can inspect, repair, and maintain all components of a building’s plumbing systems. This includes assessing the condition of pipes, checking for leaks, and cleaning drains. In addition, plumbing services can provide emergency plumbing assistance when needed. They can also advise clients on how to maintain their plumbing systems between professional visits.

The plumbing industry is regulated by various government agencies to ensure safety and quality. Plumbers must pass a licensing exam and obtain a certification to practice their trade. They must also adhere to local and national building codes when installing or repairing plumbing fixtures. These codes are designed to protect consumers from unsafe practices and promote environmental conservation.

Leaking faucets, clogged drains, and low water pressure are just a few of the many issues that can arise from poor plumbing maintenance. These problems can lead to costly repairs and inconvenient disruptions to daily life. Preventative plumbing maintenance can reduce these problems and help homeowners and business owners save money. For example, a simple fix like a dripping faucet can significantly reduce water waste and lower utility bills. Other examples of cost-saving maintenance include installing water flow meters and maintaining proper fixture ratios.