Residential plumbing is a largely hidden system, working tirelessly out of sight to deliver fresh water and carry away what we no longer need. We see the faucets, the showerheads, the toilets and the electric hot water tank, but the rest is out of sight and out of mind. By the time the plumber has left, the supply lines, valves and drains have mostly disappeared behind walls and under floors, never to surface again unless there’s a problem.
Assembling this network of interconnected parts takes skill and practice as well as the right parts and pieces. The basics are simple: supply lines of copper or plastic, drain lines, and a number of fixtures for kitchens, bathrooms, laundries. The move toward greater energy efficiency in our homes has introduced some new players: drain water heat recovery technology that captures wasted heat in discarded shower water, low-flow faucets and toilets that save water, recirculation systems that eliminate long waits for hot water in the bathroom or kitchen.
Plumbers are the masters of this hidden kingdom. But most builders, and many homeowners, can handle spot repairs when a plumber isn’t readily available. It makes sense to know how to install a toilet, replace a kitchen faucet, or repair a damaged sink drain. What self-respecting homeowner would want to call in a plumber over the weekend (at double or triple time) when a toilet valve stuck or a kitchen faucet wouldn’t stop dripping?
Fine Homebuilding’s library of articles and videos covers the building blocks of modern plumbing systems and the many details that add up to a truly trouble-free installation. Want to pick exactly the right sink, faucet or toilet? This is a great place to start your search.