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Home Water System Basics

Home Water System Basics

Learn About The Major Components And Equipment

When it comes to your home’s plumbing and water system, you’re probably pretty familiar with those items which are in plain view, such as your your pipes, drains and fixtures (sinks, toilets, tubs, showers, faucets etc.). But what about those components that are down in your basement or working quietly in the background or out of sight? They’re just as important. Here is a quick overview of some of the other major components and equipment that make up your home’s water system.

Tank Water Heater

This is the most common type of hot water heater found in homes today. Operating on either electricity or gas, tank heaters are made from copper, stone, glass, aluminum or galvanized steel. The tank’s material affects function, cost of operation, and energy efficiency. Metal tanks can rust over time, so it’s wise to invest in a magnesium coated rod, which hangs down into the tank and prevents corrosion. To maintain a tank heater, water should be drained at least once a year so sediment can be cleared out and the interior of the tank can be inspected for damage.

Tankless Water Heater

An emerging trend in water heating is the tankless heater. Rather than storing hot water in a tank, these units attach directly to your home’s plumbing and heat water on demand. As water moves through the pipes the tankless heater warms it so you get hot water only when you need it. Tankless heaters are run by either gas or electricity and are generally more energy-efficient and cheaper to operate than tank heaters. However, tankless heaters cost more up front. Large units are installed where water comes into the house, while smaller units are installed where water is used.

Sump Pump

Sump pumps are used to get rid of ground water that may collect around a home’s foundation or in basements that sit below the water line. There are two main types of sump pump — submersible or pedestal. Submersible sump pumps have a motor and pump encased as a single unit that rests in a pit or shallow well below the ground. Pedestal pumps have a motor that sits above the water line. Regardless of the type of pump you have in your home, your basement should have drain tiles that direct water into the sump.

All-Purpose Pumps

These lightweight pumps are most commonly used by boaters, campers and homeowners to drain water from flooded basements or low spots after heavy rain. Battery-operated pumps can be hooked up to a car or other vehicle, while other types of pumps run on standard household electricity.

Septic Tank

Made of any one of a number of materials, septic tanks collect and hold sewage as it decomposes. Septic tanks should be matched to the size of your home to ensure adequate space and prevent back-up or malfunction. Tanks must be pumped and cleaned out regularly, once every two years or so, but should be inspected more frequently, about every 18 months. A certified professional can take a look at your septic tank to make sure the sludge level is not excessive and will notify you of any cracks or leaks in the tank that could cause problems. Most experts recommend using some kind of enzymatic additive or septic cleaner once a month to boost bacteria levels and speed decomposition of waste inside the tank. These cleaners will help keep waste levels manageable so that sludge doesn’t back up into pipes or block drainage lines.

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