For the vast majority of South Africans plumbing gets no special attention until something goes wrong.

 

Plumbing is an essential part of daily life for everyone but it gets mainly overlooked because plumbing has become extremely reliable in most residential areas. Plumbers should thus be respected and the profession should be honored but you would be hard pressed to find any high school learner with a passion for unblocking drains.

 

plumbing pipes

 

Why Plumbing?

 

The answer…..

Water. Water sustains life in more than one way.

We use water for:

  • Human Consumption
  • Cooking
  • Bathing
  • Washing
  • Waste Removal

Water plays an important part in all the functions mentioned above and plumbing facilitates it all.

 

Beginnings

 

The need for plumbing primarily arose from growing civilizations. Rapidly expanding early civilizations such as the Greeks and Romans ran into the problem of supplying their citizens with a clean and continuous supply of water. The other half of the problem which was and still is extremely critical is the removal of sewerage waste from households.

The latter being the primary cause of health and hygiene problems in that era. The solution would be plumbing even if the term was not coined yet, ever since the first Roman aqueduct and lead pipe systems the field has not looked back.

 

Basic Operation Of Plumbing Systems

Aim

 

Plumbing is essentially a system of pipes, valves, fittings, appliances and safety regulatory devices assembled within a building for the distribution and removal of water.

That sums up the main purpose of plumbing. The actual system may seem simple but the difficulty lies in the design and troubleshooting. Hence Plumbers…..

 

Operation

 

Local Municipality supplies most of the drinking water to residential properties in South Africa. They don’t do this for free though so water meters are installed on all incoming water supply pipes to homes. This water is purified and hopefully deemed safe for human consumption…..

 

water supply tap

 

Split

 

As soon as the water enters the home it splits into essentially hot and cold pipes. Water in the cold pipe will be circulated throughout the house but water in the hot pipe will first pass through the geyser to be heated.

These two pipes will then run to any rooms that need water.

  • Kitchen
  • Bathroom
  • Swimming Pool
  • Toilet
  • Outside Taps etc

Obviously only cold water will be required in some places such as the toilet or swimming pool.

 

Output

 

78% of all the water that enters a household leaves it. The water and waste removal system in homes is largely dependent on gravity unlike the supply which is pressurized.

Thus all waste removal pipes are inclined downwards and traps are installed to prevent unpleasant sewer gases
from entering the home. Upon leaving homes the ‘dirty’ water gets taken to sewerage’s where impurities are removed before the next cycle.

 

The Plumber

 

The humble plumber falls in the middle of all this.

Plumbers are largely responsible for any planning, installation, maintenance and repairs on plumbing systems whether in homes or businesses and public facilities. The importance of the profession needs to be highlighted more in schools and society.