A Plumber’s Dictionary

We get a lot of interesting looks when we use some of our “official language” on the job. Plumbing vocabulary is its own strange, but helpful dictionary. So we’ve picked some of our favorite odd and funny terms and defined them to help clear the air (and the drain) a bit.

Backflow: A backflow device is used to protect Water Supplies from pollution and contamination. Backflow can be caused by both pressure and the public drinking water system when contamination rises and presses against the supply line.

Blowbag: No, it’s not the car safety checklist either… a blowbag is the rubber bladder that attaches to a hose and uses water pressure to clear drains. You can try these in situations that drain snakes may not work. For instance, a common use is on greasy or gluey globs. 

Ball Check Valve – This is a type of backflow preventer that uses a ball to seal the valve. It is installed so that water is allowed to flow in one direction only.

Lock Nut: Also known as a locking nut, prevailing torque nut, stiff nut, or elastic stop nut, lock nuts do not readily loosen when placed on bolts. They also resist loosening under vibration and torque.

Reamer: Plumbers use reamers to cut circular holes into piping, to prepare it for attachment to other materials. Precision reamers can also bore into previously existing holes, and enlarge them without cutting through.

Pipe Dope: This is a pipe sealing compound used to create leak-proof pipes and tightly pressure-sealed joints. Pipe dope can also prevent seizing of the parts, which can later lead to issues in disassembly.

Sweating Pipe: Ok fine, sometimes it’s our team, too. But sweating pipes is actually a process of soldering pipes together to find a leak-free connection.

Male Threads into Female Fittings: Yes. Our plumbing tools have genders. Each half of a pair of mating connectors or fasteners is conventionally assigned the designation of male or female. The “female” connector is generally a receptacle that receives and holds the “male” connector. On occasion, the terms “male” and “female” are respectively referred to at the beginning, rather than the end, of the abbreviated designation. For example: MIPT denotes Male Iron Pipe Thread; FIPT denotes Female Iron Pipe Thread.

Hermaphroditic Fitting: Gender neutrality at its finest. Unlike male or female fittings, the hermaphroditic parts couple together without threads or fittings. Many times, these are identical parts that fit together without screws or additional attachments.

Snake: Ahh, the good ole’ drain snake. This is a more common tool that anyone can adopt into their own home. This is inserted into pipes to clear clogs and let the water flow again freely.

Plumber’s terms can certainly cause a laugh, but at the end of the day, they get the job done! Call Norfolk Plumbing to get your job done!

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