Can You Answer All of These Questions About Basic Plumbing?

By: Torrance Grey
Estimated Completion Time
4 min
If you lose jewelry down a sink, look for it in the ...
Cock
Flapper
Trap
The "trap" is so named because it catches many things that go down a pipe. This includes hair, grease, jewelry and more.
Water main

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Plumbing works like a sink, toilet, shower or bathtub are summed up under the general term ______.
Apparatuses
Appliances
Fixtures
All these things fall under the general heading of "fixtures." You'll see this term a lot in the coming questions.
Closures

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Where is a septic tank usually found?
An attic
A basement
A bathroom
Underground in a yard
A septic tank is never found inside a building. It and its "leach field" are found in yards.

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Freezing temperatures can result in what?
Burst pipes
Water expands when it freezes, and this can crack or burst pipes. This, in turn, can create a flood (as the water in the system is unlikely to all have frozen solid at once).
Electrical circuit overload
Poor water taste
Contamination with heavy metals

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A flexible tool for unclogging pipes is called what?
A cherry picker
A branch
A scope
A snake
This is a finely-jointed metal tube that bends and curves with pipes as it finds its way to the clog. It's named for its flexibility.

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What is the main force behind drainage in a plumbing system?
A suction pump
Gravity
Plumbing systems are engineered so that gravity alone allows wastewater to drain away. Pretty convenient, given that we'll never run out of gravity!
Temperature changes
All of these

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To keep pipes from freezing, you should ...
Heat your home to 95+ degrees.
Wrap them in wool sweaters.
Let a small amount of water trickle through them.
Though it might feel wasteful, letting water drip from the faucets can save you from cracked pipes and a big repair bill. Moving water doesn't freeze as easily as water standing still.
There is nothing you can do.

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Another purpose of a trap is to do what?
Prevent rodents from getting in
Keep water from draining too fast
Keep sewer gas out of the house
Sewer gas smells terrible (unsurprisingly), and being a gas, rises. Traps hold some water at all times, and the water provides a barrier against the gas. Nifty, eh?
Keep pipes wet and lubricated

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To save water, you might want to install a ______ toilet.
ADA-compliant
Low-flow
"Low-flow" and "low-consumption" mean the same thing. They are compliant with a conservation act passed in 1992. If your toilet is ADA-compliant, however, the seat is higher than average to accommodate those with mobility issues. It doesn't save any water.
High-water
Victorian

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At core, a building has two plumbing systems: _____ and drainage.
Fillage
Cleaning
Gutter
Supply
This just makes sense. The most basic functions of a plumbing system are to supply clean water to a building and carry used/waste water away.

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Which of these does NOT have a trap?
Laundry sink
Shower
Toilet
They all do.
Virtually every plumbing fixture has a trap. It's an essential part of good plumbing design.

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What would you use to tighten up a large bolt or nut?
Adjustable wrench
An adjustable wrench is the kind you probably picture when you hear the word "wrench" -- big and heavy. It also has a rolling knob in the handle that adjusts (hence the name) the width of the jaws.
Allen wrench
Closet auger
C-clamp

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True or false: You should wear safety goggles when plunging a fixture.
True
There are several reasons for protecting your eyes from a backsplash. If you're plunging a toilet, the water could contain pathogens. In other fixtures, if you've used liquid drain opener, that's a risk as well. In general, there's very little in standing wastewater you'd want in your eyes!
False

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Replacing a washer is likely to fix what issue?
An inefficient washing machine
A watering toilet
A leaky faucet
If your faucet is leaking, the issue is likely either a worn-out washer or a worn-out valve seat. You may want to replace both at once, just to keep the problem from recurring.
A frozen pipe

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Plumbers frequently use what kind of tape?
Gaffer's
Masking
Packing
Teflon
Oddly, this tape doesn't actually contain Teflon. But it does adhere nicely to threads without interfering with their coupling.

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"Ghost flushing" is usually caused by ...
A clog in the toilet
Excessive water pressure
A worn-out flapper
The flapper is the rubber valve between the tank and the toilet bowl. Either re-seat it, or, if it's old, replace it.
A plumber who died with unfinished business

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Which of these causes most drain clogs?
Grease
Human hair
Human hair, not pet hair, is the most common cause of clogs. Soap residue sticking to the hair trapped in the drain does compound the situation, though.
Pet hair
Soap residue

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The spiral ridges on a pipe coupling are called what?
Fairings
Flanges
Rifling
Threads
Threads are found on far more couplings than the ones in plumbing. Whenever you screw the cap back onto a flashlight after replacing batteries, you're using its threads.

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Which of these tools is the first line of defense against a clog?
An auger
A pipe cutter
A plunger
When you've got a clog, a plunger is usually the first thing you'd grab. Only after that might you resort to more invasive plumber's tools.
A P-trap

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Which of these would you NOT commonly use in plumbing repairs?
Hex wrenches
A multi-meter
A multimeter is for testing how much "juice" is left in batteries. You shouldn't be using one in plumbing work -- electricity and water don't mix well!
Rags
WD-40

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A projecting rim or "skirt" on a pipe is called a ...
Base
Flange
Toilet plungers also have flanges, except in that case, it's an inner ring. This provides an extra seal and better suction, which is needed given the difficult curved shape of the bowl around the hole.
Lip
It's just called a rim

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To work on a plumbing fixture, you must shut off the water at ...
The main valve
The valve nearest the fixture
Before making repairs, it is best to shut off the water at the nearest valve. Look for an oval knob, usually close to the floor. Shutting the water off at your home's main supply is only needed for major work.
The nearest city block's main
It is not usually necessary to shut off the water.

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True or false: Every plumbing system feeds into a sewer system.
True
False
Homes in rural or less-developed areas often have septic tanks. One holdup in getting neighborhoods on sewer systems is the expense to taxpayers -- they're expensive to engineer, and property owners often vote against the new tax assessment.

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Which of these might you use white vinegar for?
Opening a clog
Improving water pressure
Cleaning a toilet plunger
Removing buildup from shower heads
White vinegar is a cheap, nifty household substance. It removes buildup from spray nozzles of all kinds, and can be used as an eco-friendly cleaner, too. (But don't bother trying to clean your plunger, though).

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On which fixture would you use a "closet auger"?
Bathroom sink
Kitchen sink
Shower drain
Toilet
Confused? The name comes from the days when a toilet was called a "water closet." A closet auger is like a drain snake, but specifically made for toilets.

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One toilet flush generally uses about how much water?
3/4 gallon
1.25 gallons
Toilets have become more efficient. Back in the day, they used about 3 gallons per flush, but no more.
2 gallons
3 gallons

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Which of these can save you a big headache when you're taking apart a faucet?
Closing the drain
It's that simple -- close the drain before you take anything apart! If one of those very small pieces slips from your fingers and down the drain, you're going to end up taking the trap apart.
Having Teflon tape handy
Having a pipe cutter at hand
Using a jeweler's loupe for up-close work

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Which of these is it safest to flush down a toilet?
Baby wipes
Condoms
Cotton swabs
Human hair
Plumbers advise against even this, but throwing a bit of hair (like from a comb or brush) into the toilet is unlikely to do damage unless it's in large amounts. Still, the wastebasket is a better choice.

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Why might you stuff a rag in a drain plate?
To clean it
To make the sound of running water quieter
To provide suction while plunging
Bathtubs commonly have drain plates; sinks often have smaller versions. If you try to plunge them without blocking the drain plate, you won't get very far, as the pipes will have an alternate source of air, and little suction will be produced.
To plug a leak

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Which of these is another term for Allen wrenches, often used in plumbing work?
Allen keys
Hex keys
Hex wrenches
All of these
As you might have guessed, "keys" is a synonym for small wrenches. Allen keys or wrenches are often called "hex" instead, because of their hexagonal heads.

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A little bit of water is bubbling up from the air gap of the dishwasher. What should you do?
Call a plumber.
Plunge the sink right afterward the dishwasher is done running.
Clean out the air gap thoroughly.
Nothing. This is normal.
The air gap is made to release air and water during the washing cycle. However, if a lot of water is escaping, it might be time for professional help.

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Which of these is NOT a type of faucet?
Ball-type
Compression
Disk
All of these are faucets.
These are all types of faucets. Your kitchen faucet, for example, might have the popular ball-type joint, in which the faucet rotates like a shoulder in a ball-and-socket joint.
None of these are faucets.

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Is a water heater a plumbing fixture?
Yes.
Nope!
A water heater is not considered a fixture, because though it has a water supply, it doesn't drain away wastewater. It only heats water for use in fixtures.

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What does the word "septic" actually mean?
Clean
Dirty/germy
You probably got this one if you thought of the word "antiseptic," which means "germ-killing." You'll hear the term "septic" in medicine, where it means a body is being overcome with germs or infection.
Holding/storage
Convenient

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Septic tanks need to be pumped out approximately every ...
Year
Two years
Five years
Decade
This is not a DIY job! Still, it's unpleasant enough that we're happy, on behalf of the workers who take it on, that it doesn't need to be done very often.

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