Plumbing Dictionary M-Z

Common plumbing terms

It is always helpful to know what your plumber is talking about. Plumbing terminology can seem strange at first, here is a short dictionary of common plumbing terms and what they mean. Knowing these can also be very helpful to your plumber when you are describing the plumbing problem you are having.


Plumbing Dictionary M-Z

Main – this is the primary line that supplies water from the City of Cape Town to your home. All plumbing supply lines in your home branch out from this main line.

Master plumber – refers to a licensed professional plumber who passed South Africa’s rigorous testing and certification process for plumbers

Overflow tube – found in the toilet tank in case the ballcock breaks and it prevents tank overflow.  Constant running may alert you to an overflow problem in your toilet

O-ring – a round instead of flat rubber washer, usually found in valve systems to create a watertight seal

Plumber’s putty – Putty used to seal joints between fixtures and surfaces

Plumber's Snake

Plumber’s Snake

Plumber’s snake – used to clear clogged pipes and drains, this is a thin, flexible length of spiral-wound metal, which is inserted into the drain and rotated

Plunger – Useful for freeing clogged drains, everyone should have one in their home

Pressure balance valve – Found in the shower, this valve maintains the balance between hot and cold water so that temperature remains constant and you can enjoy a wonderful shower

Relief valve – This valve opens up to reduce excess temperature and pressure in the plumbing system

Septic tank – In case your home does not have a connection to the local city sewage pipes, this refers to the holding tank for small scale sewage treatment system.


Stop Cock

Stop cock –  A valve used to shut off the water supply to a part of the plumbing system or a specific pipe.

Shutoff valve – A valve that shuts off water supply, either to a specific plumbing fixture such as a sink or toilet, or the entire house. If you do not know where the shutoff valve is in your home, it is recommended you locate it to avoid costly renovations in case of plumbing problems

Supply line – Any metal or plastic pipe that connects water flow from the main line to any individual fixture in your home

Valve example to control the flow of water


Valve – Device that allows to control the flow of water

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