Plumbing - about materials
Water systems of ancient times relied on gravity for the supply of water, using pipes or channels usually made of clay, lead, bamboo, wood, or stone. Hollowed wooden logs wrapped in steel banding were used for plumbing pipes, particularly water mains. Logs were used for water distribution in England close to 500 years ago. US cities began using hollowed logs in the late 1700s through the 1800s.8 Today, most plumbing supply pipe is made out of steel, copper, and plastic; most waste (also known as "soil")11 out of steel, copper, plastic, and cast iron.11
The straight sections of plumbing systems are called "pipes" or "tubes". A pipe is typically formed via casting or welding, whereas a tube is made through extrusion. Pipe normally has thicker walls and may be threaded or welded, while tubing is thinner-walled and requires special joining techniques such as brazing, compression fitting, crimping, or for plastics, solvent welding. These joining techniques are discussed in more detail in the piping and plumbing fittings article.
Valves - where do we use them?
Valves are found in virtually every industrial process, including water and sewage processing, mining, power generation, processing of oil, gas and petroleum, food manufacturing, chemical and plastic manufacturing and many other fields.
People in developed nations use valves in their daily lives, including plumbing valves, such as taps for tap water, gas control valves on cookers, small valves fitted to washing machines and dishwashers, safety devices fitted to hot water systems, and poppet valves in car engines.
In nature there are valves, for example one-way valves in veins controlling the blood circulation, and heart valves controlling the flow of blood in the chambers of the heart and maintaining the correct pumping action.
Valves may be operated manually, either by a handle, lever, pedal or wheel. Valves may also be automatic, driven by changes in pressure, temperature, or flow. These changes may act upon a diaphragm or a piston which in turn activates the valve, examples of this type of valve found commonly are safety valves fitted to hot water systems or boilers.
More complex control systems using valves requiring automatic control based on an external input (i.e., regulating flow through a pipe to a changing set point) require an actuator.
Types of plumber's snakes
Hand auger / hand spinner
Hand augers are useful for clearing sink and bathtub drains. They are unsuitable for sending through flush toilets, because the wire might damage the bowl; also, flush toilets have relatively large drain pipes in which the narrow snake can be become tangled. (A 1?4-inch cable, for example, should never be used in a drain with a calibre of more than two inches.)
Closet auger / toilet auger
The closet auger (named after water closet) feeds a relatively short auger through a hook-shaped length of metal tubing. The hook shape makes it easier to feed the auger into the toilet. A plastic boot on the end of the auger protects the finish of the visible porcelain. Since most toilet clogs occur in the trap built into the bowl, the short cable is sufficient to break up or retrieve the greater majority of clogs.