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B Tank – Acetylene tank holding 40 cu.ft.of gas, used for plumbing, once used to fuel Boats, thus the name.

BC – Brushed Chrome finish

BHP – Brushed Chrome finish

BHP – Brake Horse Power. The actual amount of horsepower consumed by a pump as measured on a dynamometer.

BK / BL / BS – Matte Black / Satin Black finish

BN – Brushed Nickel finish

BTU – British Thermal Unit – A unit of heat energy required to raise the temperature of 1 lb.of water 1 degree Fahrenheit.

BX Cable – Metallic sheathed cable containing A/C electrical wiring. Typically used when wiring would otherwise be exposed.

Backfire – Flashback of flame through the burner venturi causing the gas to burn at the orifice.

Back Flow – The circumstance of water traveling from one system back into any part of the main distribution system, usually by siphoning.

Back Flow Preventer – A device to prevent backflow into a potable water supply. Usually required for sprinkler systems, handheld showers, pullout faucet spouts, kitchen sprayers, etc.

Back Pressure – Pressure that resists the flow of fluid in a piping system.

Back Siphonage – The negative pressure that causes backflow.

Backjet – Whirlpool jets located on the fixture wall behind a reclining bather.

Backjet Pulse Canister – A water-controlling device responsible for backjet pulsing action.

Back Vent – Plumbing fixture’s separate vent in a building drainage system.

Back Wash – The process of cleaning a filter by reversing the flow of water through it. Dirt is sent to waste.

Backup – Overflow of a plumbing fixture due to drain stoppage.

Backwater Valve – Sewer line valve that prevents sewage from flowing back into the house.

Baffle – An object placed in an appliance to change the direction of, or retard the flow of air, air-gas mixtures, or flue gases.

Balancing Valve – A water heater valve that controls water flow and balances heat distribution to different locations.

Ball Check Valve – A valve that uses a ball to seal against a seat to stop flow in one direction.

Ball Joint – Spherical assembly allowing pivot rotations for showerheads.

Ball Passage – This refers to the size of the ball that can pass through the trapway of a toilet. This also relates to trapway size. In general, the trap size will be 1/8″ larger than the maximum size ball that can pass through it.

Ball Valve – A valve that uses a ball to seal against the seat.

Ballcock – The fill valve that controls the flow of water from the water supply line into a gravity-operated toilet tank. It is controlled by a float mechanism that floats in the tank water. When the toilet is flushed, the float drops and opens the ballcock, releasing water into the tank and/or bowl. As the water in the tank is restored, the float rises and shuts off the ballcock when the tank is full.

Balloon Bag – Device that attaches to a garden hose & used to loosen a blockage in a clogged drain.

Band Clamp – A flexible band made of a variety of materials that has a cinching device used to secure pipes.

Barlor’s Fomula – An equation that shows the relationship of internal pressure to allowable stress, nominal thickness and diameter.

Barrier-Free – Relating to handicap access, e.g.a shower enclosure system having minimal or no bottom track and openings that are wheelchair-accessible.

Base – A substance that releases hydroxyl ions when dissolved in water. Bases react with acids to form salt and water.

Basin – A circular vessel with sloping or curved sides that holds water for washing. A bathroom lavatory or sink.

Basin Wrench – A wrench with a long handle with jaws mounted on a swivel that allows the jaws to reach and handle nuts to fasten faucets to a previously installed sink.

Basket Strainer – Basket-shaped strainer with holes and a slot that fits the sink drain to allow water to run out but to catch food or other solids before they can enter the sewage system.

Beam Clamp – A device to attach a pipe hanger to an overhead I-beam. These may be malleable, carbon steel, or galvanized, and may be primed or painted.

Bed Depth – The height of the ion exchange or filter media in the vessel after preparation for service.

Beehive Strainer – A strainer inserted into a urinal to prevent foreign matter from falling into the drain.

Bidet – A personal hygiene plumbing fixture similar in appearance to a toilet bowl used for washing genitals and posterior areas of the body. It is mounted on the floor next to a toilet and consists of a washing basin, a hot and cold faucet, and sprayer.

Bisque – The rough, unpolished finish found in unglazed areas of vitreous china fixtures, such as inside the tank or the bottom of the bowl.

Black Oiled – Term associated with pipe surface whereby material ordered in this manner is protected with a varnish-type oil on the O.D. for temporary corrosion protection during transit and in short-term storage.

Black Pipe – Lacquer-finish cast iron pipe.

Blackwater – Wastewater from toilets or latrines and sinks used for food preparation or disposal, or for the disposal of chemicals.

Bleed – To drain a pipe of excess air by opening a valve at the end of the pipe.

Blind Plug – Plug used on No Hub pipe.

Block Sensor Mode – For Touchless faucets, a system mode that occurs when the faucet continually senses an object, causing the faucet to stop functioning normally. The faucet will appear to be “OFF”, and will self-actuate every two hours to alert you to its condition.

Blow Torch – A torch used to solder pipes, activated by pressurized fuel and air to generate its flame.

Blowbag / Blowfish – Also called a “blowfish” it is a drain-cleaning device consisting of a rubber bladder with a hose fitting one end and a nozzle on the other. The device attaches to a water hose and is inserted into a clogged drainpipe. As water is introduced, it expands to grip the pipe, and releases pulsating bursts of water through the nozzle, forcing water through the pipe to clear the obstruction.

Blowdown – Partial venting or draining, under pressure, of the water side of a boiler to reduce or remove unwanted contaminants. Also the pressure drop after releasing a pressure-relief valve.

Blow-Out Water – A water closet bowl having a non-siphoning trapway at the rear of the bowl, and an integral flushing rim and jet.

Bodyspray – Shower component used in conjunction with a showerhead to deliver flow of water. It is commonly used in multiples to create a custom showering space.

Boiler – A sealed tank where water is turned to steam for heating or power.

Boiler Feed – A check valve controlling inlet water flow to a boiler.

Bonnet – The top portion of a compression valve assembly, it holds the valve in place as it is tightened against the valve seat at the other end of the assembly.

Bowl – Water-containing receptacle that receives liquid and solid body waste; usually classified as round or elongated.

Box – The internal (female) threaded end of pipe.

Box Flange – Flange containing internal (female) threaded pipe fitting.

Braided Tubing – A flexible pressure tubing of synthetic material encased in braided threads of steel, usually chrome plated or stainless. The braiding protects the tube from damage due to abrasion or crimping. Often used in water supply lines.

Branch – Any part of a drain system other than the main, riser, or stack.

Branch Vent – A vent connecting one or more individual vents with a vent stack.

Brass – Slang for faucets and fittings regardless of materials used.

Brine – A strong solution of sodium chloride (salt) used in the regeneration of ion exchange water softeners.

Bubbler – Drinking faucet with flow-regulated push-button self-closing valve. Also called a water fountain.

Building Drain – The lowest point in a drainage system where the interior drainage pipes meet and are conveyed it to the sewer.

Built-Ins – Shelves or storage units recessed flush with surrounding walls.

Burner – A heat producing device where the flame or heat is produced.

Burst Pressure – The internal pressure that will cause piece of tubing to fail.

Bushing – A pipe fitting used to join two pipes of different sizes. A bushing is threaded inside and out. Also a cylindrical part used as a lining or guide.

Butterfly Valve – A valve made of a square, rectangular, or round disk attached to a shaft inside a body of the same shape. Rotating the shaft 90 degrees opens or closes the valve.

Buttress (Tile Rise) – The raised portion of a shower curb that is on more than one level.

Bypass – A type of shower door system that consists of two or more panels running in parallel tracks.


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Source: “Plumbing Terms” Standard Plumbing Supply. 11 Sept. 2008