Did you know that the plumbing industry has over 200 commonly used abbreviations? Yes, you read that right! From pipe materials to fixtures, measurements, and industry standards, plumbing professionals and enthusiasts rely on abbreviations to communicate efficiently. Understanding these abbreviations is crucial for anyone working with plumbing systems or looking to decode complex plumbing terminology.

Key Takeaways:

  • Plumbing industry has over 200 commonly used abbreviations
  • Understanding plumbing abbreviations is crucial for efficient communication
  • Abbreviations cover various aspects of plumbing, including pipe materials, fixtures, measurements, and industry standards
  • Knowing plumbing abbreviations helps professionals and enthusiasts decode complex plumbing terminology
  • This comprehensive guide will provide a list of common plumbing abbreviations and their explanations

Understanding Pipe Materials

In the world of plumbing, various pipe materials are used to meet different needs and applications. Understanding these materials is essential for successful plumbing projects. In this section, I will introduce you to some popular pipe materials, including ABS, CPVC, PEX, PRV, and PVC. Let’s dive in!


ABS, which stands for acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene, is a type of plastic pipe commonly used for drainage systems. It is known for its durability, resistance to chemicals, and ease of installation. ABS pipes are often found in residential and commercial buildings, effectively carrying wastewater away from sinks, showers, and toilets.


CPVC, or chlorinated polyvinyl chloride, is a thermoplastic pipe widely used for both hot and cold water distribution. It is a popular choice due to its resistance to high temperatures and corrosion. CPVC pipes are commonly used in residential and commercial plumbing systems, ensuring the smooth flow of both hot and cold water.


PEX, or crosslinked polyethylene, is a flexible tubing material that has gained popularity in recent years. It is commonly used for radiant heating systems, where hot water is circulated through PEX pipes embedded in floors or walls. PEX offers flexibility, ease of installation, and resistance to freeze damage.


PRV is an abbreviation that can refer to either a pressure relief valve or a pressure reducing valve, depending on the context. Pressure relief valves are essential safety devices that protect plumbing systems from excessive pressure. On the other hand, pressure reducing valves regulate the pressure of water entering a building, ensuring optimal performance and preventing damage to pipes and fixtures.


PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is one of the most commonly used pipe materials in the plumbing industry. It is a versatile thermoplastic that offers excellent durability, chemical resistance, and affordability. PVC pipes are widely used for water supply and drainage applications in residential, commercial, and industrial settings.

Fixture and Appliance Abbreviations

Plumbing fixtures and appliances are commonly referred to using abbreviations to save time and space. It’s important to understand these abbreviations when discussing or reading about plumbing systems. Here are some of the most commonly used abbreviations:

Abbreviation Term
BG Bathroom Group
BT Bathtub
DW Dishwasher/Drinking Fountain
DWV Drainage, Waste, and Vent
FD Floor Drain
HD Hose Bib/Hydrant
HW Hot Water
HWT Hot Water Tank
KS Kitchen Sink
LT Laundry Tray
RD Roof Drain
SH Shower
SS Service Sink
UR Urinal
WC Water Closet (Toilet)

Measurement and Unit Abbreviations

When it comes to measurements and units in plumbing, there are several abbreviations to be familiar with. Understanding these abbreviations is essential for accurate communication and proper installation in the plumbing industry. Here is a breakdown of some commonly used abbreviations:


  • cm2: Square centimeter(s).
  • C: Degrees Celsius, used to measure temperature.
  • in.: Inches, a unit of length commonly used for pipe diameter and fittings.
  • Kpa: Kilopascals, a unit of pressure often used to measure water pressure in plumbing systems.
  • L: Liter(s), a unit of volume used to measure water capacity.
  • L/s: Liters per second, a unit of flow rate used to measure the amount of water passing through a pipe or fixture per second.
  • lbs: Pounds, used to measure weight or force in plumbing applications.
  • m: Meters, a unit of length used for pipe length, height, or distance measurements.
  • m2: Square meters, used to measure area, such as the surface area of a room or pipe.
  • mm: Millimeters, often used to denote pipe diameter or thickness.

Being familiar with these measurement and unit abbreviations is crucial for understanding plumbing plans, product specifications, and communicating effectively within the plumbing industry.

Measurement and Unit Abbreviations

Industry Standards and Organizations

The plumbing industry operates under the guidance of various organizations and adheres to specific standards to ensure the safety and quality of plumbing products. These organizations provide oversight, develop standards, and drive advancements in the industry. Three of the key organizations in the plumbing industry are ANSI, NSF, and PMI.

ANSI – American National Standards Institute

The American National Standards Institute, widely known as ANSI, is a non-profit organization that plays a crucial role in creating and implementing voluntary health and safety standards. ANSI facilitates the development of consensus standards that establish guidelines for plumbing products, ensuring they meet industry requirements.

NSF International

NSF International, another non-profit organization, is dedicated to developing standards and product certifications related to public health and safety. NSF collaborates with manufacturers, regulators, and consumers to establish criteria for the evaluation and certification of plumbing products. Their certifications provide assurance that the products comply with industry standards and are safe for use.

PMI – Plumbing Manufacturers International

Plumbing Manufacturers International, or PMI, is a trade association representing plumbing product manufacturers. PMI advocates for industry standards, advancements, and regulations that promote water efficiency, reliability, and public health. The association actively engages with stakeholders, including government agencies and consumer groups, to drive positive change in the plumbing industry.


Common Plumbing Materials

In the world of plumbing, the materials chosen for your plumbing system can significantly impact its overall durability and functionality. Understanding the different materials used in plumbing installations is crucial for making informed decisions. In this section, we will explore some of the most common plumbing materials, including brass, copper, porcelain enamel, and vitreous china.


Brass is an alloy made primarily of copper and zinc. Its unique properties, including its excellent corrosion resistance and high malleability, make it a popular choice in faucet and fitting manufacturing. Brass fittings are commonly used in plumbing installations due to their durability and versatility. Whether it’s connecting pipes or controlling the flow of water, brass fittings are reliable and long-lasting.


Copper is a fundamental element used in various plumbing applications. It is commonly used for piping systems due to its exceptional corrosion resistance, heat conductivity, and durability. Copper pipes have been a trusted choice for many years, providing reliable water supply and efficient drainage. Additionally, copper is an essential component in the manufacturing of brass fittings due to its favorable properties.

Porcelain Enamel

Porcelain enamel is a type of coating applied to metal fixtures, such as sinks, bathtubs, and toilets, to provide a durable and glossy finish. The process involves fusing powdered glass to the metal surface through a high-temperature firing process. The result is a smooth, nonporous, and easy-to-clean coating that enhances the aesthetics and longevity of plumbing fixtures.

Vitreous China

Vitreous china is a type of pottery that is commonly used to manufacture plumbing fixtures like toilets. It is made by firing a mixture of clay and other materials at a high temperature, resulting in a hard, nonporous, and durable surface. Vitreous china fixtures are known for their resistance to staining, fading, and chipping, making them an excellent choice for commercial and residential applications alike.

Material Properties Common Applications
Brass Corrosion resistance, malleability Faucets, fittings
Copper Corrosion resistance, heat conductivity Piping systems
Porcelain Enamel Durable, glossy finish Sinks, bathtubs, toilets
Vitreous China Nonporous, durable Toilets, sinks

Water Flow and Pressure Abbreviations

Understanding water flow and pressure is essential in plumbing. Whether you’re measuring the rate of water flow or determining the volume of water required for flushing, it’s important to be familiar with the necessary abbreviations. Here are the key abbreviations used in the plumbing industry:

GPM: Gallons per Minute

GPM, or gallons per minute, is a measure of the rate at which water flows through a fixture or fitting. It is commonly used to determine the capacity of faucets, showerheads, and other water outlets. When choosing plumbing fixtures, it’s crucial to consider the desired GPM to ensure sufficient water flow for your needs.

GPF: Gallons per Flush

GPF, or gallons per flush, is a metric used to measure the volume of water required to flush a toilet or urinal. By understanding the GPF of different fixtures, you can make informed decisions about water conservation and efficiency. Low-flow toilets, for example, have a lower GPF compared to older models, helping to reduce water consumption.

Kpa: Kilopascals

Kpa represents kilopascals, which is a unit of pressure commonly used in plumbing. It measures the force exerted by water or other fluids in a pipe system. Kpa is often used when discussing pressure regulators, valves, and water pressure in general. By understanding kilopascals, plumbers can ensure adequate water pressure throughout a building’s plumbing system.

Psi: Pounds per Square Inch

Psi, or pounds per square inch, is another common unit of pressure used in plumbing. It measures the amount of force exerted by fluids on a given area. Plumbers often refer to psi when evaluating the pressure requirements of a plumbing system and selecting appropriate fittings, pipes, and valves.

Psia: Pounds per Square Inch Absolute

Psia stands for pounds per square inch absolute. It is a unit of pressure that measures pressure relative to perfect vacuum. This value includes atmospheric pressure, making it useful when working with vacuum systems or pressurized environments.

Psig: Pounds per Square Inch Gauge

Psig, or pounds per square inch gauge, measures pressure relative to atmospheric pressure. It indicates the pressure above or below atmospheric levels, without taking into account the full atmospheric pressure itself. Psig is commonly used in pressure measurement devices and gauges throughout the plumbing industry.

Understanding these water flow and pressure abbreviations is essential for plumbing professionals and homeowners alike. By using these abbreviations, you can effectively communicate and make informed decisions about water flow and pressure in plumbing systems.

Abbreviation Full Form Description
GPM Gallons per Minute The rate at which water flows through a fixture or fitting
GPF Gallons per Flush The volume of water required to flush a toilet or urinal
Kpa Kilopascals A unit of pressure commonly used in plumbing
Psi Pounds per Square Inch A unit of pressure used to measure force exerted by fluids
Psia Pounds per Square Inch Absolute Pressure relative to perfect vacuum, including atmospheric pressure
Psig Pounds per Square Inch Gauge Pressure relative to atmospheric pressure, excluding atmospheric pressure itself

Safety Regulations and Compliance

Compliance with safety regulations is crucial in the plumbing industry. As a professional plumber, I understand the importance of adhering to regulations to ensure the safety and well-being of consumers. Three significant regulations that govern the plumbing industry are the Lead and Copper Rule, Proposition 65, and the Safe Drinking Water Act.

The Lead and Copper Rule is a regulation that requires water systems to monitor and control the levels of lead and copper in drinking water. This rule is vital in protecting the public from potential lead and copper contamination, which can have severe health consequences. By monitoring and managing the levels of these metals, water systems can ensure that the drinking water supplied to homes and businesses is safe and free from harmful contaminants.

Proposition 65, also known as California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, is another critical regulation that impacts the plumbing industry. It requires companies to disclose chemicals that may be released into the environment and cause cancer. This regulation aims to protect both consumers and the environment by providing transparency about potentially harmful substances. Plumbing companies must be aware of and comply with Proposition 65 to ensure they are providing safe products and services to their customers.

The Safe Drinking Water Act is a federal law that establishes national standards for water quality and regulates public drinking water supplies. This act sets guidelines to protect public health by ensuring the quality and safety of the water consumed by communities across the country. By following the standards outlined in the Safe Drinking Water Act, plumbers play a crucial role in safeguarding public health and contributing to the overall well-being of the community.