What is a Plumbing Fixture?

A plumbing fixture is a device or apparatus that is installed to dispel used water and suspended solid particles in the fluid into the sewer line. A plumbing fixture may be temporary or permanent, and it need not necessarily be connected to a source of water.

In other words, a plumbing fixture must be able to facilitate drainage into the sewage system. In case water is supplied to a plumbing fixture, like in a tap or faucet, you should be able to use it for bathing, cooking, drinking, etc.

Plumbing fixtures need to be made using non-corrosive, non-absorbent material, so the water is not contaminated in any way if it is being supplied through the fixture. These materials are easier to clean and are anti-microbial, making them appropriate to use for plumbing fixtures.

In other words, any component that is part of the plumbing system, and has a specific application, will be considered a plumbing fixture. In the following sections, I will introduce you to examples of different plumbing fixtures. As you read some of these names, the concept will become much clearer as these are fixtures you encounter in your life daily.

Types of Plumbing Fixtures

There are a handful of plumbing fixtures you should know. Here are some of the most common plumbing fixtures you may come across in your home, office, and city:

  • Sinks: These include kitchen basins, bathroom sinks, or any type of basin where one can wash their hands, utensils, etc. The sink is attached to a drain that directs the wastewater into the sewer.
  • Showers: There are steam showers, electric showers, beach showers, and of course, the standard water shower.
  • Bidets: These are less common in North America, but are common plumbing fixtures in Europe and other parts of the world. A bidet is typically a shallow bowl that has a spigot attached which sprays water for cleaning oneself after using the toilet, instead of or in addition to toilet paper.
  • Water Heaters: A water heater is an efficient device that heats up the water in your home so it can be at a comfortable temperature for bathing, washing and other activities. They can be run on gas or electricity.
  • Water Closets or Toilets, and Urinals: These are all fixtures that allow you to attend to nature‚Äôs call without having to deal with the waste yourself. A flush toilet, for example, simply allows you to squat and do your business, then a forceful stream of water takes the waste away. Similarly, urinals are designed for men to stand and pee, frequently found in commercial complexes though less frequently so in homes.
  • Faucets: Faucets, taps and spigots are all extremely common plumbing fixtures that are found in homes and commercial complexes alike. From a standard water tap that controls the temperature and flow of water to a valve that allows you to stop the flow of water immediately, these are all considered plumbing fixtures.

Residential vs Commercial Fixtures

Even among plumbing fixtures, there is general differentiation between residential fixtures and commercial/industrial fixtures. I do not mean to imply that fixtures that are used in your home cannot be used in a commercial office complex. But there tend to be certain distinctions that set these fixtures apart. Some states may even have specific rules about commercial plumbing fixtures.

For example, the plumbing fixtures used in a prison complex will be starkly different from what you may install in your home. Prisons require fixtures that cannot be broken or vandalized easily, so they are typically made of stainless steel.

Similarly, outpatient care facilities may prefer to install smaller lavatory fixtures so that more facilities can be installed into smaller spaces. So, one may find custom fittings being made especially for hospitals and patient care units.

These will be different from what you may find in a hotel or in an educational institution. Another good example of this difference is that you may not install a drinking fountain or water cooler in your home, but this is something a school or a commercial complex, like a shopping mall, will certainly have.

Commercial complexes are also likely to have simpler designs that can be replicated through the facility. For example, an airport is not likely to have ornately designed faucets installed in all the bathrooms.

That would mean spending money on easily more than 100 such faucets, depending on the size of the airport! Instead, commercial establishments might prefer something economical and efficient that can withstand high footfall and consumption.

Another big difference is that commercial complexes may prefer more hardened materials such as chrome that can take a beating and withstand different degrees of weight, especially when it comes to bidets or water closets.

Final Thoughts

The plumbing fixtures described above are only some examples of common fixtures found in the market.

While plumbing is the system of transporting water, clean and waste, from one point to another, none of this movement is possible if these fixtures are not installed. Whether they are temporary or permanent, plumbing fixtures are important components of the whole system.