DIY plumbing projects range from emergencies that arise when you least expect them, to projects that involve installing new fixtures and fittings, or renovating drab and boring bathrooms or kitchens that don't function properly. They also include a variety of maintenance jobs both big and small, from replacing washers and unblocking drains to sorting out airlocks and repairing leaks. But what do you need to know to be able to tackle a DIY plumbing project, and what tools should you have on hand? If you do a little homework before you start any DIY plumbing you are more likely to succeed, while saving yourself money and time.
Research before starting your DIY Plumbing Project!
You can learn some of the basics of plumbing by reading books and magazines, by searching the Internet, by joining forums and watching videos. But there's nothing like hands-on experience to really get to grips with what's involved. You need to familiarize yourself with plumbing systems in general, and learn how to differentiate between water supply pipes, waste pipes and drains. Remember that we also use taps or faucets and valves to control and stop the flow of water to various parts of the hot and cold water systems in our homes and buildings. So you need to know how these work as well.
When the local authority or council links a property to the water mains, they install a stopcock (which is a type of valve) and a meter at the point where the water will flow into the supply pipes leading to the house. This is so they can charge the owners of properties for the water they use each month. Find the main stopcock and locate any other stopcocks, for example those that are located where water enters the hot water tank or cylinder and where water is supplied to showers. Also check where visible, above-ground pipework has been installed and what type and size of pipe has been used. And note what type of fittings have been used to join pipework. If you know what you are dealing with, you will be able to react quickly if there is a plumbing emergency that you will be able to sort out yourself.
But you can only deal with plumbing problems if you have a good basic tool kit available when an emergency happens. For DIY plumbing projects you will need wrenches, spanners and pliers that can be used for a variety of applications. If you have to work with pipes you will need cutting tools and probably also a file or two to smooth rough ends. Clamps are always useful for holding pipes and fittings in place while you work, and a spirit level will ensure you keep everything level and plumb. Since blockages are relatively common, make sure you also have augers and plungers to clear them. And make sure you always have plumber's tape (also known as PTFE, Teflon tape and thread seal tape) at all times. It's a plumber's best friend.
If you're going to do some home renovations in your kitchen or bathroom, DIY plumbing projects may extend to tiling, painting and other DIY skills may be required. Decide what you are going to do and then be prepared to enter the exciting world of DIY plumbing.