DIY Plumbing And When To Call A Professional
Since the invention of indoor plumbing, it has been necessary to repair and maintain pipes and plumbing systems. When a piece fails of it comes time for maintenance, the question is always whether or not the expense of hiring a professional is worth it. The answer is dependent upon your knowledge base, skill set, tools and supplies, and the type of problem you are experiencing. Many people choose to attempt the project on their own. This may be a good choice, depending on the situation. The problem with this is that if you do not have the appropriate skills and knowledge base, you may make the problem worse rather than better. One of the best things that any adult can do, is learning the basics of plumbing and how to determine when it is time to call in professionals. To do this, it is easiest to have a guide to help along the way. what you will find here is just that, a detailed guide of basic plumbing.
There are a few “rules of thumb” that should always be observed when it comes to plumbing. First, know the first signs that the problem is too big to handle alone. There are a few things that should always be observed in regards to this. If water seems to be coming from more than one place or you have a blockage, enlist the help of a professional blocked drain plumber. When a septic tank is involved, you need a professional, possibly a whole team of them. If you cannot find a reasonable explanation right away to explain very low water pressure, call the plumbers in your local area. If an area becomes flooded due to a leak, get help. The shutoff valve is incredibly important, therefore, if it becomes damaged, you will need the help of a plumber (and possibly your waterworks company). Leaks are sometimes difficult to locate, if this is the case, seek help. If the problem involves a garbage disposal, do not attempt the repair on your own.
The next rule that should always be followed is to be prepared for basic repairs. This entails having the appropriate tools as well as extra pipe and other pieces. You will not be able to execute even the simplest of repairs if you do not have the tools and supplies that you need. Before purchasing anything, you need to know what type of pipe you have and the diameter. It is also best to buy a pipe with control valves for the HVAC.
Not taking into account drain pipes and other extra types of pipe, there are only two types of pipe that are found in residences. The first is a copper pipe which is far more common in older houses as most new houses use the second type. The other type of pipe is PVC pipe. The type is much easier to work with. If you have a copper pipe, it is generally a good idea to always call a professional. Keep in mind that with PVC pipe, there are two versions, white wall, and tan wall. The only difference is sizing. Be certain that you know which version you need. The type of pipe will determine what tools you will need and the size will determine what type of supplies you need. If you do not know what size pipe you have, it is fairly easy to determine. There are three common sizes, half an inch, three-quarters inch, and one inch. You can use a measuring tape to see what the size is. Also, you can ask for a small sample piece of each at a hardware store and compare them to what is in your home.
Here is a list of tools for copper pipe:
- Soldering tool
- Heat resistant gloves
- Pipe cutter or the right Miter Saw
Here is a list of tools for PVC pipe:
- Plumbers tape
- PVC cement
- Pipe cutter
Here is a list of items you need regardless of the type of pipe:
- Old clothes or smock
- Pipe wrench
- Screwdrivers of varying sizes and types
- Pipe clamps
- Gaskets in a multitude of shapes and sizes
Now that you have all of the tools that you will need, you need to gather supplies. This includes a length of the type and size of pipe to use as needed, four to six feet should cover it. You should also purchase different types of connections and joints as well as knobs.
It is incredibly vital to know how to shut off the water in case you do need to perform a repair. You can’t risk having water spray everywhere while you work. The next step to take is to locate all of the shutoff valves located in or under your home. Every home has a few different shutoffs. The first one that you should locate is the primary shutoff valve. This is the one that completely stops water from entering the house. This is not to be confused with the shutoff that only your local water plant has access to. In every home, there is one knob that controls the flow of water once it reaches the building. It will be located very near to a wall or entrance, near the ground. Quite often, this valve is located underneath the house, but it may also be in a basement or cellar. After locating this valve, locate any and all additional valves. While no other valve will have the ability to shut off all of the water to the house, there will be some that stop water in specific areas. These are often located under or near sinks, bathtubs, and water heaters as well as washing machines. There will be one for hot water and one for cold water.
If you are attempting to repair an area that burst, turn off the water supply, use the pipe cutter and remove the section that is busted. Make sure to go a couple of inches away from the burst on both sides when cutting. If you have copper pipe, you will solder on a new piece. If you have PVC, you will use connectors and pipe cement. If there is a small leak around a connection, replace the inner gasket where applicable and wrap the threads of the connection in plumbers tape before reassembling. If the connection is not a threaded connection, cut the section out and replace it.