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Plumbing How-To’s: Four Tips to Avoid DIY Disaster

The internet is replete with stories of do-it-yourself plumbing jobs gone horribly, horribly wrong. Don’t become another DIY statistic! Before you embark on your own plumbing job, take these tips to heart— or you could find yourself standing in your living room, ankle deep in water!

Resist The Urge To Learn As You Go
There are certain DIY projects that can be undertaken with a certain spirit of adventure. Sometimes things work out great, sometimes they don’t, but you can have a great laugh about it later. Plumbing is not one of these projects. Plumbing requires skill and knowledge, neither of which should be developed “on the fly.” Before you ever touch a wrench or copper pipe, read everything you can about plumbing, and make sure you have a thorough understanding of what your project entails from start to finish. If possible, it also pays to take a basic plumbing course, if they’re available in your area. You can often find introductory plumbing seminars offered at your local home improvement store.

Find Your Shutoff Valves
This is, perhaps, the most critical piece of knowledge you will ever possess as a DIY plumber. If you ever need your shutoff valve, you’ll need it fast, so it pays to know exactly where your valves are well in advance. Most of your shutoff valves will probably be located in your basement, however you might have to do some searching. If all else fails, your main shutoff valve will be located near the main water line entry point to your home.

Have The Right Tools on Hand
Unlike most general DIY projects, plumbing requires somewhat of a specialized tool kit that you probably don’t just have lying around. In order to avert potential mid-project disaster, it’s important to have everything you’ll need before you get started. A basic plumbers tool kit will typically include tongue-and-groove pliers, a hacksaw, a propane torch, a wide variety of wrenches, a sturdy metal file, a hand auger, and a tube cutter. It also pays to have a good quality plunger handy!

Know When To Call A Professional
They say pride comes before a fall – and this statement certainly applies to plumbing. Know your limits, and stick to them. If you’re not sure about a project, ask a professional. If you don’t know what questions to ask, you shouldn’t tackle the project in the first place. Also keep an eye out for the moment a project you’ve already started begins to go south. Many of the most expensive plumbing repairs completed by professional plumbers are actually caused or exacerbated by do-it-yourselfers. Lots of  plumbers are willing to offer comprehensive estimates—it’s worth taking advantage of.