So, you fancy yourself a fairly accomplished DIY homeowner. You have successfully tackled everything from painting to laying kitchen tile. Now you are getting ready to do something you’ve never done before: replace some of the older pipes in your home. Are you really ready to do this, or should you seriously consider calling in a plumber?
In principle, plumbing is not all that complicated. But in practice, you really have to know what you’re doing. Not only that, but DIY plumbing is governed by three basic rules. If you don’t know and follow the rules, a disaster could be right around the corner.
Here are the rules, compliments of Salt City Plumbing, a Salt Lake City, Utah plumbing contractor that does everything from unclogging drains to replacing water heaters:
1. Know Your Shut Off Valves
The number one rule of residential plumbing repair is knowing your shut off valves. There are lots of them. For starters, you have the main valve that controls water coming into your house from the street or your well. Close that valve and you will cut off water to the entire house. You should know exactly where this valve is, just in case.
There are other valves scattered throughout the home. Generally, the water lines under each sink will have separate shutoff valves. You are likely to find additional valves in the basement or crawl space. These valves control water flow to specific regions of the house. It is important to familiarize yourself with the location of all the valves so that you know the best location for shutting off water before you begin work.
2. Always Use the Right Materials
Despite plumbing’s simplicity, it is made complicated by so many different types of materials and parts. It is imperative that you always use the right materials for the job. If copper tubing is the best choice for running a new water line, don’t settle for PVC or plastic. Likewise, do not use a shark bite fitting if the standard rules of plumbing call for a compression fitting.
Using incorrect materials or parts could ultimately lead to a leak, or worse. Mixing and matching materials that really don’t belong together can also create problems. If you don’t know what materials to use for a given job, perhaps calling in a plumber would be better.
3. Test Every Repair
The third and final rule is to test every repair you make. Just don’t assume the job is done right, turn the water back on, and walk away. Otherwise, even a slight leak could turn into a major problem over time. The small amount of time you saved by not testing will not be worth it if you end up facing a major repair down the road.
How do you test repairs? You slowly turn the water back on and observe the results. For instance, let us say you have replaced an older kitchen faucet with a newer model. The most likely source of leaks will be the water connections between the lines under the sink and the lines built into the faucet unit.
Test each line by opening the respective valves just a little bit. If a bead of water begins to form around the connection, you have a leak. If not, open the valve a little more and see what happens. The goal is to eventually get the water to full pressure and observe no leaks as a result.
If you are a DIY homeowner looking to handle your own plumbing repairs, follow the three rules described in this post. Doing so will set you up for success.