So, you want to tackle plumbing projects on your own? The following are pro plumbing tips that will help you complete projects like a you're a part of the E.R. Services team.
Locate your pipes before you do any construction.
You already know the value of a stud finder or having the utility company out to locate power lines before you dig. Likewise you should own a stud finder that also detects pipes and wirings. A good around look around in the attic, crawl space, garage or the basement may help you determine where pipes are hiding. If you still can’t tell, carefully cut a test hatch before doing any major demolition projects.
Learn plumbing code.
You may have been successful with simple plumbing projects and feel ready to tackle more complex projects, but you’ll want to make sure you get it right so you don’t have to do it over when the housing inspector takes a look. Many a client of ours added a bathroom on their own but found out when it came time to sell the house that they didn't vent it properly or installed pipes at the wrong pitch.
Before you tackle a big job yourself, you will want to do your research. Find out what the code calls for in pipe sizing, fixture spacing, etc.
Fortunately, plenty of reference guides exist. Get a copy of the International Plumbing Code, the Uniform Plumbing Code, or Code Check, a handbook that's updated in conjunction with building codes.
Invest in the proper tools.
If you’re going to tackle real plumbing projects, you need to invest in tools. For example, if you want to make a neat watertight or gas-tight joint, you will need:
- Pro-level tubing cutters
- Reciprocating-saw blades
- Hacksaw blades
- Plastic pipe saw
For kicks, compare a professional tubing cutter and the $5 bargain. You’ll see a huge difference. Likewise, the plastic pipe saw is much cleaner than a saw intended for wood.
Prep your project carefully.
Let’s say you’re still working on that joint. You’ll want to:
- Remove burrs from copper using plumber’s cloth (aluminum-oxide sandpaper on a spool)
- Prepare plastic piping with primer that will soften the plastic so the adhesive will bond properly
- Use pipe cleaner before applying primer
The small amount of time spent prepping will result in a much better watertight or gas-tight joint, and you know it’s important to get these sorts of things right or you’ll be dealing with leaks down the road. Always prepare before plumbing.
Learn how to seal the deal.
Soldered or glued joints don’t need sealant, but everything else does. That means you need to get to know your sealants.
In most hardware stores, you’ll find two kinds of sealants: tape for sealing water connections (in a blue spool) and tape for sealing gas (in a yellow spool).
However, pros usually carry brushable types of sealant specially formulated for threaded plastic or galvanized steel. Check out a plumbing supply warehouse or shop online to find professional grade sealant. Professional varieties have a higher percentage of gap-filling solids and better ensure a tight joint. Practice making a tight joint to discover which sealants work best.
Take it easy when tightening.
It’s tempting to think: if tight is good, really tight must be better. Right? Wrong. Over-tightening can cause wrench-damage, especially when working with brass-copper fittings. Hand tighten or carefully use a wrench to tighten, being careful not to push it too far.
Leak test every single time.
You may have been successful in the past, but it’s important to always do a leak inspection before you declare a project finished. It should be obvious: Make a thorough leak inspection before closing up and moving on.
Want to Learn More About Plumbing?
Check out our DIY posts for more pro plumbing tips. Not ready to tackle that project on your own, or got stuck partway through? It’s okay! Just give us a call at 704-846-5371 and we’ll finish that project for you.
Quick question & answer: What are the best tips to help me level up my plumbing game?
There are tips that will help you level up your plumbing game like a professional. Locate your pipes before you do any construction. Learn plumbing code. Invest in the proper tools. Prepare your project carefully. Learn how to seal the deal. Take it easy when tightening. Leak test every single time.