Monthly Archives: March 2017

4 Must Have Tools for DIY Plumbing Jobs

The average home has plenty of plumbing jobs that creep up and need your attention. Although it s not for the amateur and requires a healthy respect for the craft of plumbing, it is possible to tackle these projects yourself. To be better equipped and ready to handle anything, have these four tools handy when the plumbing calls.

1) Soldering

Many homeowners have a propane torch for soldering and that may be all that you need for smaller jobs. But if you re taking on an extensive plumbing project that requires a lot of soldering you should get your hands on an acetylene torch.

Hotter than propane, this torch will make soldering a breeze. Sourcing out the fuel may be a bit more difficult, but most local welding shops can hook you up with tanks and a fuel supply.

2) Cutting Copper Tubing

Yes, you can use a hacksaw. But if you want a smooth, precise cut that will result in the best fittings and a solid job invest in a quality tube cutter. It s a specialty tool with a hardened steel cutting wheel that fits around the tubing. You tighten the blade and the result is a fine cut that s generally free from the frayed and rough edges your hacksaw delivers.

3) Wrenches

Pipe wrenches are impressive things that look as if they could do genuine damage. You need to have a few different sizes on hand when you re tackling a plumbing project. Be sure to have at least a 14 pipe wrench and look for another one that s adjustable. Getting around that toilet and mastering those tight fits is much easier with good quality wrenches.

4) Laying the Pipe

Besides all of the tools to handle the actual plumbing and fittings, you will need a good reciprocating saw to make a path for the plumbing. Cutting through studs, flooring and ceilings with precision and speed is much easier with a reciprocating saw. The good news is that you ll find plenty of other uses for this tool, from woodworking to drywall repairs and running electrical wiring.

Besides all of these tools you ll also need the usual suspects: a good set of screwdrivers and plenty of pliers on hand; tape measure and levels for the planning and layout stages and marking tools like carpenter s pencils or chalk.

Make sure to invest in the best quality tool you can afford. Even if you will only use it every so often, you will appreciate that the tool is dependable and can take the abuse you re bound to hurl at it. Always clean and dry your tools after use and store them properly. It can be surprising that you need to dry your plumbing tools, but the components and parts will break down and corrode if not taken care of well.

Safety equipment is important when working with the saws and torches you ll need for DIY plumbing projects. Get yourself a pair of steel toed boots and safety goggles or a full mask before you start the planning stage. And don t forget to take out the proper permits.

Tips to Save Money When Hiring a Plumber

Plumbing is a necessity during many different renovation projects. And plumbing repairs will eventually crop up in your home no matter how well maintained it is. Although DIY plumbing projects can save you money, certain tasks, designs and situations are best left to a professional.

Does plumbing always have to be an expensive endeavor? With a little bit of know how and a lot of discernment you can save money when hiring a plumber and still end up with a job well done.

Choose Wisely

Be sure that you contact referred companies when searching for a plumber, those that have done work for friends or family. Go after contractors with a good reputation and a level of expertise that comes with time in the field. You might assume that they will be the most expensive, but when you try saving money with an inexperienced or cut throat contractor you re bound to pay in the end.

Get the Details

Always get the quotation for your plumbing job in writing. A number tossed about in conversation may sound great, but if you have an agreed to cost on paper there will be less surprises and potentially less cost overall.

If the contractor refuses to commit to a price for the job due to potential complications or unknowns, ask them to commit to an hourly rate and record the time spent on your project. In everything, make sure you have a record of what this project will cost you and leave nothing to chance.

Know Your Stuff

Plumbing is a complicated trade and many homeowners panic when water or flooding is an issue. That is when you are particularly vulnerable to being overcharged or charged for something you don t truly need.

Even if you can t complete a plumbing project yourself it pays to know as much as possible about how the systems work and what is necessary to repair them. Pick up a basic plumbing guide for homeowners and read it through. This will allow you to get familiar with the terminology and the use of the main components in plumbing.

If your contractor suggests something that you feel is unnecessary, this information will give you the ammunition you need to object or at the very least, question the plumber s suggestion.

Buy Fixtures Yourself

A simple way to save money when hiring a plumber is by purchasing the fixtures yourself. You ll save money on the markup and may even have a chance to pick up the desired faucet, tap, sink or toilet on sale.

Find out for sure whether the plumber will install a new fixture that they haven t provided and clarify whether their warranty is applicable on any fixtures that you purchase yourself.

Save Time

Many plumbers charge by the hour, meaning that if you can save them time, they will save you money. Try sourcing out a local plumber to cut down on travel costs. Also, while your plumber is on site, have them look after a variety of different plumbing situations at once. In that case, you ll save them having to come back to fix or replace another problem shortly afterward.

Plumbing projects are bound to come up and the services of a qualified plumber are highly valued. Save money where you can by hiring a reputable contractor, asking for the contract in writing, knowing the basics of house plumbing and purchasing your own fixtures. Also, while your preferred contractor is there, have them take care of any other plumbing projects you have, saving both time and money.

Top Five Design Tips for Your Plumbing Project

Most people think that since plumbing is behind the walls there is little value to a good design. But for the most efficient system that costs the least amount of money to install, plumbing design is essential.

There are three main elements needed in every plumbing system incoming water source, drainage for waste water and ventilation. Water obviously needs to come in and go out of your home through a path that makes sense. You must also include ventilation for the gases that accumulate in your plumbing system. When all of these come together you have yourself a well designed plumbing project.

Top Five Plumbing Design Tips

1) Codes Are Your Friends

Building codes provide a framework for construction projects within and around your home. Plumbing codes are no exception and allow you the freedom to design and build safe, efficient plumbing systems within the guidelines.

When you ignore the codes you run the risk of putting your own family in danger, as well as increasing the chance of property and environmental damage.

2) Plan For the Future

When you are taking on a large plumbing project (whether DIY or with the help of a plumber) it s best to design for your future needs as well as the necessities of today. Maybe you ve always wanted an ice maker in your fridge, but haven t purchased the appliance yet. By incorporating that plumbing need into your design the process will be much smoother when you do make that refrigerator purchase.

3) Inspections Must Be Passed

Just as following codes are important, the plumbing project in your home must pass an inspection. It is not enough to simply read up on the codes and follow them while you are working with waste water and ventilation systems. Without a properly designed plumbing project that follows all of the codes and passes the thorough inspection of a qualified (and certified) professional, there is a danger of serious and even fatal diseases occurring within the walls of your home.

4) Plumbing Materials Are Often a Matter of Preference

Whether you should opt for copper, galvanized, ABS or PEX pipe in your plumbing project is difficult to say. Most often ABS is used for waste water and ventilation, but copper is a popular choice for incoming water. More plumbers are choosing PEX, but this type of pipe is harder to work with and may cause headaches for the DIY crowd. Once you have your plumbing design layout you can price out the different types of plumbing material to help you make a decision. Be sure to ask what types of specialty tools and components may be needed for each particular type of piping.

5) Provide Plenty of Drainage and Easy Clean Ups

The general rule is that for every foot a horizontal pipe travels, it must drop 1/4″ to provide decent drainage. Plumbing design involves a lot of calculations in order to come up with the most efficient system. You can also go over and above those bare minimum requirements with handy features like a gravity hot water loop that re-circulates and provides heated water almost instantly at any fixture in your home. Also be sure to include plenty of clean outs along your plumbing lines to make clog removal easier.

Good plumbing design is achieved through education and experience. A plumber or plumbing consultant should be able to guide you through your project and provide an efficient design that covers the three main elements of incoming water, outgoing waste and ventilation. Follow the local building codes, book your inspection and decide which materials are best suited for your project. Don t forget to include future plumbing needs into your design and provide for decent drainage and easy clean outs. Your hard work will produce a top notch job when these plumbing design tips are put into practice.

Top Plumbing Repairs Best Left to the Professionals

Most people don t pay any attention to their plumbing until there is a problem. Then, depending on the scope of the issue, the condition of your plumbing will take center stage in your home. Plumbing repairs range from small issues like a leaky faucet to major problems like a burst valve. And the damage from faulty plumbing can be disastrous to your home and your wallet.

It pays to have the knowledge of a professional plumber on your side. But that knowledge comes at a price and many homeowners are attempting plumbing repairs on there own, taking the DIY route.

As with any specialty, there are certain things in plumbing that a novice or amateur can do and certain things best left to the professionals. If you run across these top plumbing repairs, don t hesitate call a pro before one problem turns into many.

Installing a Garbage Disposal System

Under the sink garbage disposals are a wonderful addition to your kitchen. They are convenient, cut down on waste headed for the landfill and help keep your home tidy. But they are also not something you want to attempt to install on your own.

Garbage disposals involve both plumbing and electrical work. The removal of the old disposal can get complicated and fitting in the flange is a tricky job that will require at least two sets of hands (for a beginner). In certain systems, the dishwasher is connected to the garbage disposal as well, making it an even more involved project.

Do the smart thing – when looking to have a new garbage disposal installed or when replacing your existing model, call a plumber for a fast, reliable job.

Gas Fittings and Running Gas Lines

Whether you are installing a gas BBQ or a new gas fireplace, running gas lines is a highly specialized skill. Natural gas is a dangerous fuel that can cause serious injuries when not installed properly and may even result in a fatality. Although you may be able to run the copper plumbing up to whatever appliance your connecting, only licensed plumbers and gas fitters should be handling valves and connections.

Gas lines need to be properly marked and run a certain way for safety. Having a gas line or gas appliance installed by a professional ensures that your family is protected from major accidents and dangerous levels of poisonous gas.

Fixing a Toilet That Leaks

Toilets are funny things. Although most of the time they operate well, a toilet in need of repair is generally useless. If your toilet is running constantly, a simple repair in the tank is often all that s needed. But when there is water seepage or leakage at the base of the toilet you will need the help of a pro to diagnose and repair.

Water should only be on the inside of your toilet, but when problems arise it will collect at the base and eventually cause mold, mildew and even rot to occur. Toilets that leak may be repairable. For example, adding insulation to the inside of a tank to stop the toilet from sweating is a simple fix. No matter what the problem, plumbers can steer you in the right direction when it comes to a leaky toilet and have your system back up and running in no time.

DIY plumbing is possible with the right tools and a little bit of know-how. But for garbage disposal installation, gas fittings and leaky toilets, as well as many other serious and urgent plumbing repairs, calling in a professional is the smartest thing to do.