Doing plumbing chores around your home can save you money. Plus, it gives you a real feeling of accomplishment. There are many types of minor problems with older homes that you can do on your own, things such as clogged drains or leaky faucets.

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But, before you get started, there are a few ground rules you ought to be aware of because it is very easy for a minor plumbing project to turn into a major disaster if you don’t know what you are doing. Just be sure to avoid the most common DIY plumbing mistakes and you’ll be fine.

  1. Know where your shut-off valves are.

This is probably the most important information for you to learn. You need to find out where all of the shut off valves are in the house and exactly what they control. And, most important, you need to know where the main shut-off valve is for the entire house. Most often, it is located where the water line goes into your house.

  1. Learn how to sweat a copper pipe.

This is a basic plumbing skill that every do-it-yourselfer should know. And it’s not hard to learn: it should take you only about 30 minutes. You won’t be an expert, but you should be able to do it well enough to take care of pipes in your house.

Briefly, what you do is clean the copper pipe, put some flux around the end and inside the pipe, put the pipes together. Then using a torch, heat the joint using a solder.

  1. Learn about the plumbing system in your house.

First of all, it’s a good idea to get a few books on plumbing and learn some of the basics. For example, what does a vent pipe do, how big should drain pipes be, what is the amount of pitch a waste pipe should have?

Then look around your house and get a sense of how your plumbing works and where the pipes and valves are.

  1. Make sure you have the right tools.

Before you even begin, make sure you have a complete set of plumbing tools. That way, you won’t have to interrupt your work to run to the hardware store to get a tool that you need.

These are just a few tips to get you started as a do-it-yourselfer. They follow the idea that preparation is just as important as the actual work. And, as always, if you are not sure what you need to do, or find yourself in over your head, cut your losses and call in a professional.

Plumbing Dynamics has been helping beginning plumbing DIY-ers in the Dallas region for more than a quarter century. If you find yourself in over your head when it comes to a plumbing issue that you find is over your head, contact your trusted local plumber.