Home Plumbing Projects You Can Totally Handle Yourself

Plumbing projects can seem a bit daunting at first, but they really don’t have to be. Here are eight common plumbing repairs and replacements that you can do yourself, no experience necessary.

We’ve talked before about home electrical projects you can handle on your own and now it’s time to tackle plumbing. The projects we’re covering here mostly deal with repairing things like running toilets and leaky faucets, and replacing fixtures like faucets and shower heads. These are beginner-level projects that are fairly easy to do and can save you a lot of money if you tackle them yourself.

First: Know What You Can Handle, and When to Get Help

The projects we’ve laid out here are particularly simple, but plumbing can be tricky, so if you’re ever unsure, don’t be afraid to ask for help. These projects are all pretty straightforward, but you never know what will come up, especially with older homes. We’ve selected some pretty good videos, but do some research and find some other videos if something about your setup looks a little different. The Internet is a wonderful thing.

If you have questions about what parts to buy for your fixtures, the folks at the hardware store will most likely have an answer for you. Come equipped with the brand and model of your fixture and, even better, some pictures. They’ll point you in the right direction. And if at any point you feel like you’re in over your head, call a plumber. Even if you think you have the skills to do the job, there might be codes involved and you often need a permit.

Turn the Water Supply Off

Before you get involved with most plumbing projects, you’ll need to shut off the water flowing to whatever you’re working on. Most of the time, there are easy-to-access gate valves or compression Cobra 85250 PISTOL GRI... Best Price: $13.96 Buy New $17.00 (as of 05:50 EDT - Details) valves that you can turn with your hand. Turn them clockwise all the way to turn off the water and counter-clockwise to turn it back on when you’re done. For sinks, look under the sink and you’ll usually see two valves—one for hot water and one for cold. On kitchen sinks, you might also see valves for the ice maker on your fridge or your dishwasher. Just turn them all off. For toilets, the valves are on the wall or right on the pipe behind the toilet.

If you can’t find, or can’t access, a shut-off valve for a fixture, you’ll need to turn off your main water supply. This is often the case with bathtubs and showers, where the plumbing is inside the wall. You might find an access panel on the wall behind the fixtures, but more often you won’t.

Finding the main water supply shut-off can be tricky. Sometimes, you can find a main shut-off valve in your house; sometimes you’ll need to shut it off at the street. Check out the video above from Mr. Rooter to get an idea of locations and types of shut-off valves you’ll encounter.

After you’ve turned off the valves, turn on the water at the fixture to make sure you’ve turned off everything you need to.

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