How to Be Your Own Plumber


Plumbing is a key component in any modern home and plays an important role in supplying the property with clean water as well as eliminating waste and sewage. Cold and hot water pipes run throughout the home to ensure that every faucet, shower, bathtub, and water-using appliance has direct access to clean water. Drainage pipes are also connected to these fittings to efficiently dispose of dirty water and waste.

While plumbing systems may seem daunting at first, there are actually a variety of plumbing jobs that can be completed by an eager do-it-yourselfer with a little patience, a little skill and the right tools. Bob Vila’s collection of guides and how-to articles can help you become your own plumber so you don’t have to call in the professionals for every repair, maintenance task, or upgrade.

The first step in DIY plumbing is to assemble a tool kit and then inspect the plumbing system to determine where all the critical parts are located in the home, including the primary shutoff valve, water heater, main drain pipe and more. It is also worth noting that some homes may have additional plumbing components such as an irrigation system or a heating boiler. However, whether these additional devices are present or not varies from property to property.

To begin, do small plumbing jobs to become more familiar with the plumbing system. Clean the toilet, unclog the drain, replace the shower head, or even fix a running toilet to practice your plumbing skills while maintaining and updating the home. Rely on informative how-to articles and detailed DIY guides like these to learn how to become your own plumber.

A DIY plumber uses a hacksaw to cut PVC pipes for a plumbing repair.


Before you start any plumbing work around the house, you need to get some essential tools. Without the right equipment, plumbing repairs and upgrades can be much more difficult to complete. In general, do-it-yourself plumbers use plungers, drain snakes, and channellock pliers more often than any other tools because they are needed for most simple household plumbing jobs.

However, as you improve your DIY plumbing skills, you may decide to tackle more complex plumbing projects, such as repairing a leaky pipe, fixing low water pressure problems, or even replacing a shutoff valve. These jobs typically require a wider variety of plumbing tools and supplies, such as a hacksaw, torch, or drain auger. Make sure your tool kit includes the following commercially available tools to help you tackle home improvement projects on the path to becoming your own plumber.

  • saw: Used to cut metal pipes including lead, galvanized iron and copper. A hacksaw can also be used to cut bolts or remove stuck fasteners.
  • Pipe cutter: Designed for cutting plastic and metal pipes. Pipe cutters can be adjustable or made specifically for a pipe size.
  • torch: For those who are familiar with soldering copper pipes, a blowtorch is an important part of a DIY plumbing kit. Weld out copper connections, solder new connections and repair leaks.
  • Drain snake: Remove hair, soap scum, and other debris that may be caught in the sink or shower drain.
  • emptying screw: The long cable and unique head allow this tool to penetrate deep into the drainage system to break up or pull out clogs.
  • Channellock pliers: Grip, twist, pull or hold hardware, nuts, bolts and more with Channellock pliers.
  • Pipe wrench: The teeth of a pipe wrench dig into the metal to grip rounded nuts and pipes. Add a second pipe wrench to hold the pipe while you use the other to turn the fitting.
  • Pistons: Quickly clean the toilet with a plunger or use this tool to clear minor clogs in the sink, shower drain or bathtub.

Sinks and faucets

A person replaces a bathroom sink faucet.


Some of the most common DIY plumbing tasks include replacing a faucet, repairing a sink stopper, and clearing sink clogs. Beginners can start with simple tasks like cleaning a faucet aerator by carefully removing the aerator from the faucet, rinsing out debris, soaking the aerator in a vinegar cleaning solution, and then reinserting it.

The following guides provide informative step-by-step instructions for tackling any plumbing task from start to finish. You’ll also learn which clog-clearing products are safe and how to troubleshoot sink or faucet problems to keep the home running efficiently.

➤ How to Clean a Faucet Aerator
➤ Troubleshooting a slow drain
➤ How to replace a faucet
➤ Repair a bathroom sink stopper step by step
➤ How to fix a leaky faucet
➤ 9 Drano alternatives to clear clogs


A person holds a wrench near an open toilet cistern to do a plumbing repair himself.


Clogged toilets are so common that most homes have a knocker nearby in case someone uses too much toilet paper and the toilet clogs and overflows. However, DIY plumbers should also learn how to troubleshoot a running toilet, replace a flush valve, and repair a fill valve to ensure the toilet continues to function properly without wasting water.

Check out the list of helpful guides and educational articles below to learn more about how a toilet works, what components can be repaired, and what parts of the toilet should be replaced if a problem occurs. Plus, check out some of the most efficient toilet options available today if you’re thinking about upgrading one or more bathrooms in the home.

➤ How to unclog a toilet without a vacuum
➤ What to do if your toilet gurgles?
➤ How to replace a toilet seat
➤ Troubleshooting a toilet that doesn’t flush
➤ How to Replace a Toilet Fill Valve
➤ The best dual flush toilets for the bathroom

Showers and bathtubs

A person using DIY skills to install a replacement shower and bathtub faucet.


Showers and bathtubs are essential additions to any home, providing a waterproof sanctuary to wash away the day’s dirt, sweat and grime. Don’t settle for low-pressure showers, slow-draining tubs and leaky faucets when DIYers can learn how to replace a shower head, re-seal a tub, unclog the drain, install a new shower valve and more.

The following articles can help you become your own plumber by providing detailed step-by-step instructions for completing a variety of shower and bathtub maintenance and repairs. Find information about different repair methods and learn how to troubleshoot difficult problems to determine the cause and resolve the problem.

➤ 3 Methods to Unclog a Shower Drain
➤ How to Fix a Leaking Shower Head
➤ 8 surefire ways to increase water pressure
➤ How to replace a shower valve
➤ The best water saving shower heads
➤ How to properly seal a shower or bathtub

domestic appliances

A person opens a dishwasher that no longer drains water to make repairs to the pipes themselves.


Water-powered appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines and water heaters should be properly maintained to ensure they operate efficiently and last as long as possible before needing replacement. This may include flushing a water heater, replacing the hoses on a dishwasher, or repairing a hot water inlet valve to prevent water from leaking behind the washing machine.

Bob Vila’s tutorials on garbage disposals, dishwashers, and more can help you tackle simple plumbing repairs and maintenance tasks around the home. Learn how to troubleshoot appliance problems, make repairs yourself, or complete replacement projects without having to call a professional plumber.

➤ What to do if your dishwasher won’t drain?
➤ How to Install a Garbage Disposal
➤ Anode rod replacement step by step
➤ How to Fix a Leaking Water Heater
➤ What to do if your washing machine won’t fill up?
➤ How to fix water hammer

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