How to learn basic plumbing skills

Written by j. lang wood
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How to learn basic plumbing skills
Plumbing repairs require special tools and knowledge. (faucet image by Laura Dynan from

The cost of having an experienced, professional plumber make plumbing repairs in your home may be prohibitive. But with a little training in basic plumbing skills and the right tools, you can repair a leaking basement pipe, a dripping sink, or a toilet that won't flush. If you have mechanical aptitude and a willingness to keep trying until you master a skill, you can do your own plumbing repairs and save hundreds of dollars a year.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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  1. 1

    Purchase plumbing tools. There a few tools that are used routinely in plumbing repairs such as a basin wrench, an adjustable wrench, a pipe wrench, a plunger, a plumber's snake, a hacksaw, tongue-and-groove pliers, a metal file, and a propane torch. You can buy these tools in an prepackaged kit either online or at your local home improvement store.

  2. 2

    Take a course. Enrol in an adult education course in basic plumbing repair. Evening classes are frequently offered in practical skills such as plumbing so working adults can attend. You can even find specialised plumbing repair courses for women or for seniors on a fixed income who are trying to save money during retirement. These courses usually span a few weeks with class sessions held 1-2 times per week. They are affordable and can be fun to take with other adult students.

    Many online courses that teach basic plumbing skills are also available, and they provide instructional videos that show step by step how to make a repair. If you have time constraints or transportation problems, consider taking an online plumbing course.

    Another option is to check with your local technical school. Technical schools may offer basic courses in many of the fields in which they train full-time students.

    If none of these is available in your area, then learn from a master. For example, if you know someone who is good at home maintenance projects, ask if you can look over his shoulder while he works. Take notes during the project and follow up with questions at the end.

  3. 3

    Practice your new skills. Dive in and try a few plumbing jobs. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Plumbing is a skill where the techniques learnt in each and every experience slowly add up to lead to mastery.

Tips and warnings

  • Your local library is a good source for useful books on plumbing and home maintenance. For example, the Time-Life Home Improvement series offers step-by-step directions on how to make specific repairs. Your library may also have CDs and instructional videos to guide you through your plumbing repairs.

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