Bathroom Plumbing Tips

Do-it-yourself bathroom plumbing can save you a significant amount of money if you only take on small to moderate sized jobs and know what you're doing. Follow these tips to make any plumbing repairs go as smoothly as possible.

Check Local By-Laws

Some states, regions and countries do not allow home owners to do their own bathroom plumbing. Make sure that there aren't any restrictions regarding this in your municipality. Failing to do so could result in charges or difficulty renting or selling your property. Check to make sure that no permits are required for the type of bathroom plumbing you would like to do. Small jobs like replacing a toilet rarely require permits, but if you're considering taking on a major plumbing job, you might have to pay for a building permit.

Be Safe

Water and electricity don't mix, and you can seriously hurt or even kill yourself by electric shock if you don't take necessary precautions to protect yourself. Before completing any bathroom plumbing, disconnect the electrical source by turning off the power to a fuse or (in older homes) breaker box. Don't assume that the electricity is off just because you've turned off the fuse. Test the circuit before attempting any work.

Wear goggles, protective gloves and headgear when necessary. Tools have insulated handles for a reason, so be sure to hold them by the handles to reduce injury or electrical shock. Wear rubber-soled shoes and be observant as you work so you don't cut yourself on sharp edges.

Get the Basic Tools

It's important to have a few basic tools in order to do any bathroom plumbing work. Here are some tools you should have:

  • Pipe wrenches: Buy an 18-inch, a 14-inch and a 10-inch so that you'll have wrench to accommodate any size pipe.
  • Basic wrenches: Choose ones with swivel jaws and long handles to make gripping faucet attachments much easier.
  • Tubing cutters: Get a mini and a standard-sized one to cut efficiently through copper pipes, even in tight spaces.
  • Plumber's cloth or circular wire brush: To remove debris from pipes before soldering them.
  • Torch: To solder pipes. A simple propane torch with a screw-on system is good for the DIYer.
  • Level: To make sure pipes are level.
  • Drill: Corded or cordless. Use to drill holes for pipes through studs and joists.
  • Cola: To remove rust from a bolt or clear a sluggish drain.
  • Magnet: To remove metal objects like bobby pins from a drain. 
  • Plunger: Choose one with good suction power and a heavy rubber head.

Prevent Frozen Pipes

One of the biggest bathroom plumbing problems next to clogged sinks and toilets are frozen pipes. Frozen pipes can damage your home by bursting and spilling hundreds of gallons of water within minutes. Regularly examine pipes under sinks on outside walls, in outside walls and in unheated crawl spaces.

To prevent this from happening, cover pipes with foam rubber or insulation, and secure with tape as needed. Heat the pipes regularly with a hair dryer, heat lamp or small portable heater. If the pipe has already frozen, be sure to open the faucet before thawing so that the frozen blockage can move out of the pipes.