There is a lot to know if you are going to get into the plumbing field, but if you are a homeowner and you are handy you can do a lot of plumbing yourself. In this article I am going to go over some plumbing basics that can either help you repair things around the house or help you decide if becoming a plumber is for you.
Types of Plumbers
There are five main categories. Industrial, institutional, commercial, residential, and service. Each of these will require you to work as an apprentice for four years and spend eight weeks of each year in school. You can take a little longer to complete but not much or you will be kicked out of the trade. For instance if you go to school at different times each year you might take 5 years to complete instead of 4, which is fine. But if you take 7 years then you may find yourself starting over so you should check with your locality to find out what they require of you.
Depending on the type of work you will be doing will tell you the kind of tools you will need. If you are always working in the service industry then you do not need to have tools that are required for large commercial projects.
The basics in the plumbing field pretty much cover things like faucet repair and replacement, sink and toilet repairs and replacements, repairing any leaks, and drain cleaning.
Most of these skills will take some practice to do really well with, but if you go slow and follow the instructions given you will be fine. For most jobs on a daily basis you will need these tools, hammer, screwdrivers, drywall saw, Allen wrenches, tape measure, pipe cutters, crimpers, torch, pex cutter, hacksaw, adjustable pliers, basin wrench, adjustable wrench, pipe wrench, and knife. These tools will get you through most plumbing jobs.
In some cases you will need a drill, reciprocating saw, jig saw, and maybe cast iron cutters.
In most cases if you are just doing a simple replacement you will be able to do this just with the hand tools. If you are doing some renovation work then you might need the power tools. Which if you do not have these you can rent at your local hardware store or rental outlet.
If you have never really done much plumbing work then like anything you should expect the process of repairing, installing or building to take you longer than for a full time plumber. For instance I did a job not long ago that the client was so fed up with installing a kitchen sink that he called me to install his bathroom sink. While I was working on his bathroom sink he asked how long and how much it would cost to install a kitchen sink. I said that most plumbers can do one in under two hours depending on what was involved. He was very handy, but still took him 6 hours to install his kitchen sink. Mostly spending time going back and forth to the store.
Which brings us to a very important step when doing any plumbing. Do you best to only go to the store for parts once. Any more and you are wasting too much time. If you hire a plumber and they make multple trips to the store then there is a problem. Yes, you can expect they will have to make one trip, but more than that tells you they are a little disorganized.
Most products that you buy will have the instructions on how to install the product. Of course this does not mean you will be able to do the work fast, but you can still do it good. Also you may come across something that just does not make sense, in which case you should call the number provided to get help. I have had a few product sheets that were printed off in mass and sent out when in fact these were wrong and never changed. This can be frustrating, but in the 22 years that I have been plumbing I can say this has only happened to me twice.