Fine Homebuilding Project Guides
Trusted, comprehensive guidance from the pros for tackling any plumbing project
Most of us know how to fix a leaking faucet or unclog a blocked sink, but when it comes to the largely hidden system of pipes and vents behind the walls it's a different story. This comprehensive guide will help you understand the plumbing system in your home and give you the confidence to tackle any plumbing project, whether it's as straightforward as fixing a running toilet or as complex as plumbing a basement bathroom. So whatever the job, be it a simple repair or a major installation, let the master plumbers who have contributed to this guide show you the way.
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The basics of plumbing are simple: Supply lines of copper or plastic deliver water to the fixtures in a house and drain lines carry water and waste away. In this opening chapter, we delve a little deeper into the supply and drain-waste-vent systems to give you a firm grounding in residential plumbing. You'll learn about relatively new PEX tubing, the various types of plumbing valves and fittings available, and how to choose plumbing cement and sealant. And with advice on the essential plumbing tools you need, you'll be ready to tackle any of the projects in this guide.
Considering its relative size, there's more plumbing in a bathroom than in any other part of the house. Every bathroom has at least one sink, and most sink projects are DIY-friendly—whether it's replacing a bathroom faucet or installing a pedestal sink. From there, we move onto the slightly more complex (but still doable) topic of bathtub and shower projects, with guidelines for everything from replacing a tub to installing an outdoor shower. The chapter wraps up with that perennially popular task: installing a toilet.
Everyone knows that the kitchen is one of the most-used rooms in the house, and from a plumbing perspective the kitchen sink is kitchen-central. In this chapter, you'll learn how to install various types of kitchen sinks (easier than you might think), and, once the sink is in place, how to filter out contaminants from the drinking water. Plumbing also comes into play with the refrigerator and dishwasher, and we'll show you how to connect an ice maker and hook up a dishwasher. And last but not least, you'll find guidelines for installing a garbage disposal.
"Roughing in" involves all those parts of the plumbing system that are hidden away behind walls and under floors. We see the faucets, showerheads, and toilets, but supply lines and drain lines are largely out of sight. Laying out and assembling this network of pipes and parts takes skill and practice, but our master plumbers are here to show you how. You'll learn how to run pipes through walls, floors, and ceilings, and how to work with copper pipe, PEX tubing, and PVC drainpipe.
Water Heaters, Washers, and More
In this chapter, we'll move out of the main living quarters of the house and into the basement and utility rooms. Here you'll find water heaters, filtration systems, and (often) washers and dryers. In the past, the main choice for a water heater was between a gas-fired and an electric-fired storage tank. Now in the mix are tankless on-demand water heaters and heat-pump water heaters. In this chapter you'll also find advice and installation tips for whole-house water filters and softeners, sump pumps, sprinkler systems, and laundry-room appliances.
Maintenance and Repair
All plumbing fixtures and appliances are going to need maintenance and repair at some point, but thankfully many of the repairs are relatively easy. Changing a faucet, unblocking a sink, and fixing a running toilet, for example, are all quick repairs that anyone with the right tools can make. Other repairs like fixing leaky copper pipe or improving water pressure may require a little more skill, but all are doable as long as you follow the expert advice from the pros that you'll find in this last chapter of the guide.