Let's go to the mailbag today for a question from a reader:
Can I Do Plumbing Myself?
|Do Plumbing Yourself and Save Money!|
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Read your article on updating older home inexpensively. Interesting and informative article.
One thing that we need to do in our older home is to replace the bathroom sink pop up drain. Ours is old and discolored while the sink is old but in good shape.
Is it difficult to do for someone with no plumbing experience??? Our plumber has a minimum charge which is expensive. Thank you"
Thanks for mentioning my article on cheap ways to update an older home! As you may know, I am a staff writer at Wise Bread and my articles are syndicated on sites including time.com, Kiplinger, Christian Science Monitor, Money Magazine, and other top sites around the nets. You can read the article 19 Frugal (And Easy) Ways To Upgrade An Old Home at Wise Bread.
In this article, I mentioned a couple plumbing-related upgrades, including replacing a bathroom sink and replacing a kitchen sink. These projects involved working with both plumbing supply lines and the drain lines too. Actually, the kitchen sink was an even bigger project than I indicated in the article. We tore out the cabinets and cut off the copper supply pipes about a foot off the floor and rebuilt everything from there.
I agree that plumbers are expensive. I have been billed around $75 to $100 per hour for plumbing. Sometimes plumbing companies send more than one plumber, and you get billed even more for that. That is why I started figuring out how to do plumbing myself years ago.
The biggest problem with doing your own plumbing is leaks. I think everyone's first few plumbing projects are likely to leak. A leaky drain is less of a problem since it only leaks when you turn on the water. A leaky supply is much worse since that can leak all the time. The damage can range from water stains up to serious water damage.
The key to doing your own plumbing is to check for leaks and keep re-doing it until it doesn't leak anymore. If you can't get it to stop leaking yourself, you'll need to call a plumber. If you don't want to mess around with checking for leaks and re-doing things you might be better off just calling a plumber right off the bat.
But with practice and experience, your plumbing work is less likely to leak. And if it does leak, it gets easier to figure out why and solve the problem.
The next biggest problem with doing your own plumbing is lots of trips back and forth to the store to try to find the right parts. There are so many sizes and materials that it sometimes takes me a few tries to get the right parts that fit together correctly. Often, it is hard to know exactly what parts you need until after you have taken apart what you are working on.
Even with all of the hassle of doing plumbing yourself, you can save a lot of money if you are patient and careful to do the job right. I like to do my own plumbing whenever I can.
Changing a pop-up drain should be a pretty simple project. This only involves the drain, so if it doesn't work out, you can avoid any leaks or damage simply by waiting to use that sink until everything is working right.
I would start by reading some articles about how to replace a pop-up drain. I have an old Bob Vila home improvement book that I like to read before starting a new project. You can also find articles like this one on the interenet: How to Replace a Pop-up Drain.
It looks like you need to replace a bit of the drain assembly below the sink as well as the pop-up fixture that you can see from above the sink. I would carefully disassemble the parts and then take the parts you removed into the home improvement shop to find suitable replacement parts. If it doesn't work out for some reason, keep the receipt and you'll be able to get your money back or get different parts.
Best of luck!
Dr. Penny Pincher