Self-help: are DIY courses the way forward?

With more and more people now deciding to do home improvements rather than move house, Do-It-Yourself (DIY) courses are on the rise. Whether it is how to wallpaper a room or how to lay a floor, there are courses for just about everything.

While courses that teach the skills needed for renovation are really useful, and can help home-owners save thousands of pounds, having basic knowledge in skills such as plumbing can also save a lot of money on call-out fees and labour. While much of the work involving pipes and, particularly gas, should be left to a certified expert, there are some smaller jobs that can be done quickly, if you have the know-how.

Basic plumbing know-how

A lot of plumbing firms and adult educational institutions are now running courses in basic plumbing, ideal for beginners looking to learn plumbing for DIY or handyman skills. Equally, these courses will cater for experienced people looking to extend their trade skills or perfect their plumbing skills, or those looking for a new career as a plumber.

Courses tend to vary depending upon who is offering it. Weekday or evening courses over a number of weeks, intensive weekend courses, or week-long course will all provide the foundations for plumbing skills and you can choose what time frame best suits you. You will usually also have the opportunity to ask about specific projects.

Expert advice

On such courses, tutors will normally be practising tradesmen and they work hard to ensure the atmosphere is relaxed and informal, although the teaching will be highly structured and well-planned.

Most courses advise you that you will get dirty so you should bring working clothes to the training course and steel-capped footwear should also be worn. Although the fees will vary from one course to another, the price should include the use of tools and materials for your plumbing course.

Again, while the structure of different courses may vary, good, basic plumbing courses should cover similar territory. Normally this will include the basics of household plumbing from fitting a tap washer through to achieving a good understanding of the hot and cold water supply systems, and a central heating system via theory and practical hands-on experience.

You should also gain practical experience on how to use compression fittings, as well as the installation of plastic waste systems using push fit and compression connection methods. On the course, you may also learn the correct use of alternative plumbing methods such as speed/push fit plumbing systems and associated connectors and pipe work.

Among the skills you will learn are:

  1. The installation of sanitary ware – bath, basin, shower, toilet
  2. Installation of new pipework
  3. Installation of a new radiator
  4. Plumbing in of a kitchen sink, washing machine and dishwasher
  5. Installation of an outside tap
  6. Bending and soldering copper pipe

In addition to the practical experience gained, you will also understand:

  • The hot and cold water system
  • The central heating system
  • Showers, pumps etc
  • The installation of sanitary ware
  • Above ground drainage
  • General plumbing procedures

Most courses will be taught via a mix of practical and theory work, with many course providers having model kitchen or bathroom units for the students to work upon.

A good plumbing course should give you the confidence, skills and knowledge to complete your own DIY projects, although we must emphasise that for anything beyond a basic plumbing job you should always call in the professionals.

Posted In: plumbers, plumbing