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How do you learn plumbing skills?

Plunger.jpgIf you want to have some fun without the worries about wrecking anything in the house, go down to your local Bunnings and grab an external tap, one that includes all your valves and washes. Take it apart bit by bit. You will get to see where the washer sits the valve and the pressure it takes to undo and do the parts up.


I found this helpful years ago because the principles are almost exact with internal and external taps and shower head replacement of valves and washes.


And I know people hammer YouTube a lot but for learning how to do minor repairs it’s great. - gippslandhome


Some TAFEs offer intro courses to plumbing which teach you the basics. - ProjectPete


A lot depends on where you live. Queensland is the most strict I think, you can change a tap washer and that is about it. In SA, TAFE has a basic home and building maintenance course that runs for 10 weeks at a cost of $520. - Brad


Amassing an Audience

Hi @Jason,
Plumbing work is reasonably simple, however it does have some sticking points to it.
Things can go badly wrong all of a sudden if you don't approach things correctly.
If you're working with brass fittings (or any plumbing fittings) you need to be rather gentle when you tighten things up, using the wrong tools to do this can also cause things to get stripped, mangled or generally bent out of shape, which is not the desired result.
Brass is one of them metals that is quite brittle and if you over-tighten a brass fitting, it will usually split
along it's section all of a sudden.

One other thing, is thread-tape (or PTFE tape), it is a common mis-conception that this tape is used to seal threads, all this tape does is lubricates the thread as the fitting(s) are tightened, the fact that it effects a seal is purely coincidental, not using enough thread tape will ensure that a fitting will leak.

Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Hi @MikeTNZ


I totally agree, I believe that plumbing is an acquired skill and you must have experience if you are to attempt any kind of repair. I've seen split brass caps from too much PTFE tape, cross-threaded cistern taps, split O-rings and a host of other disasters. But I suppose you need to pass through these trials in order to gain experience.




Just Starting Out

I have taught myself over time, and will continue to learn. You defintiely need the right tools and time, and often that all adds up to costing more than a plumber.


But yes plumbing (single story residential) is relatively simple, as in, not complex systems of systems. One of the best things I did was to walk around new builds in new estates/sub-divisions, and have a look how it all goes together. I noticed recently some new houses are entirely push-fit (shark bite) fittings which I thought a little surprising, but time is money I guess. Almost no copper anywhere these days.



Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Hi @KenSmith


I totally agree it takes time and the proper tools. My kids wouldn't know what a filling valve is even if they sat on it. I sometimes worry that I've neglected this part of their education. Push fittings are very popular in new construction housing, gone are the days of all copper construction. 


Thank you for sharing your experience.




Kind of a Big Deal

Plumbing skills? Trial and error for me - probably a ratio of 10:1


G'day Ken! @KenSmith 


"Almost no copper anywhere these days."


Wow! Interesting to know. I'm certain I don't belong to the 21st century.

My plumbing knowledge was handed down to me by my father and it would all be outta date now.


However, around 12 years ago I was determined to resurrect some of the old ways. I managed to cut a tapered thread on my old galvanised water pipe and divert an outdoor tap to a better area. A glory moment in my life.








Amassing an Audience

Hi@ Noyade,

Mate, I remember them threading tools back in the formative years of me being an Electrical Apprentice ( they do come in non-plumbing sizes) that and Bramley pipe benders, I grew to hate steel electrical conduit.

Absolute manual labour on the part of the "Boy", you knew you did a decent days work after a 10 hour day on that stuff!

Especially when your "Man", (now called your Supervisor) would stand over you and just watch you make every mistake in the book, marking you down with every wrong move on the clip-board.

But, times have changed for the better, plumbing and electrical work has got so much easier than it was 30 or even 20 years ago.


These days, the best way to deal with plumbing, is to "get your hands dirty", provided you aren't working on anything that a registered plumber should be working on in the first place.

Everyone that owns a house should know how/where to turn off the cold and hot water supply to the whole house, usually when the cold supply is turned off, the hot water is also isolated (as in has no pressure).

Just be careful with that, as there may be a separate feed for the HW Cylinder.

Everyone should know this in case of emergency.


Mike T.


Just Starting Out

Yes @Noyade very little brass indeed. A plumber told me sharkbite is used exclusively in high rise residential nowadays - not sure if true, but I can see how it make sense.


What I noticed at the new etstate was how different rough-in plumbing was - I guess each volume builder has a preference for b-press, olive etc. I think Brazing / soldering will always have its place, but 'time is money' with modern builds so the fit-off gets as little time as it needs before in come the plasterers. 

I'm doing a bathroom reno soon, but no chance I would do the plumbing for that. Sure I want it signed off and it would take me ages given the updgrading of sewerage that needs to take place. I've connected my external shower but that's it. 

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