First 3 lessons of Plumbing course … and fixing a choke (just this morning!)

was simple enough … the first two lessons were “theory” and Friday was the practical. The class learnt about various materials, joints and tools used in plumbing works (includes water, gas, sanitary), and some specifications for fitting various common fixtures (e.g. height of wash basin should be 800 to 850 mm from floor level). The practical involved an introduction to the workshop and tools (in theory lesson, we just see the pictures of the tools), sawing galvanised iron pipe (100 mm, 5 pieces) with a hacksaw, and using a copper tube cutter to cut 8 pieces of copper tube (120 mm).

Doing this course is item 5 on my Fifty before 50 list but am glad I finally took the plunge!! It was quite by chance that on 27 Feb 2015 (Friday), I was just randomly surfing and decided to email BCA (Building and Construction Authority) about when the course would start. The reply came like 30 min later that it was on the following Monday 2 March, and that I would need to go down and sign up and pay fees by 5 pm. So, I took my bicycle and cycled through both parts of Bishan Park, and the park connector to Braddell Road (where BCA is located) and signed up (fees are $850 by the way, unless company sponsored; unfortunately, am ahead of the SkillsFuture thingey)!


Why plumbing?? Well, after a few occasions in the past when I had to repair some simple leaks, change taps, and seeing how plumbers fixed our choked pipe and mend a burst garden pipe, I decided that it was work that involved a lot of skill (e.g. problem solving, technical) and therefore, worth investing my time!! (not to mention that you pay quite a bit when you call a plumber, who then just solves the problem in less than 30 minutes).

Just the last couple of weeks, we had a choke somewhere (our domestic helper had been having this flooding situation where she does her clothes washing) and pouring the “chokage removal liquid” each time it occurred didn’t seem to solve the problem well (this method was used on three separate occasions of choking, only for it to recur soon after). So, it was time to adopt a different approach … using the “snake” (or “extendable cleaning road” in my course notes below).


After doing some preliminary diagnostic work (this is actually the fun “mental” part of plumbing, where you have to figure out what is most likely happening in terms of where the blockage is), I set out with the “snake” to try to dislodge the blockage. My first attempt pushing the “snake” into a pipe (purple in diagram below) was a total FAIL; opening any one of three taps immediately led to flooding. Wrong diagnosis!


I then realised there was another pipe (orange in diagram) that I could push the “snake” through after feeling for that pipe in the water trap; it was not visible as it was all under the dirty water, and this time it worked!!! woohoo!

Lesson learnt – persevere, diagnose correctly, and check your assumptions!! (I was misled in a way by our helper who was totally convinced that the blockage was at A above, haha, when there was no pipe there!)



Filed under Fifty before 50, Life Lessons

4 responses to “First 3 lessons of Plumbing course … and fixing a choke (just this morning!)

  1. Hi, I am thinking of taking up the plumbing course you mentioned, could you share your thoughts on the course? I am not plumbing/construction trained and am not working in the industry too

    • Hi Jason,
      the course is useful to equip homeowners with knowledge and basic practical skills to do simple repairs at home. You will get to work with iron and copper pipes for most of the practical lessons although this is not quite relevant nowadays as most pipes used at home are PVC. The theory lessons I found to be rather slow going, while for practical, be prepared to work in a non-aircon workshop setting.

      It does take up some time though (3 times a week, although usually start a little late, and ends earlier then published time of 6 pm to 10 pm most days, with a break around 7 plus).

      So, if you have time and money to spare (most participants are from the industry, so they were sponsored by their company), can consider. Otherwise, I will say that for most maintenance/repair work you can do at home, just use Youtube/internet to search for how to do it.

      Hope above was useful!! 🙂

  2. Certainly useful. Thanks. Would you say the course will train me enough to set up a company that does basic plumbing repair works?

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