10 Ways to Avoid DIY Plumbing Disasters

10 Ways to Avoid DIY Plumbing Disasters

Knowing how to fix common problems around the home is a great idea for any homeowner. Unfortunately, some of the most common plumbing problems stem from badly done DIY plumbing jobs. Usually the solution is for homeowners to take more time learning about the intended repair and be thoroughly prepared before beginning the job. One of the best ways to avoid plumbing disasters is to familiarize yourself with common mistakes. We’ll review the specifics of 10 of the most common mistakes in do it yourself plumbing so you’ll know what to avoid next time you start feeling handy.

1- Know How to Turn off the Water– This is one of the most common plumbing problems. If we had one piece of advice for homeowners, it would be to find the main water shut off before you have a problem. For any projects, you can simply turn off the water to the fixture you are repairing. But if something breaks or starts uncontrollably flooding, you’ll need to sprint to the main water shut off and know how to quickly turn it off. When in doubt, turn off the water before beginning a repair.

2- Don’t Forget to Remove the Garbage Disposal Knockout Plug– Installing a new garbage disposal is a very common DIY task. You think the job has gone great, but when you run the dishwasher, you find it is full of water. Uh oh. You forgot to remove the knockout plug and properly hookup the dishwasher to the garbage disposal.

3- Join Dissimilar Metals With the Correct Connector– If two different types of metals touch or are joined by an electrolyte like common tap water, one of the metals will start to corrode. Why does this happen? Quick chemistry lesson: all metals have a specific electrode potential. When two dissimilar metals are joined, the metal with the higher electrode potential will corrode cause metal with the lower electrode potential to corrode.  If you are attempting to join two pieces of dissimilar metal, you need a dielectric union. Dielectric unions are a type of fitting that insulates the two types of metals and prevents corrosion.

4- Document Taking Things Apart So You Can Put Them Back Together. This seems simple, but we often get calls from people who have taken apart faucets and shower heads and now cannot get the fixtures back together again. Not every faucet or shower head is the same! Best practice: save all of your instructions in a home file so you can get them out again when it is time to work on something. Otherwise, take pictures with each step when you are disabling a fixture so you can put it back together again.

5- Don’t Over Crank Faucet Handles– Cranking down the faucet handle will not stop leaks and it often breaks the handle. If the faucet is leaking, you’ll need to disassemble the faucet and fix the problem from there.

6- Don’t Over Tighten Plumbing Fittings– It seems like you would want the tightest seal possible on plumbing fittings to avoid leaks, but over-tightening can strip threads. Tightening plumbing fittings is actually a skill that plumbers get a feel for over time. Basic rule: hand tight is good, don’t keep cranking.

7- Don’t Turn on the Water Heater Until it is Full of Water– Scenario: You turn off the water heater before going on vacation to save money. Disaster: You turn the water heater back on before it has filled with water and have now destroyed a hot water heater. When installing a new water heater or turning your existing water heater back on, make sure it is completely full before turning on the power.

8- Break the Addiction to Drain Cleaner– Put down the chemical drain cleaner! It is bad for pipes and hazardous to your health. Always try to unclog drains and toilets with a plunger first. Want to step up your DIY game? Purchase a drain auger to get rid of even the toughest clogs.

9- Increase Your Knowledge– Do not just dive into a job and start taking things apart. Take the time to read a book on general home plumbing so that you know how the entire system works. Then, look at your home’s plumbing and identify what you have read in the book. When it is time to do a specific job, make sure you are familiar with every step and have all the tools you need to complete the job. Which brings us to our final tip:

10- Have the Right Tools– Every homeowner needs a basic toolkit. If you are thinking about a DIY plumbing job, you’ll need to expand your toolkit. There is nothing worse then being halfway through a job only to find out you are missing a tool or part. This problem is even worse if the hardware store isn’t open.

DIY plumbing can be a great way to expand your home repair know-how and save money on labor. One of the best ways to avoid plumbing disasters is to invest time on the project, not just the time of performing the repair, but also thoroughly learning your home’s plumbing and how to perform the task. With the proper preparation, knowledge, and tools, every homeowner can master do-it-yourself plumbing.