Avoiding Common Plumbing Mistakes

When you aren't trained in plumbing, it is easy to make mistakes when trying to perform plumbing repairs or remodels. Professionals in the field often train for many years before they are free to enter homes and start working on the plumbing work. Unless you have some training in the industry, there's a chance that you won't know a lot of the knowledge that a fully-trained contractor will... and you might make a few of these common DIY plumbing mistakes. 

1 - Forgetting to turn the water off.

This might seem like the most obvious starting point, but you would be surprised how many DIYers actually forget this part of the job. As you can probably imagine, forgetting to turn the water off before starting your DIY plumbing project will more than likely lead to leaks or floods. These can cause catastrophic and costly amounts of damage to floors, walls, ceilings, the electrical system, and many other parts of your home. 

How to avoid it: Before starting any DIY job around the home, always make a list of steps — step one: research the project; step two: list of materials and equipment, etc.

Make sure that one of those steps is to turn the water off — before you start any work. 

2 - Overzealously tightening connections. 

When you connect pipes that carry water, you'll want those connections to be tight enough to keep things leak-free. At the same time, however, there is such a thing as too tight. If you overzealously tighten them and then go too far, you risk causing small cracks or breaks in the threading and/or other parts of the connection. These tiny patches of damage might not be obvious to you straight away, but if ignored, they can go on to cause small leaks which then go on to be large floods. 

How to avoid it: Tighten, but don’t tighten too much. Let your sense of touch guide you: if it feels like you’re really having to force the connection to tighten further, you're probably at the point at which you should stop. 

3 - Not using the right tools. 

The thing with DIY projects, especially when the job is a specialist one, is that you will often need to use tools and equipment that you might not have on hand. How many times have you improvised and used a knife from the kitchen in place of a screwdriver? 

Improvising during plumbing work and using a tool that isn’t quite right for the job could lead to a lot of damage to pipes, connections, the sink/toilet/other bathroom fixtures, supply tubes, and more. If you damage those items, you will then need to repair and/or replace those items… and that will cost you even more money. 

How to avoid it: The answer to this one is simple, but probably not what you want to hear. Hiring a professional, trained, licensed and insured plumber is the best way to avoid problems like this one. A reliable, reputable and recommended plumber will have everything they need for virtually every job. If they don't, they’ll know how to get their hands on it. 

4 - Not knowing which drain/other fittings to use.

Just like not using the right tools, sometimes drain fittings and other parts of the plumbing system are improvised, using parts that aren't exactly designed for the job, or putting things at weird angles so that they no longer work optimally. Sometimes, these improvisations can be code violations that could not only see you in hot water with local authorities but could also void your home insurance. Alongside that, dangerous gasses from sewer systems can enter the home if plumbing parts are not installed in the correct manner. 

How to avoid it: Do your research and make sure that you know which part should be used for the job. If you can't be sure, or you can't find the right information, speak to a trained plumber. 

5 - Not buying spares. 

Although some plumbing parts will be relatively easy to get your hands on in hardware stores or online, a few parts could be hard to come by. If you order a part and then break it when it arrives, you’ll be left stranded for a few more days until you can buy or order a new one. 

Make sure you have plenty of washers and similar peripheral parts. And don’t forget to make a note of sizes, models, and other important information to make it easier to buy parts in the future. 

How to avoid it: If you’ve had a bit of a struggle buying a specific part, buy two or three of them, if you can afford it, when you do manage to find it. Otherwise, you’ll have a hard time finding that part in the future, should you need to do further repairs.