Whether you are a DIYer because you like to save a bit of money or because you enjoy fixing and improving your home yourself, be sure you are making smart decisions when you are working on your plumbing. Stupid DIY plumbing decisions usually lead to a costly emergency plumber visit. Or worse, it can devalue your home and cause major problems down the road. Before you pick up that wrench, be sure you aren’t committing any of these DIY plumbing blunders.
Not Turning Off the Water
One of the most common DIY plumbing mistakes is failing to turn off the water. Most fixtures have localized shutoffs, which many folks remember to turn off. But those fixtures sometimes fail or don’t exist at all. Even if you are turning off the water at the fixture, you should also turn off the water main, or at least know how to turn it off. You’ll find it somewhere in your home or condo building, and it turns off the water to your whole home.
Take a few minutes to find that main water valve before starting your work. For a safe operation, turn it off or have any tools you’ll need handy to do so. If you leave it on and something goes wrong, you’ll need to shut it off in a hurry.
Doing Unpermitted Work
Whether you live in town or out in the country, there are local building codes that include rules and regulations for plumbing. These codes cover everything from types of materials to placements of pipes. Codes are there for a reason: to help protect your home from shoddy or unsafe work.
Do a little research about codes while planning your work. Doing it right the first time will save you from countless problems in the future. Also, work that is not up to code can devalue your home, making your hard work cost you money instead of saving it.
Most new homes are built with PEX water supply lines and PVC or CPVC drain lines instead of copper and cast-iron. But, it isn’t that simple. Older homes or homes that have undergone renovations in the past can have a variety of pipes. If you are adding or moving plumbing, be sure you understand what the consequences could be. Some types of plastic and metals shouldn’t be matched. For example, copper connectors can cause corrosion when attached to galvanized pipes.
Consult with a professional before making any material changes. Ask a plumber for a consultation, or hire a home inspector. They can tell you what kind of pipes you have and what you should be using. They can also identify any preexisting problems that you should fix right away.
Using Too Much Drain Cleaner
When used safely and as directed, drain cleaner can save you time and headache. But, overusing it is one of the most common DIY mistakes. When used too much, it can eat away at metal and plastic and damage pipes, joints and fixtures. Moreover, frequent back-ups or slow drains can be a sign of a much larger problem. If your clog is persistent, call in the professionals. They have larger and stronger tools and the expertise to help you clear everything from toys to roots.
Getting in Over Your Head
The most costly DIY mistake is getting in over your head. Never take on a job which you suspect (or know) is beyond your skill level. It can cost you thousands of dollars to have a professional fix any mistakes you make. Some easy DIY jobs such as replacing a faucet or clearing a P-trap can be learned with a little self-education. But larger jobs require specialized skills. Poor DIY repair work detracts from your home’s value and can cause expensive problems down the road. It can also be illegal, making it difficult to sell your home until you repair the issue. Call a professional if you suspect you are in over your head. You aren’t saving money by doing it yourself if your work fails.
We’ve all been there. It’s the day before your vacation and your sink springs a leak. Don’t be tempted to slap a piece of duct tape on it or place a bucket under it and walk away. Band-aid fixes are never good. The problem will only get worse if you don’t fix it correctly.
Before you take on your own plumbing repair project or that much-needed bathroom renovation, think about the consequences of your decisions now and down the road. If you make a poor choice now, you will only have to fix it later. Even worse, you could also devalue your home or make it unsafe. Take a little time to learn about the problem and consult professionals along the way so you are sure you are doing everything right.
If you get in over your head or don’t have the time to fix something yourself, call someone right away. Don’t just slap a band-aid on it and walk away. You’ll pay for it in the end.