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5 Plumbing Mistakes That First-Time Homeowners Make

First: congratulations! You’re a homeowner! That’s a huge deal, and you should be proud. Second, you’re probably pretty stressed out right now, so remember: It’s going to be alright. No matter how much you try to prepare for finding, purchasing, moving into, and living in a new home, about a thousand things come up that blindside you. Now, not only do you have to contend with the stresses of moving, you have to worry about all the weird house problems you somehow didn’t know about. Don’t panic! It happens to everyone.

Of all the unwelcome surprises first-time homeowners often discover, plumbing problems are among the least pleasant. Even worse, in all the stress and chaos of trying to solve all your move-in problems, homeowners make plumbing mistakes that only exacerbate their woes. Benjamin Franklin Plumbing® of Dallas has helped a lot of homeowners with suspicious patches missing from their hair. After a couple dozen of these disheartening encounters, we began to notice a few patterns. There are a couple key mistakes new homeowners tend to make which lead to really annoying plumbing problems. Take a look at these and learn from the tragedy for your predecessors. You deserve it–you work hard, and all that pulling can’t be good for your scalp.  

Putting Off Small Fixes

It’s really easy to see why new homeowners do this. There’s so much to do when you first move. You have to unpack, learn where everything is, and get used to living in a new place. You might not even know enough about your new place to know if a problem exists! With so much going on, it’s really easy to ignore a dripping faucet, a running toilet, or a sink that clogs frequently.

Unfortunately, if you leave little problems alone, they tend not to stay little for long. A leaky faucet might not seem like that big a deal, but even a very minor drip can waste a lot of water. Leaks like these also seem to get worse over time. Clogged sinks might not be a problem, but they could also be the beginning of a partial or total pipe block. Running toilets may be at risk of overflowing, which could quickly damage your floor or walls.

Long story short: it’s a really good idea to address any plumbing issues you notice in your new home very proactively. Not only will this prevent problems getting worse, it will give you peace of mind and help you feel more in control of your new living situation.

Forgetting to Turn Off the Water

It sounds too obvious to even mention, but we’ve seen it happen a lot. A homeowner wants to replace a showerhead, faucet, or bit of piping themselves. They go to the hardware store, buy everything they need, look up a step-by-step instruction guide online, get everything ready, start to unscrew the pipe… and then get a face full of pressurized water.

In all the rush of acclimating to your new place, you can forget this important step. That’s why it bears repeating: before you start any project that will require opening your plumbing system, find where your water turns off. It’s worth it to write down a reminder somewhere to turn off your water before plumbing, maybe on your to-do list or schedule. It sounds like a patronizing suggestion, but nothing drives a new homeowner over the edge like accidentally creating water damage in the house they just paid for. That’s a bad way to start your new chapter.

Using the Wrong Tools

This is another mistake you shouldn’t feel guilty about. Different appliances come in different sizes and require different, sometimes specialty parts or tools to function correctly. If you’re replacing a part of an appliance (such as a faucet, sink, showerhead, flapper valve, or toilet seat), be sure to carefully measure that appliance first. This is especially important if you suspect that the appliance you’re replacing was improperly fitted. You have to know what the wrong size is before you can figure out the right size. Be sure to also check the brand of what you’re repairing or replacing, and look that brand up online. Different brands often require different parts or repair methods.

Don’t assume you have the right tool for the job. Always look up the job you’re going to attempt before you start. Get multiple different opinions and look for reputable information from expert sources. Doing a repair job wrong could create a much bigger problem than the one you were trying to fix and might even ruin your appliance. That means more time spent, more money spent, and less hair on your head.

Skipping Plumbing Inspection

Homes usually have to be inspected before they’re sold. These inspections are great for identifying big problems like rot, structural damage, Radon, or electrical issues. However, inspectors are not usually specialists. They’ll be able to give you an educated guess about the health of your plumbing system, but it’s possible they could miss a small problem or two.

If you’re at all nervous about plumbing issues in your new home, it could be a good idea to call a professional for a full-home inspection. A expert plumbing technician will be able to tell you about how old your pipes are, how well your system is working, and what any potential problems are or could be. A thorough plumbing inspection is another good way to get some peace of mind in a surprisingly stressful time. You’ll also be able to address any problems head-on before they get out of control.

Moving Too Fast

This is the problem that lies at the heart of all the other problems we’ve listed here. It’s so easy to get discombobulated during the new home buying and moving process. There’s so much to do, and so much of what you have to do is so poorly defined. “Should I be worrying about this? This? That? Is there some homeowner’s fee I’m supposed to pay? Is it ok for me to park there? What’s carbon monoxide?”

When you have so much on your mind, it’s tempting to turn to something concrete like fixing a plumbing problem. Having a clear goal and taking clear, tangible steps to achieve it is calming and centering. However, the problem is, your stress and discombobulation don’t truly go away when you’re working, even if it feels like they do. And chasing comfort means you might too much, too quickly on your plate.

We’ve all done it; you have a huge list of things to get done, so you rush from one item to the next. As you probably recall, this never really works out. Moving too fast and trying to get too much done are how accidents happen. If you’re not paying attention and working calmly and methodically, you could hurt your plumbing–or worse, yourself!   

The most important thing you can do when you’re moving into your first home is to relax. Give yourself permission to take things one at a time. You won’t help anything by moving too fast to think, and it’ll only make your problems worse. This is true not only of plumbing, but of almost every new-home checklist item.

Remember too that you’re not on your own in this move. If you find a home repair problem you need dealt with, you can give us a call anytime and we’ll be there right away to lend a hand. Once your plumbing is squared away, you’ll be able to put the finishing touches on a successful move and start looking forward to this exciting new chapter of your life.