There's nothing like a little do-it-yourself knowledge when it comes to your home's plumbing system. You can save money and feel good about completing a project using your own skills and ingenuity. Unfortunately, things don't always go as easily as planned – and when plumbing work goes wrong, it can go very wrong in a hurry. Make sure to avoid these common plumbing mistakes so you don't end up creating a messy and expensive repair job.
Not Shutting Off the Water
There's a main water shut off valve somewhere in your house, and probably localized shutoffs for some of your individual rooms and fixtures. Be sure you shut down the flow of water before you start taking anything apart, lest you end up with an inadvertent flood.
Too Much Drain Cleaner
A clogged drain is one of the simpler problems for the DIY plumber, but even this fix can go wrong. Many plumbers recommend that you avoid using chemical drain cleaners, or if you do indulge, use very sparingly. If you overdo it, you could end up corroding your pipes. Better to use mechanical methods like a plunger or a plumbing snake to clear up whatever is causing the blockage.
Mixing Up Your Materials
There are a variety of pipe materials on the market, and you should be aware of what's installed in your home. If you want to make a change, like swapping outdated PVC plastic for more modern PEX, be sure you understand what the consequences might be. Some types of plastic can't handle hot water, and there are other materials you shouldn't match – copper connectors on galvanized metal pipes can cause corrosion, for example, leading to blockages down the road. Consult a professional before making any material changes.
Not Having the Right Tools for the Job
When you're trying to pull your pipes in and out of place, there's not a lot of margin for error. You don't want to be tightening joints with the wrong kind of wrench, or struggling to remove a nut when it would come off easily with the right tool. Make sure you have the correct tools for the job before you start, and know how to use them.
Ignoring Local Code
Your municipality has a local building code which includes rules and regulations for plumbing, covering what types of materials you can use, what types of configurations are legal and more. The code is there for a reason – it helps protect your home from cheap, shoddy work that’s likely to break down and cause more problems in the future. Know the code and follow it.
Not Knowing When to Throw in the Towel
Know when it's time to give up. A repair that looks easy on video can end up taking you days, especially if you have to run out for new parts or tools in the middle of the work. There's no shame in admitting that a job is beyond your capabilities. If you end up in over your head and in the midst of a DIY plumbing disaster, call in an expert plumber ASAP to help mitigate any problems and get you back on the right track.