When it comes to plumbing, there are many aspects that you can do yourself. However, DIY plumbing can come with some risks, especially if you’re not careful or not consulting an expert along the way.
Whether you’re messing with your water heater, attempting drain cleaning, or even doing something as simple as getting rid of debris from your garbage disposal, here are 7 common plumbing mistakes you definitely want to avoid this year when it comes to your plumbing system.
In this PlumbingNav article, you’ll learn how to avoid these common plumbing mistakes:
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Plumbing Mistake 1: Using Harsh Chemical Drain Cleaners
Contrary to popular belief, using a chemical drain cleaner is not always advantageous when trying to unclog a sink drain. While most products advertise a ‘magic’ solution to your plumbing problem-just pour it down the drain and your clog is fixed!-the truth is that the liquid may be doing more harm than good.
Chemical drain cleaners use heat-generating chemical reactions to remove debris from your plumbing pipes. Depending on your pipes, these reactions may be more than the pipes can handle, causing a number of issues: cracking, corrosion on iron pipes, and in the worst cases, degrading your PVC plumbing pipes altogether.
It’s also worth noting that chemical drain cleaners are made with a combination of lye (sodium hydroxide), salt (sodium chloride), bleach (sodium hypochlorite), sodium nitrate, and aluminum-all of which are toxic to humans (except for salt, of course).
Arguably, you can avoid the harsh chemicals from liquid drain cleaner and use a combination of baking soda, vinegar, and hot water to unclog your drain the same way-without the toxicity! You can also try a natural enzyme product.
If hair is your problem, you can often use a hair clog remover tool and fix it fast…even without cleaners.
Plumbing Mistake 2: Overtightening Hoses Or Pipes
One of the most common plumbing mistakes is overtightening your supply hoses, toilet bolts, or plumbing pipes in general.
Most DIY plumbers air on the side of overtightening connections to a plumbing fixture in the hopes of avoiding a leak. However, if you tighten a galvanized pipe, elbow, or plastic fitting too much, you risk cracking (or in the worst cases, breaking the parts altogether).
With toilet repair, overtightening the toilet bolts (either between the tank and the bowl or along the floor) can even cause cracking to the porcelain, completely destroying the whole toilet!
It’s best to remember the phrase ‘less is more’ when it comes to your plumbing connections. You’ll want to tighten until you avoid a leak, without overdoing it.
Plumbing Mistake 3: Being Too Aggressive On A Stuck Valve
Along that same vein as overtightening, another one of the common DIY plumbing mistake is being too aggressive with a stuck valve.
Valves become stuck (or seized) when they’re not used for long periods of time. A common DIY plumbing mistake is thinking that applying more pressure to the valve will solve the problem when in fact the opposite is true.
Rather than applying more pressure, it’s best to use a wrench to (slightly!) loosen the seal from the nut just enough to break the weld. Then when you’re done, make the parts snug again (again, without overdoing it) to prevent a future leak.
Plumbing Mistake 4: Not Turning The Water Off During An Emergency
During a plumbing emergency, it’s imperative that you shut the water off. While some DIY plumbers think they can get away with making a quick fix without shutting off the water valve, this is not only incorrect-it’s downright foolish!
If you’re making a plumbing repair without turning the water off, you’ll soon find water pressure spraying out at full blast, not only causing flooding in the space you’re in but quickly seeping into other rooms and levels of your home as well.
This is such a terrible mistake that can be avoided by simply taking a minute to shut off the water valve before attempting to fix a plumbing issue.
Plumbing Mistake 5: Turning Off Your Heat During Cold Temperatures
While turning the water off is necessary when you’re attempting to fix a plumbing problem, the opposite is true for when the temperature drops. In fact, you’ll want to keep your heat and water on during colder months to keep your pipes from freezing.
It’s common practice to set a home thermostat to a regulated temperature of 72, (55 degrees Fahrenheit is typical while on vacation), as well as regularly monitor your pipes to prevent freezing.
If your pipes do freeze, you’ll want to be sure to take the necessary steps to thaw your pipes correctly so that your pipes don’t end up cracking or breaking.
Plumbing Mistake 6: Not Scheduling Regular Plumbing Maintenance
Something that homeowners don’t always think about is scheduling regular plumbing services to check in on pipes, provide leak detection, and prevent plumbing issues from happening in the first place.
While you don’t have to hire a professional plumber for every issue that comes up, it’s generally good practice to find someone you trust and go to that person as opposed to bouncing around, only contacting someone when you need emergency plumbing, or attempting to do everything yourself.
It’s also worth noting that there is a difference between a handyman and a professional plumber. While a handyman may be able to get the job done, a professional plumber is an expert and will be better equipped to help you with your specific needs. This definitely applies to plumbing issues related to gas leaks.
Plumbing Mistake 7: Ignoring Your Plumbing Problems Altogether
Just because you’re unsure of what steps to take doesn’t mean you should avoid taking care of things altogether!
Professional plumbers are available to help you, as well as a wealth of resources where you can learn about plumbing tips and tricks. When in doubt, contact an expert for advice and determine if it’s something you can handle or something to outsource. Then, take the repair one step at a time.
Common Plumbing Mistakes To Avoid
DIY plumbing is possible, especially if you have the right tools, the right knowledge/expertise, and the right mindset. However, it’s important to know what’s in your wheelhouse. . . and when it may make more sense to hire a plumbing service. Also, see this post that covers a number of DIY plumbing repairs you can do without a license.
Before beginning any plumbing project, consult these plumbing tips to help you prepare yourself and your home. Also, see our many guides on home water heating that cover a range of helpful topics, including water heater maintenance.
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