Plumbing Pitfalls for the DIYer: Big mistakes that can leave you in a world of hurt.
You’ve just finished watching 6 straight episodes of Backyard Blitz, and while your eyes may be a bit fuzzy from way too many hours of staring at the telly, your DIY confidence is at an all-time high.
Now, however, is not the time to march out to the garage and grab your toolbox, especially if the task on hand is in any way, shape, or form related to plumbing.
Take note of the 50% who stuff it up.
According to insurance adjusters, 5 of the top 10 preventable Home and Contents Policy claims are plumbing related.
They’re great fun, and pretty dramatic, but It’s not the disastrous blown pipe that’s going to get you. Instead it’s the residual damage that makes a plumbing mistake one of the most costly to repair.
You think you fixed the issue, but the bill from an undetected leak can run into the thousands as water doesn’t just dry-rot studs, joists and floorboards, but also ruins carpets, wall coverings, and plaster as well.
Wanna take a punt on the #1 culprit? A burst or improperly installed washing machine hose.
Laundry rooms are generally in low-traffic areas, so it can be a long time before the problem is discovered, meaning the damage can be extensive. Keep an eye on plastic and rubber hoses, and have them replaced by a professional if you’re not 100% confident that you know what you’re doing.
Along the same lines, leaks around tubs/showers, as well as toilet seals can slowly drip away your savings account. And the list rounds out with faulty supply lines to refrigerators and hot water heaters. Any hidden water line that is not part of the infrastructure of your home is at high risk for failure and massive damage to your property.
When doing your own work on any of the above-mentioned aspects of your home, take your time and make sure that you do the job right, the first time.
Believe it or not, people really do these things.
Want your DIY plumbing project to go awry? The first step is to use the wrong tools.
There’s a reason why Bunnings Warehouse has got aisle after aisle devoted to tools. If you’re not willing to open your wallet and buy what you need for the job, you might as well just call in a professional. Try to monkey-rig it and without a doubt your new faucet will be leaking within the week.
Same goes for purchasing quality parts. Attempting to skate by on the cheap is another sure-fire way to escape success on a plumbing repair. A penny saved is not a penny earned when it comes to buying inferior plumbing products.
And for Pete’s sake, don’t be in such a rush that you don’t bother turning off the water main to the house. Once the water is off, release the pressure in your system before getting to work. Certain repairs cannot be done correctly while there is still water pressure in the lines, and of course you risk a flood of biblical proportions should a connection pop off while you’re working.
Finally, the improper installation of mismatched pipes can lead to corrosion and leaks unless pipes are joined with a proper connector specifically designed for fitting two pipes of different materials. You won’t be saving any money by “using up” that leftover galvanized pipe in the shed if its installation damages the pipe that isn’t broken!
Permits? What permits?
To take your plumbing gaffe to a whole new level, try breaking the law by either failing to apply for the proper permit or by breaching a building code.
The nice little fine the council writes up for you will make a lovely dessert to go with the stern lecture delivered by your lovely wife.
When in doubt, check your local councils website for info on building permits and seek specialised advice from an appropriate insurance company who has building industry knowledge before starting on a major installation.
The double-whammy on this one is your homeowners insurance will not cover you when damages arise from a project that was completed without the proper permits.
Just because you can buy it, doesn’t mean you should use it!
It’s so simple, and yet so damaging.
The improper use (or overuse) of commercial drain cleaners such as Drano tops the list as the number one mistake made by do-it-yourself plumbers.
Professional plumbers will tell you that commercial drain cleaners should never be poured down any drain under any circumstance, as the corrosive chemicals that dislodge the blockage are equally hazardous to your pipes. But if you’ve just gotta do it, carefully read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Know your limits, and stay within them.
The last pitfall we’ll talk about in this post is the over-confident homeowner that gets ahead of themselves and bites off more than they can chew. Avoid gutting and remodelling your master bath if your plumbing resumé contains only minor projects like tightening cabinet hinges and painting your daughter’s bedroom.
Going DYI is both fun and rewarding, but know your skill level and don’t make the leap from tinkering handy man to full-blown DIYer until you’re qualified to do so.