No one wants to have to call a plumber, it costs money and it takes time out of your day because you have to be there to inform them of the issue, watch them while they work, etc. In general, getting a plumber can be a hassle. Sometimes plumbing emergencies just happen, they are no one’s fault, and they were going to happen eventually. But, there are other plumbing issues, which are easily avoidable. There is nothing worse than calling a plumber, only to be told that the plumbing problem could have been easily avoided had you done something differently. So with that in mind, here are some common plumbing mistakes that everyone should avoid.
Clogged pipes are not fun at all, so when you have a particularly bad clog in your pipe, it can be very tempting to just grab a bottle of chemical drain cleaner and dump it down the drain. This okay to do once and a while when you are in a rush and desperately need to get rid of a clog. But the caustic chemicals in most commercial drain cleaners can wreak havoc on your pipes. Eventually, overtime, the internal walls of your pipes will become damaged which can lead to leaking. To avoid this, you should do two things. First, try to avoid having clogged pipes; you can do this by not throwing food or solid waste down your pipes, using thinner toilet paper, and regularly cleaning out your pipes with a plumbing snake. Secondly, if you do need to use a drain cleaning solution, why not make your own? Using baking soda, water, and vinegar, you can create a pretty effective, all natural, drain cleaning solution that will not start eating away at your pipes (you can also try other alternatives, like boiling water).
This is actually a mistake that many people make, both amateurs and plumbers often make the mistake of not properly matching piping. When you go to replace your pipes, you have to make sure they are of the same material. Why exactly? Well, if two different types of metals touch each other, this can lead to a process known as “galvanized corrosion.” Electrons in one of the metals begin to migrate to the other metal, which then causes your pipes to begin to corrode. Usually when someone mismatches pipes, it is because they have tried to connect pipes made of galvanized metal with pipes made of copper. To get around this, plumbers will use dielectric fittings to stop the galvanic corrosion process, but that only stops the process, it does not repair damage that may have already been done. Corroded pipes have a tendency to leak, burst, and just cause problems for the homeowner. And worst of all, getting them fixed is probably going to take a decent bite out of your bank account. So, it is a good idea to make sure your pipes are properly matched.
When it comes time to tighten faucets or pipes, it is important that you do not treat it as a strength test. If you use too much muscle when you are tightening a pipe or a faucet, you can strip some of the vital components, which leads to leaking. Faucets are especially vulnerable to this because of how small, sensitive parts they have. Only tighten something until it is in place and secure, do not keep tightening afterwards.
Certain plumbing fixtures, like faucets and shower heads, need to be taken apart to be properly fixed or cleaned. Taking apart these fixtures is rarely difficult, but the same cannot be said about putting them back together. We did an earlier article on how to properly clean a shower head, and one piece of advice we offered was to keep a mental note of how the parts went together, that is good advice to apply to all plumbing fixtures. Another way, would be to keep a rough diagram of the plumbing fixture, and where each part goes. It may seem silly at first, but when it comes time to put the plumbing fixture back together, you will be glad you kept a mental note of where each part goes.
Probably the number one common plumbing mistake is getting in over your head, either by attempting a job that is too hard, or doing something that actually runs counter to your state’s law on home plumbing. We did an earlier article on when you can attempt to handle a project and when you should call a pro. But generally speaking, anything that involves replacing lots of piping (especially piping that goes under the floor or through walls) should be left to the professionals and anything that involves replacing large fixtures (like toilets) should also probably be left to professionals. Likewise, it is important to realize that if you do not have the skill to do a plumbing project, then you should not attempt to do it and call a plumber. If you have to consult a step by step guide before doing something, it is probably a good sign that you should call a professional. If you attempt a plumbing project without the prerequisite knowledge, skill, or tools, then you risk doing it wrong, which means you are going to have to pay a plumber to do it right (not to mention you open yourself up to the possibility of fines if the government finds out).
No one likes to have to call the plumber, but sometimes you have to. However, you can avoid having to call the plumber by simply avoiding these common plumbing mistakes. Plumbers often have to deal with mistakes made by homeowners, so there is no shame in calling a plumber, admitting you have made a mistake, and asking them to come take a look at it. If you think you have made a mistake with your plumbing that could lead to issues down the road, do not be afraid to call a plumber.