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Business Hours: 24/7
1209 Richard Avenue Winnipeg, Manitoba R3E 3H3

8 Common DIY Plumbing Mistakes

It’s common for many homeowners to try their hand at home improvement themselves. If you’re good with your hands, you might be able to do some basic home repairs, but in general, most complex jobs like plumbing repairs are best left to the pros. When you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, you’re more prone to making critical plumbing mistakes and causing harm to the surrounding area. To avoid any costly mishaps around the house, take note of these common plumbing mistakes.

1. Overtightening connections



Perhaps the most common plumbing mistake you should avoid is overtightening the connections. Most people know the connections between pipes need to be watertight, but you shouldn’t overdo it.


The prominent misconception is tighter connections make better seals, but this isn’t the case. Overtightening puts excessive force on the fixtures causing fittings and washers to develop cracks over time, weakening the seal. It may not happen right away, but the connections can crack some days or weeks later and cause flooding. A good rule of thumb is to keep those connections snug but refrain from pushing past that point.

2. Using drain cleaner as a first resort



In the case of blocked drains, many homeowners turn to drain cleaners. Chemical drain cleaners may work for minor clogs, but overusing them can harm your pipes in the long run. The same chemicals that break up blockage can also corrode the pipe material and make them prone to leaking. Drain cleaners can also present other hazards if used incorrectly. Err on the side of caution and refrain from using them altogether.


Instead of chemical cleaners, use all-natural cleaning mixtures made from vinegar, salt, baking soda, and hot water. If that doesn’t solve the problem, try using a plumber’s snake to reach down the drain and dislodge the block. If all else fails, call the pros. Professional plumbers are well-equipped and can easily remove the drain P-trap and pour out the material causing the blockage.

3. Lacking appropriate tools



DIY methods used to deal with plumbing emergencies often lead to problems if you don’t have the right tools. When plumbers do the job, they make it look easy because they have the necessary equipment to handle a given problem.


Winging plumbing fixes when you are not fully equipped to handle them is where many of the problems emerge. For instance, trying to remove galvanized pipe nipples with ordinary pipe wrenches can break the pipe. Using inappropriate tools can also damage your fixtures, shortening their lifespan and increasing the risk of leaks. Rather than using basic tools, consider investing in internal pipe wrenches which can be found in your local hardware store.

3. Using thread tape wrong



Teflon tape (also known as PTFE tape) wraps around threads in your piping to help create a more secure seal. However, some DIY plumbers have made the mistake of taping backwards so that the tape unwinds when tightening the fitting. This defeats the purpose of wrapping as the tape can’t form a secure seal.


A quick tip is to wrap the tape around the fixture’s threads 3 times. When screwing the fixture into place, the final wrap should be facing left. If the wrap is instead facing your right-hand side, unwrap the fitting and start over.

5. Forgetting to turn off the water first



One plumbing mistake when starting a project is neglecting to turn off the water under the assumption that they can fix a problem quickly. However, if you can’t attach a valve quickly enough, the built-up water may flood the room, causing severe damage to the surrounding area. Every moment wasted looking for the right valve can compound the problem further.


Shut off your water at the local shutoff valve first or at the water main to avoid costly damage to your home. Take note that shutting off the water at the source still leaves water in the pipeline. Run your faucets for a few seconds to clear the water and drain the pipes.

6. Connecting galvanized and copper pipes



Another common DIY plumbing mistake is thinking all pipes are compatible, leading them to connect their galvanized pipes to the copper ones. The zinc in galvanized pipes reacts negatively to copper, causing a chemical reaction that corrodes the joint.


Fortunately, it is possible to connect galvanized and copper pipes with a specialized piece called a dielectric union. This is a special joint that uses a plastic sleeve and rubber washer to keep the copper and galvanized piping from actual contact.

7. Sloping floors incorrectly



For those very handy with tools, it might be tempting to do major renovations, like sloping the shower floor, yourself. It’s critical your floor has the correct slope. Even with all the technological advances, plumbing still relies on gravity to do much of the work, like directing water to the drain properly. Shower stalls with tile floors need a properly sloped floor to ensure that water flows toward the drain instead of pooling and seeping into the grout. A typical shower floor slopes at a 4° angle, dropping ½ inch every 12 inches from the shower wall to the drain.


While DIYers may assume that higher slopes mean better drainage, it isn’t so. What this does is allow liquids to move faster and solids slower. Solid residue can get left behind and stain the tiles. For efficient drainage, entrust this one to the pros instead.

8. Performing unpermitted work



One task plumbing services do for you is handling the permits. Like performing major yardwork, you’ll need the right permits before you can start making serious adjustments to your plumbing. When doing your own work, you need to apply for a building permit to avoid fines and prevent future damage. Permits will also allow you to avail of insurance to cover any future damage. A permit may cost more upfront but think of it as an investment to protect your home later on.


When it comes to plumbing issues around the house, it’s often best to leave the work to the pros. The Pleasant Plumber Inc. offers 24/7 emergency plumbing services to help you whenever an emergency strikes. We’re here to offer effective solutions to common plumbing problems to help save your home and ease your mind. Give us a call now at (204) 930-9630 to get speedy help for all your plumbing needs. 

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