Avoid DIY Plumbing Mistakes
If you are like me, you prefer to try and figure out how to do it yourself before hiring someone to do it. My main job is digital marketing even though I work full time for Murrayville Plumbing & Heating Ltd. I am not a plumber, but I do love to try DIY (do it yourself… not that you didn’t already know that but… hey you never know). There are many projects and repairs around the house that seem like they’d be easier and cheaper to do yourself. While some problems may appear easy to fix for the average DIYer, others do require a professional’s expertise, at least to get it done right. Many plumbing systems are well beyond the abilities of the average layman, so before you head to the hardware store and purchase a bunch of supplies, look into the feasibility of doing the job yourself. If there is an issue, you’re totally sure you can fix, it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting into.
Just a few weeks back our master bathroom toilet broke… and I mean broke. The entire back of the toilet cracked, and water went everywhere including into our daughter’s bathroom downstairs. Now me working for a plumbing company I called up my best friend (yes, he is a plumber for Murrayville Plumbing) told him what had happened, and he gave me advice on what to do and save some money. I went to Home Depot and purchased a cheaper toilet instead of one from our supplier (they can be pricey and since this is the 3rd toilet in the house… cheap is good) with a new wax seal kit. I used the shop vac to drain the remaining water and uninstalled the toilet. Installed a new toilet with new wax seal, tested and it seemed to be working.
After a day, my daughter noticed a leak in the bathroom ceiling. Right away I turned off the new toilet and check the seal, everything seemed to be in good shape. Took some pictures and sent them to a professional plumber to get some tips. After looking into it, I think the water came from when the original tank blew and came down through the floor vent and a gap by the floor flange of the master bathroom toilet. As a precaution, I installed a new wax seal (better than the Home Depot version) recommended by my friend and now it is working fine. Next time I think it may be better to have a professional scope out the work involved and avoid any issues that could be prevented. After all, I work with code, graphics and computers all day, not toilets. Here are a few do’s and don’ts to help you avoid the worst plumbing disasters and keep your home dry.
Know How to Turn Water Off
If you try to fix a leak or other plumbing issue without first turning off the main water valve, you’ll soon have a much bigger problem than the one you started with. Before you need it in an emergency, find and familiarize yourself with the location of your home’s main water shut off. Sometimes it can be found under your kitchen sink, or where the water line from the street connects to your residence. If you live in an apartment or other community housing area, you probably don’t have access to it.
Before beginning any repair projects to water fixtures, turn off the main valve. Removing or tampering with a pipe while the system is running will inevitably result in flooding. If you’re unable to access the shut off for any reason, call a professional instead of trying to complete the repair yourself.
Don’t Take Things Apart
When taking any fixture or piping apart, it’s important to know exactly how they go back together. Don’t begin a project assuming you’ll be able to learn about a faucet or shower head as you disassemble it. If you’re not already familiar with a feature, do some research on it beforehand. Keeping a manual nearby can be helpful, but it’s also a good idea to take pictures at every step so you know exactly how things are supposed to look when putting them back together.
Use Appropriate Tools/Materials
Every homeowner should have a basic toolkit, especially if you’re an experienced DIYer. But plumbing work requires more than just a basic hammer and Phillips-head screwdriver. If you intend to do your own plumbing projects, make sure you have all the proper tools before starting. You don’t want to get stuck in the middle of the job and not be able to continue because you don’t have the proper equipment.
Similarly, only replace fixtures or plumbing with the exact same model or type of product. A cut garden hose is not an appropriate replacement for actual piping. Even replacing a pipe with one of the same materials, but a different diameter, can cause changes in water pressure that lead to bursting or leakage.
Don’t Go Digging for Trouble
If you notice a leak coming out of your wall or even the ground around your property, your first thought might be to dig or cut whatever is in your way to find the source of the problem. However, embarking on such a drastic project will almost certainly result in more problems for your plumbing than there were at the start. Unless you are a professional, don’t go looking for hidden pipes. The chances of you accidentally breaking something are not worth the few dollars you might save by trying to fix the issue on your own. Always remember that you pay for what you get. That cheaper toilet cost me more money than a good one. I had to replace the flush valve on the brand new toilet because it kept running on…. Next time I will just get my friend to do it.