It’s human nature to overestimate skill level, and want to tackle jobs ourselves. But when it comes to plumbing, repairs gone wrong can lead to dangerous and costly consequences.
These are 5 of the most common DIY mistakes you’ll get called in to fix after becoming a plumber.
1. Putting together pipes of the wrong material or size
When pressed for time (or cash), some homeowners are tempted to make household repairs with materials they already have lying around. This sounds like a smart idea, except when the material they “substitute” isn’t quite up to the demands of the job.
Case in point? The tendency of homeowners to use mismatched pipes for plumbing repairs. It’s quite common for plumbers to see pipes of the wrong size joined together, and missing the proper connecting piece. Or, you may see galvanized metal paired with copper, for example, which quickly leads to corrosion and leakage. An expert knows that brass or some other suitable fitting must be used to pair these materials.
2. Dousing stubborn blockages with drain cleaner
All too often, homeowners reach for drain cleaners as a cure-all for blocked pipes. While heavy duty chemicals can be highly effective for minor clogs and residue, they’re of little use for serious blockages. In fact, they’ll do more harm than good, eating away at the pipes and the homeowner’s wallet!
When a stubborn clog refuses to move, despite a flood of drain cleaner, an experienced plumber steps in with the appropriate snake tool.
3. Forgetting to turn off outside hoses during winter
Get an emergency call from a homeowner whose basement has suddenly flooded in the dead of winter? There’s a good chance this disaster was caused by failure to disconnect the garden hose, or water supply to the outdoor spigots. Freezing temperatures caused the pipes to swell and burst, spreading water, panic, and confusion throughout the household.
This is less a repair error than it is a major maintenance oversight. But the outcome is the same: expensive, stressful damage that could easily have been avoided.
4. Ignoring permit laws that pertain to plumbing
The average homeowner knows little about local regulations governing building permits, let alone which permits may apply to the plumbing work they’ve decided to tackle alone.
Depending on the size and nature of the plumbing job, many municipalities do indeed demand a permit. Failure to secure one could lead to several unfortunate outcomes for the homeowner. If the DIY project goes wrong, and the home suffers water and/or structural damage, insurance may refuse to pay. Also, working without a permit may expose the homeowner to a fine. Again, this is where an experienced plumber steps in, with thorough knowledge of local laws and how to abide by them.
5. Tackling a plumbing job far beyond experience level
While experience level definitely varies among homeowners, it’s safe to say that most can handle a leaky faucet or minor clog. However, far too many people overestimate their own skill level—and the instructional power of DIY videos—and end up knee deep in self inflicted plumbing disasters.
When homeowners start disconnecting major pipes, fiddling with pipes behind walls or floors, or attempt a major overhaul of bathroom plumbing, you can predict a professional plumber will get called in to do damage control.
During your plumber career, you’ll find yourself tackling all kinds of misguided repair jobs. And spending a considerable amount of time helping clients see where their DIY plumbing project went from clever to catastrophe!
Interested in learning more about becoming a plumber? Looking for reliable plumber training near you?
Consider the Pre-apprenticeship Training (PAT) Institute’s Plumber Training Program. PAT is the official training institute in the Ontario construction industry for the CLAC Union, Merit Ontario and Ontario Electrical League. Plumbing training at PAT is your first step toward earning an apprenticeship in Ontario.