Geoff Burke, our resident plumbing expert and guest writer, wants to help you avoid spending your hard earned cash on an unnecessary house call from a plumber. He’s here to share some tips on “how NOT to call the plumber”. This month, he’s here with four things you should know when tackling plumbing projects around your house.
How NOT to call a plumber
Over the years, we seem to get an influx of calls following long weekends. These seem to be the times that you’re finally going to tackle that leaking faucet, replace the old toilet, or clear up a slow sink. Inevitably, these things often do not go to plan and lead to calls from frustrated spouses or those brave enough to admit defeat! Let’s see what we can do to lessen those calls.
We’re going to go through the 4 most common mistakes DIY plumbers make.
Too Much Draino
OK, you’ve heard me say it before – even one drop of a drain cleaner would be considered too much in my eyes. While they may work (sometimes) in the short term, you are creating a much larger issue for yourself in the future. Not only will drain cleaners corrode pipes over time (meaning breaking open wall/floors to replace them), but they will also sometimes interact with whatever is in the drain and make the blockage worse. If a drain cleaner doesn’t resolve the issue, it will sit there in the pipe – when mixed with the blockage, it will turn into a white substance that has the same consistency as a bar of soap and often close the entire drain. As you can imagine, this is very difficult for us to clear when we finally get the call!
Wrong Toilet Placement
This is another one we get all the time. Someone has tried to replace the toilet (a seemingly simple thing to do) and a week later they start to notice some water damage in the ceiling. As a DIY’er, you know you’ve messed up. You also even know what the problem is! As you were setting that toilet down onto the wax ring, you couldn’t quite get it right – the toilet kept hitting the bolts, it was heavy and awkward to set down so you couldn’t line it up properly, or maybe you even felt the gasket move as you were finally setting it in place. Plumbers typically won’t do it this way, but the easiest way for a DIY’er to set a toilet in place is to leave the tank and bowl as two separate parts, do not install the seat, and just place the bowl itself right onto the gasket. This way, the toilet is the lightest and easiest to maneuver. Take care of the other connections afterwards!
Not Turning Off the Water (Properly)
Step one of most DIY plumbing projects is to turn off the water. Although not necessary, many DIY’ers will feel the most comfortable shutting the water off to the entire house. Where things go wrong, is just because you’ve shut the water to the house, doesn’t mean that the water lines are empty (in fact, they are still under pressure!). After shutting the water off, make sure that you take the time to open a few faucets in the house (especially the basement if you have one). For example, if you are cutting a water pipe open in the basement without draining the system first, you will have the entire contents of the house’s water piping coming down on you. While this usually isn’t more than a gallon or two of water, it can definitely be nerve wracking if you don’t know what’s happening or aren’t prepared!
This one may seem a bit counterintuitive. You would think “the tighter the connection, the more it will be water tight!”. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. This is a tough on to learn as it has a lot to do with feel; it takes time even for our apprentices to get that proper feel! Over-tightening connections will leak to pipes potentially cracking or rubber gaskets tearing. There are even some connections (for example, the connection of the water supply to the toilet), that need to be “hand tight” only!
That’s it for this week! I hope you all have a great, relaxing weekend and we’ll see you next time .