“Do-It-Yourself” is an entire industry these days, and it’s understandable why. Information is readily available on the internet. Tools can be bought online and arrive in a day or two. Additionally, since you aren’t paying for labor costs can be cheaper (though your job will likely take much longer).
The DIY mindset is excellent for gardening, building furniture, and a host of other hobbies, but it can be dangerous when dealing with something as vital to your family as your water supply. Here are some common mistakes we see DIY home plumbers make.
1: Using Chemical Cleaners
Cleaning companies market chemical cleaners as a quick fix for clogs, but as often is the case, quick fixes can cause unexpected problems. A professional plumber can clear out your clogs faster, easier, safer, and in a more environmentally conscious way than toxic cleaners. Here are some reasons why you should stay away from chemical cleaners.
Drain Cleaners Aren’t Great at Their Jobs
From pieces of plastic, solidified grease, to bones or mineral deposits, a lot of things can cause a clogged drain. Different clogs require different solutions! A chemical cleaner tries to tackle them all the exact same way—a caustic chemical reaction. This “one-size-fits-all” approach leads to chemical cleaners just not being that effective.
Additionally, a drain cleaner can’t be precise and surgical the way modern plumbing tools can. Instead, the drain cleaner attempts to burn away everything it touches, including your pipes! This can cause severe damage to older pipes and even melt and soften modern PVC piping.
Drain Cleaners are Poisonous
These same chemical reactions can cause extreme harm to humans. You likely remember the controversy surrounding single-use laundry pods. The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) estimates that at its peak in 2015, there were 12,000 cases of children under five treated for poisoning from laundry pods.
Commercial drain cleaners share a crucial characteristic that attracts children to laundry detergent pods—bright, colorful packaging. The difference is that drain cleaners are much more poisonous and can cause severe damage from just skin contact.
The Environmental Impact
After we use water in our homes, it goes into our sewers and eventually into sewage treatment. There they do great work to remove trash and waste from the water and make it usable again. However, those plants are not designed to deal with hazardous waste like toxic chemical drain cleaners. Because of this, those chemicals can make their way into the local waterways and damage wildlife and soil.
2: Failing to Winterize
In New York, it is essential to prepare for low temperatures. Your pipes can freeze and cause blockages or even completely burst if you haven’t winterized. One of the primary keys is heat retention.
Pipes often run through underused and underheated areas of the home, such as basements or crawl spaces. Make sure these areas have adequate insulation, so they retain heat and keep your pipes from freezing. You can also add insulation sleeves directly on to the pipes that are most likely to freeze.
3: Mismatching Pipes
A small leak may not seem serious enough to contact a plumber and can activate our desire to DIY. While it can be a simple job, you must solve it in the right way. A lousy repair can end up causing costly water damage to your home. This is why you need to be sure that you are installing the correct pipe.
Pipes of different materials don’t work well together, and of course, the pipe must be the correct size. You might be able to jerry-rig a solution together. You may not even notice you have used the wrong kind of pipe, but in the end, your plumbing is much more at risk of a catastrophic issue than before your DIY repair.
Using the right tools also includes things like sealants. Make sure you are using a sealant that works well with the material of the pipe and that real plumbers use it. For example, the typical glues you use around the house won’t form an excellent seal.
4: Not Turning Off Your Water
If there were a golden rule of plumbing, it would be this—turn off your water before doing any repairs. For some of us, this makes sense intuitively, for others, not as much. Many DIYers skip this routine step and cause a massive headache for themselves.
If the water is running, even tightening a connection can go wrong and cause a massive leak. While some issues may be small like a tiny leak leaving a puddle under your sink, you can also create a complete pipe rupture. It might be a hassle to have to turn the water on and off throughout your repair job, but it’s the best way to minimize the risk of a big issue.
5: Lack of Routine Check-Ups
Maintenance is vital to the upkeep of any system. Whether its a yearly physical or your routine dental cleaning, we all need check-ins with people who know their stuff. Your home’s vital systems are no different! Your HVAC and plumbing need maintenance as well.
We recommend that you receive maintenance at least once a year. If you avoid doing this, often the manufacturer’s warranties expire. This is common for water heaters if they aren’t flushed by a professional once a year, for example. Additionally, small leaks can go unnoticed for months. Routine maintenance may be the only way to catch an issue like this before it becomes worse.
6: Abusing Your Drains
Drains are designed to handle very few things. Your drains are not trash cans! For your toilet, this means to avoid flushing anything that isn’t human waste or toilet paper. Feminine products and so-called “flushable wipes” cause clogs in the sewer system and can’t be broken down in sewage treatment facilities.
You can pile your kitchen sink high with dishes and utensils, but be careful what you put down your drain. Even if you have a garbage disposal system, there are certain foods that you need to avoid putting down there. Nuts, grease, pasta, rice, and bones are all examples of what not to put in your garbage disposal. Some of these need to be tossed in the garbage; others can be composted.
7: Not Planning Well
There’s almost nothing more exhilarating than making plans, but they need to be followed up by extensive research. An additional sink in the kitchen may sound great. However, you may not realize the stress new fixtures can put on your plumbing system. Adding that extra sink could significantly diminish the water pressure of multiple installations in your home if you’re not careful with your planning.
Most of your plumbing is out of sight out of mind. You most likely need a professional to walk you through how additional fixtures can fit into what you already have.
Overall, DIY-ing isn’t a bad thing. Everyone should have at least some knowledge of their home’s vital systems. However, part of that knowledge is understanding when you need to get a professional opinion. We hope you avoid some of these common pitfalls if you decide to tackle any issues with your plumbing on your own. If you do need help, all of us at AWS got you covered.
If you’ve made one of these mistakes or want to avoid them, give AWS a call at (516) 217-2196 or fill out an online contact form.