7 Common DIY Plumbing Mistakes You Need to Avoid

Two Wrenches attached to pipe
Did you know that a faucet with a leak rate of one drip per second wastes over 2,000 gallons of water each year?

But how much water is that exactly? Well, consider that on average, a medium-sized household in Texas uses 84 gallons of water a day. A leaky faucet can waste more than 23 days of water supply.

That's why it's vital to address plumbing leaks as soon as you notice them. Many of these problems are easy to correct with basic DIY plumbing skills.

Before you wear the plumber hat though, it's best to learn about the common errors many DIYers make. This way, you can avoid doing them and turning that small leak into a giant pool of water.

Ready to make your plumbing system function properly again? Keep reading to learn about the mistakes to avoid when fixing plumbing issues on your own.

1. Attempting to Clear Clogs through Chemical Drain Cleaners

Studies found that many types of commercial drain cleaners can cause severe burns. This is due to the caustic properties of their chemical content, such as bleach and sulfuric acid.

The thought of accidental burns should be enough to make you stop using these products. These substances can also emit fumes that cause breathing problems.

In addition, these drain cleaners can damage home plumbing pipes and fixtures. Their ability to dissolve gunk can be corrosive to both metal and plastic pipe components. Continued use of such chemicals can cause leaks in the pipes.

Skip the liquid drain cleaners and invest in a quality plumbing snake instead. Snakes are more effective in removing clogs in pipes, not to mention less dangerous. If you have a lot of clogged pipes, it's best to hire a professional Austin drain cleaning service.

2. Forgetting to Turn Off the Main Water Valve

Replacing a faucet, putting in a new water supply line, or tightening pipes are easy DIY jobs, right? But this doesn't mean you can start right away without shutting off the main supply valve.

If you fail to do so and take out an entire faucet, the water will also come gushing out in full force. If you tighten a pipe too much and it cracks, the water will drench you and flood your home.

Note that indoor flooding is one of the main reasons for water damage insurance claims. In 2017 alone, water damage and freezing claims averaged $10,234. It would be less of a problem if your insurance pays out, but if there's neglect involved, it won't.

It takes only a few moments to turn off the main water supply valve. It's usually found on the same side as your water meter, which is outside of your home. If you can't find it there, it should be near the street, nestled between your home's curb and the sidewalk.

3. Making Connections Too Tight

In the hopes of keeping leaks in pipe joints at bay, many DIYers tend to overtighten connections. Cranking pipes, couplings, and joints too hard can be as risky as loose connections. The strain from a too-tight connection can crack and rupture fittings.

While the damage won't occur right away, it's likely to develop within weeks. Add the pressure of water flow to the mix, and this can lead to burst pipes that can cause indoor flooding.

DIYers are also prone to overtightening plastic fittings on faucet tubes and toilets. Apply too much torque when sealing up a supply tube, and this can cause the hex nuts and bolts to break. Like with pipes, this can also result in burst faucets and toilet water supply lines.

4. Carrying Out a DIY Plumbing Job Without All the Needed Parts

Many plumbing problems, like a leaky faucet, aren't as simple as they seem. For instance, that leak can signal more than just a worn cartridge or washer -- it can also mean a faulty seal and gasket. If you only replace the worn washer, that faucet will continue to leak, with the leak worsening over time.

Once this happens, you'll need to visit the hardware store again for the parts you lack. You'll also spend more time disassembling the problematic faucet. In short, such DIY plumbing errors waste not only time but also gas money.

Most of these internal faucet parts are cheap anyway, so it's better to buy them all in one go. This way, you can rebuild the entire faucet and prevent bigger leaks from arising.

5. Using the Wrong Tools

A successful DIY home plumbing project relies on the right tools and not just bare hands. If you don't use the right equipment, you can end up damaging plumbing pipes and fittings. For instance, you can break the pipe with an ordinary wrench if you need an internal pipe wrench for the job.

Using the wrong tools can also scratch and dent your fixtures, which can cut their lifespan short. Stick to a strap wrench or use an extendable basin wrench for stuck supply tubes and fasteners.

6. Not Using Any at All

Don't think that you can tighten bolts and nuts with only your fingers. This will likely result in leaks once the water runs through the pipe again. In fact, high water pressure can even pop those loose fittings out and cause the pipe to burst.

7. Overestimating DIY Abilities

Being a handyman is no doubt a good thing, but overestimating one's abilities can do more damage. If your initial DIY fixes don't solve the problem, it's time to call plumbing repair experts. It's possible that there's an underlying issue in your plumbing that only pros can detect and fix.

Avoid these Costly DIY Mistakes

There you have it, all the DIY plumbing mistakes that you should never commit. Not only can they result in costlier water damage but some of them also be a health hazard. The smartest thing to do is to first assess what you can do, and if it's beyond your skills, call a professional. It's ok if too big a job doesn't feel bad about it, as some plumbing problems are best handled by a pro.

Do you have multiple leaky faucets or clogged plumbing pipes that are too much for a DIY project? Whether you are in Cedar Park, Lakeway, or West Lake Hills, please don't hesitate to connect with us now. We can fix all your Austin home's plumbing issues and give you a written job estimate.

Mr. Rooter iconAbout the Author: Brett Bidwell, Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Austin

Brett has been a trusted Mr. Rooter owner of  Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Austin since 2012. With over 8 years to back him, Brett has experience with a wide range of plumbing-related solutions and systems. He and his team specialize in emergency plumbing, drain cleaning, and more.