It may seem simple to make a few plumbing fixes and adjustments here and there. Oftentimes, just a couple of basic household tools are required, but one mistake can have dramatic, and costly consequences. Here are seven common mistakes to avoid:

1. Not Shutting the Water Before Doing Plumbing Work

Thinking you can replace a faucet, showerhead, or valve quickly and leave the water on is a big mistake. Even if you haven’t used the fixture in a while, you could end up drenched in water once you unscrew the pipe. An entire room can end up flooded as well. Instead of a few extra dollars at the hardware store, you spend thousands of dollars in cleanup and repairs.

2. Picking Incorrect Plumbing Tools

Ordinary wrenches and pliers, even if they feel like a good fit, may not be appropriate for certain equipment and brands. For example, a strap wrench can strip the finish on your faucet. An extendable basin wrench should be used to remove faucet supply tubes and fasteners, while avoiding using a hack saw for square cuts on the tubing. Use a tubing cutter instead. For any appliance or part, take measurements and verify any tool used is compatible.

3. Skipping Right to the Drain Cleaners

Liquid drain cleaners are the first choice for many DIYers. However, commercial drain cleaners are corrosive and can damage pipes, metal traps, and rubber gaskets. The first step to cleaning a drain should be to snake it out or let the clog discharge by removing the P-trap. You could be spending hundreds of dollars per year on water bills. The average household uses 64 gallons per day, the DoE estimates, which adds up to $400 to $600 per year. A tankless water heater can save you up to $100 annually in energy costs.

4. Overtightening/Using Too Much ForceSmaller Size

By overtightening bolts and plastic fittings, you can crack them, but not all cracks happen immediately. You may weaken the fitting or pipe so breakage may not occur until weeks later. A flood can then result. The same goes if you tighten the hex nuts of a supply tube too tightly, or toilet bolts near the floor or that secure the bowl to the tank (which can destroy a toilet).

5. Using Thread Tape Improperly

Teflon tape creates a seal at a fitting. While it must be wrapped clockwise around threads, a common mistake is to wrap it backward. Doing so causes the tape to unwind as the fitting is tightened. The tape should be wrapped clockwise three times around the fitting’s threads; the last wrap should face to the left as the pipe is screwed in.

6. Proceeding Without Spare Parts

Whether you’re repairing a faucet or a drain line, make sure you have common spare parts on hand. Many DIYers think just replacing a worn washer or cartridge will fix their faucet. But a few parts often wear together. You’re likely to need a gasket and O-rings, so purchase all these in one trip to the hardware store. Also have extra rubber compression gaskets when fixing a drain line, or beveled poly washers when working on PVC traps and arms.

7. Avoiding an Inspection

Always hire a professional plumbing inspector. Inspections are typically done before a home is sold, but should be a priority if your plumbing hasn’t been checked in some time. A plumber can test the system to see if it’s working or if there are any problems. If so, they’ll be fixed quickly, and you won’t have to worry about hidden issues or floods.

Contact Express Plumbing

Boise’s leading plumbing installation and repair company, we can address any issue with sinks, toilets, drains, pipes, and water heaters. We also offer protection plans that include an annual plumbing system tune-up and same-day service. Specials and financing are available as well. Call to learn more or schedule service.

Brad Jordan

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