5 DIY Plumbing Techniques To Avoid
There is something to be said for those who choose the do-it-yourself approach to household plumbing problems. While it is admirable to try and tackle an issue on your own, you need to be extremely careful when doing so. Do not assume that you can take a lackadaisical approach because you think something is a simple fix. Even a supposedly easy issue can turn into something very serious and costly if you make a mistake. Here are some of the most common DIY plumbing techniques a lot of people use that can result in major damage:
- Using Boiling Water or a Coat Hanger to Clear a Drain
There are far too many instances of people trying to use hot water in order to clear a troublesome clog. This “solution” simply does not work. Not only will boiling water fail to eliminate an obstruction, it could loosen joints in PVC pipes and lead to a much bigger issue. Likewise, you should never try to use a wire coat hanger to clear a clog. This is ineffective at best, and could actually make the obstruction even worse if you get the hanger stuck inside your pipe. Call your plumber instead to make sure this problem is taken care of safely and effectively.
- Not Using the Right Tools for the Job
If you are preparing to undertake a DIY plumbing project and you do not have the right tools and equipment, you are asking for trouble. Everyone should have a plumber’s wrench, basin wrench and hand auger at the very least. Though you also need to make sure you can handle the job you are about to try and perform. In far too many instances, homeowners with only basic plumbing skills try to take on something that is far beyond their ability. If you have any doubt whatsoever that you can handle a project, take some time and do some online research to find out exactly what you need to do and what tools you will need to finish the job correctly. If you still have doubts, call a professional.
- Using Chemical Drain Cleaners too Often
One of the most common DIY plumbing techniques is pouring powerful chemicals down the drain to clear a clog. While this may offer a short-term fix, if you do this too often you risk doing serious damage to your pipes. Even worse, your drain cleaner will probably not even work that well if you have a major obstruction.
There are some persistent clogs, however, that you may be able to clear yourself. A hand auger is an inexpensive tool that has a long cable with a twisted end that bores through obstructions and removes unwanted materials. If that tool will not be big enough for the job, rent a drain snake. Before you start any work, however, carefully read all of the instructions to make sure you are using the tool correctly. If you have a particularly troublesome clog, you will be much better off having a professional remove it.
- Using Duct Tape to Fix Leaking Pipes
You would be surprised at how many people think that simply wrapping duct tape around a leaking pipe will fix the problem. While this type of tape may be great for a lot of different household fixes, plumbing is not one of them. Plumbers tapes can be used to temporarily stop a small leak in a pipe until a permanent fix is made.
Duct tape is nothing but a temporary stopgap at best and will do nothing to address the root cause of the problem. You need to make sure you have the right materials for the job in order to properly fix any sort of pipe leak; using duct tape will very likely result in much more extensive damage down the road.
- Trying to Attach Your Washing Machine to the Sink
A lot of people become frustrated when their washing machine does not drain correctly and simply attach the hose to the closest sink. However, just like using duct tape to fix a pipe leak, this is a short-term solution at best — it does nothing to properly address the root issue. Please call a professional if your washing machine is having drainage problems. If you try to connect it to the sink, you will substantially increase the chances you will eventually have a much larger problem on your hands.
Again, there is nothing wrong with having a do-it-yourself attitude when it comes to dealing with routine plumbing problems around your home. Nevertheless, trying to save a little money in the short term could cost you much more in the long run if you do not know exactly what you are doing. If you have any reason whatsoever to believe you are not properly equipped to handle a DIY plumbing project, call an expert.
Tom Mascari is the President of Mendel Plumbing & Heating. They are a commercial and residential HVAC company that provides plumbing, heating, cooling and electrical services to the Fox Valley area. They also specialize in residential air duct sealing, remodeling and maintenance services.