5 Common Plumbing DIY Mistakes – How To Avoid Them

diy plumbing

Plumbing repairs can be tempting to undertake yourself. But these often end up with catastrophic consequences and expensive repair works later down the road.

So we thought it would help to highlight the most common plumbing DIY mistakes here, giving you that little bit of help if you ever do decide to go it yourself when you notice a small plumbing repair.

Read below for the most common examples of plumbing repairs gone wrong. And keep an eye out for our expert tips on how to avoid a plumbing DIY disaster!

Mixing Up Wyes, Tees and Elbow Joints

Possibly one of the worst plumbing DIY mistakes that we like to see is where the wyes, tees and elbow joints are changed around. Often like a game of tetris, we see people mix these up and try to create their own fits instead of following the golden rules of plumbing.

Solutions to different plumbing problems require their own unique fixes. A tee, wye or long/short elbow sweep require different situations for them to be applied properly. You need to know what plumbing problem requires what solution, and know when each fitting should be used.

For example if you were to use a 90 degree vent elbow to alter the direction of a drain line, you are going to create a lot of clogs in your drainpipe. Now, unless you like regularly unclogging your drain pipe, I would leave these kinds of plumbing jobs to professionals to ensure that there are no plumbing DIY mistakes that would leave you feeling red in the face when you need to call out an experienced plumber and explain to them what you have done! And even more embarrassingly, why!

Alternatively for light plumbing works you should always refer to trusted plumbing information sources to ensure you make no rookie errors!

Not Having The Right Equipment To Hand

Another common mistake caused by DIY are jobs that have been completed with the wrong parts or tools. An easy remedy to this would be to prepare for the job in hand, know the replacement parts you may need along with the tools that will be required to complete the job.


Alas this is often not the case, and many people take on a job that they are not prepared to handle. It is a common misconception from DIYers that they can complete any job they need with the tools that they have to hand in their often limited toolboxes. This is where things often take a more sinister turn.

For example, cutting pipes to size Diyers often make the plumbing mistake of using hacksaws to get this job done. This will often leave jagged edges and not a clean cut. So instead invest in a pair of tubing cutters to get a far cleaner cut!

The same goes for plumbing parts!

For simple changes such as worn washers or cartridges, the average DIYer will not replace other faucet parts which will often be worn. A second trip to the hardware store is often needed to buy replacement parts for all components in a faucet repair job. Simply making do with what you have to hand constitutes a botch job. And we have all seen the horror stories from these types of works…

The main point here is that plumbers make these kinds of repairs look easy because they have the right tools and parts for the task at hand. Ill-preparedness is the downfall of the average DIYer and constitutes a common plumbing DIY mistake!

Not Turning Off Your Water Supply

If you try to tackle even the most basic plumbing tasks without turning off your water supply, you are almost screaming out for trouble. It is often the most rookiest of errors, but also the most easy to rectify.

If you go to swap a valve under your kitchen sink without turning the water supply off at the stopcock you are asking for trouble. If you cannot attach the right components quickly enough the full water pressure in your pipes will have your kitchen floor flooded before you can even scream for help.

This common plumbing DIY mistake can cause you thousands of pounds of damage, along with a huge dent in your personal pride as you explain to the plumber you will inevitably have to call out how the water flooded your kitchen to start with.

If you are going to undertake a simple plumbing DIY task, ALWAYS turn off the water supply. Read this article from WaterSafe to find out where and how to do this, if you are currently unaware!

Using Drain Cleaners Without First Considering Alternatives

Most people’s first thought when they notice that the drains are clogged or not draining away as they should, is to reach straight for the chemical drain cleaner. Now, yes this can work sometimes. But it is much like sticking a plaster on top of a great big gash, rather than going to the hospital and getting the stitches.

Liquid drain cleaners are certainly not the go to choice, and often create more problems than they solve. The corrosive nature of the liquid in chemical drain cleaners can damage your pipes causing a leak to form, alongside the original blockage. Drain cleaners can also damage any of the rubber gaskets that may be in the makeup of your drain line!

You are much better using a snake drain cleaning tool or removing the P-trap to remove the blockage that way. If either of these do not do the job, instead of reaching for the drain cleaner, reach for your phone and dial in a plumbers number.

Applying Too Much Force When Tightening Or Removing Components

Now this common plumbing DIY mistake has much to do with your ego. We have all been there when a stubborn component won’t loosen. The usual answer is we roll up our sleeves and use more force to try to prise loose the nut, bolt or valve. But more muscle isn’t always the answer.

Doing this to shut off valves can lead to the knob or lever breaking off, and even at times breaking the valve stem with it. Instead of muscle and brawn, a little bit of ingenuity and brains can remedy or prevent this DIY plumbing mistake.

Use an adjustable wrench to loosen the nut just enough so that you can turn the knob. Once you have completed the job, tighten it back up in the same way, just enough to ensure that no leaks will occur.

To Conclude…

As tempting as it is to take on a plumbing task without the use of a professional plumber, you can see here why plumbers justify their price tags. Their job is not as simple and straightforward as some articles on the internet may have you believe.

But if you are intent on undertaking a small task then hopefully these tips have helped you avoid some of the most common DIY plumbing mishaps. For more complex and larger repair works in Essex give Into Plumbing and Heating a call on 0800 188 4864. For works further afield of Essex, use a trusted local directory such as InfoBest to search for a plumber in your area.

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