Common Plumbing Mistakes and How to Avoid Calling Plumber

As the old saying goes, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions”.  In spite of our best home plumbing motives, we all make mistakes. Home improvement projects rarely go as well as we hoped and common plumbing mistakes are no exception.  Some of them are more expensive than others.  Often we don’t even know we’ve made them.  They seem to come out of nowhere. Water starts to pool under the kitchen sink or the basement seems to be filling with water.  Something is definitely wrong, but what happened?  Since you don’t know for sure you have to call an emergency plumber.  Some problems lead to worst plumbing mistake. Let’s discuss some of the most common plumbing mistakes that result in needing an emergency plumber.

Avoid These Common Plumbing Mistakes

#1 Common Plumbing Mistakes: Forcing Too Much Down the Garbage Disposal

We eat our food one small bite at a time and we chew between bites.  This principle applies to the garbage disposal as well. Additionally, there are certain items that don’t belong in garbage disposals at all.  Plumbers find all kinds of things clogging up the blades of garbage disposals.  Fruit rinds are big culprits.  People will put watermelon, cantaloupe, and pumpkin down the throat of their disposals as if they were making a parfait.  When the blades stop turning, the motor starts burning.  Another thing to keep in mind is that party guests tend to think garbage disposals are invincible as well.  Check it out after the party has ground to a halt before you just start grinding the garbage disposal.

garbage disposal

#2 Common Plumbing Mistakes: The Knockout Plug is Left in the Garbage Disposal

Home improvement projects usually aren’t too complicated, but “the Devil is in the details” as they say. This is true about installing your own garbage disposal.  Garbage disposals are installed in line with one of your kitchen sink drains to pulverize small food scraps that would otherwise clog up your plumbing.  If your kitchen design includes a dishwashing machine, this is typically plumbed  to the disposal as well.  What is the common mistake?   Don’t forget to remove the knockout plug.  Failure to do so results in damaged seal rings and water all over the kitchen and cabinets.


#3 Common Plumbing Mistakes: Plumbing Fixture Overload

The shower caddy, one of the plumber’s greatest enemies.  These convenient product holding contraptions were not designed by plumbers.  Some people hang them from the shower head.  Some prefer the hot or cold water valves.  Either way, they can create plumbing problems. Hanging something light like a body scrubber or soap on a rope is one thing, but a whole closet full of conditioners and shampoos puts considerable strain on the fixture. Additionally, many hair products are designed with a pump-action squirt head.  Pumping that bottle fatigues the pluming joint even more.  When the break happens flush with the wall, repairs are intrusive and costly.

Another fixture that seems to be mistreated is the “bathtub footrest”.  When I say “footrest” I mean the bathtub water faucet.  The bathtub faucet doesn’t run water down your staircase, so don’t step on the bathtub faucet.

plumbing fixture

#4 Common Plumbing Mistakes: Materials That Aren’t Made to go Together

Here’s an interesting fact about the universe: opposing metals generate electricity.  Isn’t that cool!  That’s how early batteries worked.  Voltaire (the scientist whose name generated the word “volt”) stacked copper and zinc discs in a tower-like structure immersed in salt water.  This generated electrical current.  The side effects resulted in erosion of the opposing metals.  This happens to metal plumbing pipes as well, a fact many DIY plumber don’t know.  When you go to connect dissimilar metals like iron and copper, you need a dielectric union.  This union is designed with a neutral seal that prevents direct contact.  Direct connection will result in dielectric corrosion and an eventual pipe break.


#5 Common Plumbing Mistakes: Abusing Your Flushing Privileges

If your five year old chooses to flush his toys down the toilet all bets are off.  Even if the toy they flush is Mario or Luigi, these little plumbers can’t help you out. I get it, swirling water that makes stuff disappear is like magic in the eyes of a child.  But it’s not so great for your plumbing.

Don’t store items on the back tank of the toilet.  Avoid installing shelving units behind the toilet as items may accidentally go for a dive while you are mid-flush.  Oh and by the way, it’s better not to keep your smart phone in an open shirt pocket.  The turn, bow, flush maneuver will get you every time.


#6 Common Plumbing Mistakes: Dumping Construction Materials Down Your Drains

What do you do with the left over house paint or grout sealant?  Pour it down the toilet or basement drains?  Answer: No.  This happens more often than you would think.  These products were not made to be disposed of in this way.  Some think running hot water or chemical drain cleaners helps the situation. Nope, it doesn’t.  Just don’t do it!

leaky faucet

#7 Common Plumbing Mistakes: The Twist-to-fix Leaky Faucet Method

Fixtures and faucets leak for a reason.  When a valve or pipe fitting develops a leak, it’s tempting to just get a wrench and crank on it. Even if you have the plumbing tools, think before you act.  All too often this method just makes matters worse. Contact an experienced plumber to do it right.

If you have to do it yourself, follow these steps.  First, locate and shut off the supply water valves.  Then disassemble the leaking parts and inspect the joint or threads.  Next replace the worn out section with new parts.  It takes time but it’s worth it.

We face enough self-inflicted problems in life, let’s not add plumbing mistakes to the list.  The consequences of plumbing mistakes include: chronic leaks, clogged, broken fixtures, even flooded homes.  Try your best to avoid these situations.  But when you can’t, call a professional to care for your plumbing fixes.  This will end up being cheaper and you will avoid making the situation worse.  Don’t put it off.  Act now.

common plumbing mistakes

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