Ask a Plumber Blog: Guidance from a Master Plumber

9 Common Home Plumbing Mistakes to Avoid

Dripping faucets, a toilet that won’t stop running, or even a leaky pipe beneath the sink – These are just a few of the simple plumbing problems that a homeowner can usually handle on their own, often without the need for hiring a professional plumber.

Unfortunately, attempting these simple fixes can sometimes lead to costly mistakes – mistakes where the homeowner doesn’t at first realize that they are actually making a problem worse.

Here are 9 of the most common home plumbing mistakes we see and how you can avoid them.

common home plumbing problems to avoid toilet bathroom and kitchen

Common Home Plumbing Mistake #1: Sending Things Down the Toilet that You Shouldn’t

It is usually just common sense for folks to know that you shouldn’t try to flush things down the toilet (like toys or other odd items, such as feminine products), but this the most common home plumbing mistake that we see in homes that have children and young teenagers.

The problem is that these types of items may initially go down the toilet okay, but then they get stuck somewhere along the drain line. When this happens, it not only can cause a clog, but if it gets completely stuck it may require removal of the entire toilet just to reach it.

#2 Using Too Much Drain Cleaner

Although commercial drain cleaners are great for getting rid of drain clogs and built-up residue, using too much of these types of products can often do more damage than good.

The problem is that commercial drain cleaners generally contain harsh chemicals to help break up a clog and if you overuse them, they can start to eat into the walls of the plumbing system. These types of cleaners not only can destroy metal pipes, but PVC pipes as well.

The best solution for this is to try to avoid creating the problem in the first place, by watching what you let go down the drain. If there is a problem, try natural solutions first like using vinegar and baking soda to loosen up the clog and then using a plunger to open up the drain.

#3 Taking a Faucet Apart and Forgetting How to Put it Back Together

It really is fairly easy to take something like a water faucet apart. Putting the faucet back together again though – now, that often becomes the tricky part.

Once a faucet is disassembled, a lot of those little pieces start to look alike. If you haven’t been paying attention, then figuring out how to get it all back together again can become quite the challenge – trust us.

If you want to avoid this problem, we suggest that you take some pictures of the faucet as you take it apart, then you can see how it all fits back together again.

It’s not only going to save you time later, it will save you the money you might have to spend if you need to call us to come out to repair or replace the faucet.

tools to fix plumbing problems trinity plumbing

#4 Not Having the Proper Tools Before You Start the Job

If you don’t have the proper tools for the plumbing job you want to complete, you may find yourself dealing with complications that only make your plumbing problem worse.

As an example, using a Flat Head screwdriver instead of a Phillips head screwdriver could damage the head of the screw you’re trying to remove from a faucet and make it harder to remove.

To keep this from happening, always research what kind of tools you should have before you start your plumbing project and make sure you have the right tools for the job.

#5 Overtightening the Connections

When it comes to pipes and fittings, you might think that tighter is better, but that is often not the case. Overtighten a galvanized pipe, elbow, or coupling and you may crack the fitting. Overtighten a toilet closet bolt at the floor and you could even crack the porcelain and mess up the toilet.

The really bad part about this is that the crack you have created may not even be noticed right away. It could be weeks later when the fitting actually completely breaks and by then you could be dealing with a leak that could cause major flooding.

It is sometimes hard to determine how tight is too tight, but once the connection feels secure with no movement, it is usually best to not try to tighten it any further.

#6 Trying to Force a Stuck Shut Off Valve

The only thing worse than trying to overtighten a connection is trying to use too much muscle to force a stuck shut off valve.

Sink and toilet shut off valves often become stuck in an open position when they are not operated for a long period of time. If you can’t turn the knob with just your hand, don’t think that forcing it to turn will somehow work. This not only can break off the knob, you could break the valve stem off too.

The trick to fixing this problem is to use an adjustable wrench that allows you to loosen the stem nut just a little bit, so that it unsticks and you can turn the knob. Once you’ve finished your plumbing project, just retighten the stem nut and check to make sure that the shut off valve hasn’t developed a leak.

#7 Failure to Turn Off the Water

A lot of homeowners either forget to turn the water off or they think that if they work really quickly, they can leave the water on and simply swap out an old valve for a new one.

The problem is that this rarely goes as planned and then you have the full force of the water pressure flooding the room and possibly even dripping down to the floors beneath.

This is why you should always turn off the water at the main water shut off valve before you begin any plumbing project, or at least turn off the shut off valve to the fixture you plan to work on.

common home plumbing mistakes - not following local building codes

#8 Not Following Local Building Codes

It’s not unusual for homeowners who want to save money to take on their own minor renovation projects. If they do so without having knowledge of the local building codes, however, they may find themselves in trouble down the road when they decide to sell their home or update their homeowner’s insurance.

Not only will you have to bring things up to code if the errors are discovered, by not doing it correctly the first time, you could be creating dangerous conditions that might go undetected for months or even years until the error is exposed.

Before you start any type of home renovation, make sure to look up both city and state regulations to make sure your project stays in compliance.

And Common Home Plumbing Mistake #9: Not Knowing Your Limitations

Sometimes it can be difficult to know when a plumbing project is beyond your skill level. The best way to learn whether or not you should try to tackle a project is to actually talk to a professional.

Start by asking questions like, “what all is involved in finishing this project” and “how would you handle this?”

Once you understand what all is involved, you can determine whether you have the knowledge and skills to do the job or if it would be better to leave it to the professionals.

What to Do When You Run into Trouble

Trust us, we get it. There is no judgement here. When a problem develops and all else fails, call the professional plumbing company you can trust. Trinity Plumbing enjoys helping homeowners work through their plumbing projects, and we have the skills you need to fix those little things that may have not quite gone the way that you planned.

Avoid plumbing mistakes, contact Trinity Plumbing to schedule service.

Robert (Master Plumber)

Robert (Master Plumber)

Owner of Trinity Plumbing, LLC
Residential & Commercial Plumbing

Serving: Acworth, Dallas, Kennesaw, Marietta, Smyrna, & surrounding Metro Atlanta areas

Full Bio & All Author Posts
Robert (Master Plumber)

Robert (Master Plumber)

Owner of Trinity Plumbing, LLC
Residential & Commercial Plumbing

Serving: Acworth, Dallas, Kennesaw, Marietta, Smyrna, & surrounding Metro Atlanta areas

Full Bio & All Author Posts