Avoid These 5 DIY-Plumber Pitfalls

February 4, 2019 Brendan Ellingham

More and more people are strapping on their tool belts and taking matters into their own hands. Yes, DIYing has become increasingly popular. You, too, may relish the idea of getting your hands dirty from time to time. Maybe it’s doing some light maintenance on your vehicle, refurbishing an old book-shelf, or even doing some more involved fixes – rather than shelling out any of your hard-earned cash. These days, resources for the DIY’er are as available as ever. A quick search on YouTube can often find someone who’s done a similar job and graciously provided their step-by-steps to help you out. Have a plumbing issue? Well, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to, at least, find the How-To’s to get you started. Before long, you’ve gathered a little bit of knowledge and a lot more confidence. “This doesn’t look so tough. I can do this!” Feeling empowered, you set off to find the tools you need, maybe head to the hardware store, and get started. But, is this the wisest decision?

Many DIY jobs start off with the best of intentions but then, somewhere during the project, reality sets in. Depending on the project at hand, this can have varying degrees of consequences. For the homeowner, the overwhelming requirement for a DIY plumbing job is to have the water shut off. So, at the very least, any delays or setbacks can result in some inconvenienced and irritated family members. Preventing these situations is important for your DIY-confidence, your free time, your family relations and, most certainly, your wallet.

When it comes to plumbing projects, there are a few pitfalls that are fairly common amongst DIY’ers. Being mindful of these can save you plenty of trouble.

1. Not turning off the water.

As obvious as it is, it would be remiss not to mention this. It’s just too common. Whether it was a forgotten step, or simply assuming that it wasn’t required, not shutting off the water supply can turn a routine job into a damaging mess. And it can happen quick. Save your carpets, flooring, walls and cabinets by ensuring no project starts until the water is off.  

2. Doing work that requires a permit.

Determining what plumbing projects require a permit may vary between jurisdictions; understanding whether your project requires a permit is the first step. Generally, they’ll be required for any major renovations or installations and likely, need an inspection to ensure building codes are met. Without the proper paperwork being taken care of, there could be issues if an insurance claim is filed or when the home is being sold.

3. Connecting incompatible pipes.

Many professional plumbers report this as a common sight when they’ve been called to address a leaky or damaged pipe. Connecting galvanized and copper piping causes corrosion. Unless a proper coupling is used, the two materials react with one another – accelerating the corrosion and degradation of the pipe. The same holds true for thermoplastic (plastic) pipes, don't assume that you can simply solvent weld them together. Most plumbing codes for instance don't allow ABS pipe to be solvent-welded to PVC. Always check with your local plumbing codes before beginning your project.

4. Using incorrect tools.

Like any project around the home, having the tools for the task makes things go much more efficiently. But, when it comes to plumbing, incorrect tools can cause damage. Even a bent or dented pipe can cause premature wear, leaks and future headaches. And stripping delicate threads can turn a seemingly-simple job into a costly, time-consuming ordeal.

5. Biting off more than you can chew.  

Minor fixes and adjustments, where there’s little risk involved, are often within the handy homeowner’s capabilities. But many DIY’ers tend to underestimate how involved many around-the-house plumbing jobs can be. Even with favourable results, the time, effort and resources required may have exceeded expectations. This can be a major inconvenience for all family members. And, of course, when a project doesn’t go as planned, the costs to have a professional make the corrections can be much more expensive.


Going to the pros is rarely a bad idea. A reliable, reputable plumber can be an efficient and cost-effective way to take care of whatever plumbing issue you may face. Especially for the bigger, more complicated projects, safety must always be your first priority. Having a professional take care of it is your safest bet. And when in doubt, ask. Many plumbers are happy to help you assess your project; enabling you to determine whether it’s a DIY opportunity or best left to the pros.

Previous Article
Are You Protected by a Backwater Valve?
Are You Protected by a Backwater Valve?

There’s nothing worse than a flooded basement. Well, actually there is – when the source of that flooded ba...

Next Article
Damaged Sewer Pipes Lead to Flooded Basements

Sewer lines are leaking. And if you’ve ever had to endure a flooded basement, you’ll know how painful the r...