Are You a DIY'er? Avoid These Common Plumbing Mistakes


Minor leaks such as that slow drip under the bathroom counter may inspire you to experiment with your plumbing skills. But you must take extra precautions to ensure that minor leak doesn’t turn into a huge one.

While we can’t always convince you to leave it to the pros, we felt that the least we can do is help you to avoid making these common (costly) plumbing mistakes. Read on to prepare yourself, and don’t feel bad if you were planning on doing exactly what you shouldn’t. You’re not the only one!


1. Toilet placement

I’m sure you’ve seen those “Plumbing Failures” photos of bathrooms where an improperly installed toilet prevents the door from closing. That’s not the only mistake you can make, however. We’ve seen many people place a toilet three feet away from the toilet paper roll and two inches from the bathtub. Either one makes for a very uncomfortable bathroom experience that is totally preventable with adequate planning and proper measurements.

2. Improper slope

A steeper slope leads to less clogs and faster draining, right? Wrong! When you install a drain for a sink, make sure to keep the slope at 1/4”/foot. This will ensure that solids can flow at the same rate as liquids, preventing frequent and major backups.

3. Using too much drain cleaner

Drain clogs are inconvenient, and sometimes calling a plumber for one is too. Take extra care if you choose to use a drain cleaner to cut through that clog, though, as it is possible to use too much. Regardless of whether your home used PVC or metal piping, drain cleaner is a powerful abrasive that will break down the walls of the pipes after time. Make sure to closely follow the directions on the label to prevent any unneeded damage.

4. Pipe material

If you’re not an experience plumber, it’s difficult to know exactly what type of pipe to use. The most important thing here is to make sure you avoid using reacting materials such as copper and galvanized metal. These two metals can corrode each other very quickly, causing all sorts of problems.

5. Forgetting to turn off the water

While this may seem like an obvious one, many homeowners get ahead of themselves when it comes to simple plumbing repairs. Now you shouldn’t have to turn off the main water shutoff valve (read more about this valve) as a supply shutoff should suffice. You can typically locate the toilet shutoff behind the toilet bowl, and the sink shutoff underneath the counter. (Check out next week’s post for more information on supply shutoffs).

6. Insufficient clean outs

One of the most common errors in DIY plumbing is inadequate or improper placement of clean outs. While cleanouts are not a requirement above the first floor, it’s usually a good idea to add one even if it’s just to service the line. There should be a clean out at the base of every sanitary stack or when the change of direction exceeds 45 degrees.

7. Not calling a plumber

Nobody likes admitting that they can’t do something! For the ultra stubborn DIY’ers, you might not even admit to admitting that it sucks when you can’t do something. But when it comes to your home’s plumbing system, sometimes the best solution is to call in the professionals. While we admire your dedication and determination, we also want to make sure your home is kept safe and dry. And when you call Proven Plumbing, you can make sure it’s exactly that.