10 Mistakes That Will Make You Call the Plumber

10 Mistakes That Will Make You Call the Plumber

A pipe springs a leak, the drain backs up, or you need professional help with the water lines when remodeling a bathroom—these are all good reasons to phone a plumber. But sometimes you pick up the phone in need of emergency help after making a boneheaded mistake. We asked the pros what errors they see most frequently so you can avoid them.

Treating the Garbage Disposal Like a Trash Compactor
Despite the name, not all garbage belongs in the disposals. Most garbage doesn’t, yet some homeowners want to cram their waste down there until the blades stop turning. Stuff like Watermelon rinds, potato peels, and pumpkin carvings are common items that plumbers and handymen have had to remove to free the blades.

Forgetting to Remove the Disposal Plug
Another common mistake with garbage disposals happens with the installation. The install is straightforward and doesn’t require advanced plumbing skills, but if the unit is to be connected to a dishwasher, a knockout plug in the disposal must be removed first. If there’s no dishwasher, there’s no issue—the plug creates a seal. But if there is a dishwasher and the plug isn’t removed, then it’ll block the hole where the dishwasher hose connects, causing water to leak everywhere.

Placing Too Much Weight on Fixtures
Holland has a simple message for homeowners: Don’t put weight on plumbing fixtures. That means not hanging heavy shampoo racks from showerheads or using the bathtub spout as a footrest. “They are not made to have weight on them,” Holland says. “It’ll snap the showerhead right off at the threads.”

Joining Dissimilar Metals Without the Proper Connector
Connecting different types of metals in plumbing pipes, such as steel and copper, requires the proper coupling. Without it the metals can quickly corrode at the connection, which is called dielectric corrosion. The corrosion can build up and close the pipe. Plumbers know that connecting two different metals requires the use of a special dielectric union, which costs about $6. Dielectric unions separate the two metals with a rubber washer and plastic sleeve so they don’t touch each other.

Flushing Household Items or Toys Down the Toilet
Every veteran plumber or handyman has a story about getting called to a home because the family flushed something inappropriate or bizarre down the toilet. If the items get stuck in the trap, then the toilet has to be removed to retrieve them. Plunging can make the problem worse by pushing the toy into the waste line. Holland says he once found a plastic toy camera that had been plunged into, and then stuck inside, the waste line.

Dumping Construction Materials Down Drains
You probably feel a great sense of accomplishment after completing a DIY project such as filling holes in walls or giving the room a new paint job. But you could have a new project on your hands if you dump building materials, such as the joint compound used for repairing walls, down the drain. Emptying into or cleaning construction materials in the sink can cause it to back up because the materials can harden in the drain and block it. Most of the time, the liquid goes down the drain and the solids stay behind. You’re not going to get that out with a drain cleaner.

Cranking on a Faucet Handle
Repeat after me: Pushing or pulling really hard on a faucet handle when you turn it off is not going to stop a leak or a chronic drip. “One of the most common things homeowners do is crank on it when it’s not working,” Holland says, and pushing too hard can break the handle without solving the leak or drip problem.

Stripping Threads
Here is more proof that good plumbing is not a test of strength. Like pushing too hard on faucet handles, overtightening plumbing components can cause them to leak or break. Any type of drain part, especially the common plastic and chrome materials, can have their threads stripped by too much tightening. “It doesn’t take much.”

Turning on the Water Heater Before it’s Ready
Some homeowners can’t wait to turn on their new electric water heater and put it to work. But just because the pipes are attached doesn’t mean it’s immediately ready for use. If the water heater is turned on before it’s full of water, it can burn up.

Forgetting How Things Go Back Together
Taking apart your plumbing components is easy. Putting them back together? Not so much. Some experts advise taking digital pictures of the dis-assembly process to help when it’s time to put the item together again. Whether you’re working on your kitchen or your car, it’s a good idea to back up your own memory with some written records.


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  5. great tips, thanks alot, ill share this with the guys.

  6. Thanks for giving us an important information related to plumbing.I really appreciate this post because sometimes we do common mistakes which are not good for our ideal plumbing system.

  7. If you don’t want plumbing in your home frozen, then don’t let the inside temperature go under the freezing mark, and make sure any pipes that have no protection from the elements are thoroughly insulated. Pipes have the potential to freeze if the surrounding temperatures are below the freezing mark. If pipes do freeze, the best possible scenario would include taking time for the pipes to thaw and any frozen water to drain. But, they could also burst, causing a mess and a large repair bill.

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