10 DIY Plumbing Mistakes and How to Fix Them

10 DIY Plumbing Mistakes and How to Fix Them

In this article I’ll cover 10 plumbing mistakes that beginners make and how they could be avoided.

1. Not Sloping Your Pipe (or sloping it incorrectly)

A proper slope is a must when doing any type of drain. If it’s sloped right, it’ll allow for two things: the first is for the waste to flow adequately in a particular direction and secondly not to siphon out a p-trap.

If a nearby toilet flushes with an improper slope, it’ll create a negative pressure in the pipes and siphon out a p-trap close by, allowing for sewer gases to enter the house. To avoid this, slope your pipe accordingly and make sure you have proper venting nearby.

2. Not Installing Water Hammer Arrestors

Before water hammer arrestors appeared, we’d install a tee with an eighteen-inch section of pipe that would be filled with air upon filling of the system, and cushion any hammering inside the pipes. With time, these would fill up with water and cease to do their job.

To fix any knocking in the pipes, it’s highly recommended to install dedicated arresters. They’re most often installed near fast valve closing appliances, such as toilets or washing machines.

3. Reusing Flexible Speedways

Speedways, otherwise known as flexible hoses, are one of your home’s weakest link in terms of plumbing. These flexible hoses are made of rubber and have a stainless steel jacket to protect the core from anything that could damage them, such as animals and so on.

These typically have a lifespan of around five years and should be replaced soon after. To know if yours are still good, visually inspect them and if there are any frays or leaks it’s a good sign it, needs a replacement.

4. Using a Lead Solder on a Potable Water System

Lead, as many of you may already know, is proven to be harmful if ingested for a long period of time.

Many homes built before the 1980s used lead solder to joint copper pipes together. With the new code, lead has been banned for potable water systems and replaced with 95/5. 95/5 is a mix of tin and antimony and is completely lead-free so it’s safe to use for drinking water.

What to retain from this is always check your solder before, to make sure you’re using the correct one if doing a repair.

5. Not Deburring the Inside of Your Pipes

When a pipe is cut, a burr is formed inside which results in several negative outcomes: it reduces the pipes inner diameter and causes turbulence if not removed. Turbulence, in the long run, could cause unwanted leaks and lead to a lot of damage in your home.

To resolve this issue, always deburr your pipes with either a round file, a utility knife, or, if you have a dedicated reaming tool, that’s even better. Most pipe cutters have one built into them and a lot of people don’t know about it.

6. Improper Cleaning of Pipes and Fittings

When soldiering, cleanliness is crucial to getting a leak free joint. A store-bought copper pipe has oxidation on it, due to being in contact with the air, and needs to be properly cleaned before soldiering.

Fittings are less likely to have any oxidation on them and don’t always need to be brushed. However if they’ve been laying somewhere for a while and need it, you could use a fitting brush or cut the tip and use it in your drill to accelerate the process.

To properly clean a pipe use, an abrasive material and scrub the pipe thoroughly. Make sure the flux you’re using is clean and free of debris. I prefer to use a Fluxuator instead of an open jar as it’s contained and free of any contaminants when not in use.

7. Not Isolating Your Exterior Hydrants in Winter

An exterior hydrant is in contact with the outside temperature, and if not insulated, could burst due to water expansion in the pipe.

It’s highly recommended to isolate with a valve inside the house and drain any excess water outside to properly winterize it. Better yet, install one of these non-freezing hydrants and never worry about forgetting to close a valve anymore.

Non-freezing hydrants use a rod type system, and close the water inside the house, where it’s a lot hotter, and less likely to freeze.

8. Not Hanging Your Pipes Correctly

This could sometimes be overlooked but mustn’t for copper water lines. Not hanging your pipes correctly could eventually weaken them, and cause them to fail at a joint for example, resulting in water damage.

Think of it like a metal wire. If bent a couple of times it’ll just break off. The same thing applies for your water lines. To make sure this doesn’t happen, always add a hanger at every 6 feet or so for 1/2 inch and ¾ inch copper lines. This way you’re sure to never have any problems.

9. Applying Pipe Dope and then Teflon Tape.

There’s a lot of controversy going on whether you should put your pipe dope on first, or after applying your teflon tape. The answer is simple: if you dope then tape, the tape will tend to want to be pushed back instead of staying on the threads, possibly causing your joint to leak.

The proper way of doing it is installing your teflon tape first, then applying your pipe dope if so desired.

This method will give you a much cleaner finish and has less possibilities of it leaking as well.

10. Stripping or Cross Threading a Pipe or Fitting

This is a common mistake that a lot of beginners and do-it-yourselfers make and that could easily be avoided. A cross thread is easy to diagnose: it’ll be a lot harder than usual to tighten, most likely leak, and won’t go in straight like a normal pipe would.

The reason this happens is that the threads aren’t aligned at the beginning, and you basically make new ones as you’re tightening it. For this not to happen, always start off by hand, and make sure it’s cruising smoothly before using a tool to finalize the tightening process.

A quick tip here is to start off in a counterclockwise direction to align the threads. You’ll see it go into place, which means you’re good to go.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *