DIY Plumbing Do’s and Don’ts: Avoid Disasters with Tips from a Pro Plumber

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We’ve all been there – a leaky faucet, a clogged drain, or a running toilet that just won’t quit. The temptation to grab a wrench and play plumber for a day can be strong. But before you dive into that DIY plumbing project, it’s worth considering what can go wrong. To get some expert insight, we sat down with Master Plumber Isaac Gann of Panther City Plumbing to learn which plumbing tasks are DIY-friendly and which are best left to the pros.  You can listen to our full interview with Isaac on the House Fluent Podcast inside your favorite podcasting app or read the transcript in our episode post.

Q: Isaac, what are some plumbing tasks that homeowners can safely tackle themselves?

A: There are definitely some simple repairs that most handy homeowners can handle. Garbage disposal maintenance is a good example. If your disposal is jammed and humming, turn off the power and use an Allen wrench in the bottom to manually spin it. You can also use pliers to fish out any debris causing issues. Simple toilet repairs like replacing a flapper or fill valve are also pretty straightforward. And many homeowners can handle basic faucet replacements, as long as the shut-off valves are working properly.

Q: What about more complex plumbing projects? Are there some definite "don'ts" when it comes to DIY?

A: Absolutely. I'd strongly caution against any major bathroom or kitchen renovations that involve moving plumbing lines. Water heater replacements, especially switching from tank to tankless, are also best left to professionals. And anything requiring permits or involving gas lines should always be done by a licensed plumber.

Q: What are some of the most common mistakes you see with DIY plumbing attempts?

A: The number one mistake is forgetting to turn off the water supply before starting a project. That can lead to some serious flooding! Not having the right tools for the job is another big one. Plumbing requires some specialized tools that most homeowners don't have lying around. But perhaps the biggest issue is underestimating the scope and complexity of a project. What seems like a simple fix can quickly snowball into a major undertaking, especially in older homes. I've seen plenty of weekend projects turn into week-long ordeals.

Q: How can homeowners know when it's time to call in a professional plumber?

A: If you're not confident in your ability to complete the repair safely and effectively, that's a good sign to call a pro. Also, if you find yourself making multiple trips to the hardware store or the project is taking much longer than anticipated, it's probably time to bring in some help. Plumbing issues that involve sewage, gas lines, or could potentially cause water damage if something goes wrong are always best handled by professionals. And if you're dealing with recurring problems, a plumber can often identify and fix the root cause more effectively than temporary DIY solutions.

Q: Any final words of wisdom for our readers on DIY plumbing?

A: Remember that while DIY can be satisfying and potentially save money, it's important to know your limits. Plumbing mistakes can be costly and cause significant damage. If you're unsure about a project, it's always better to consult with a professional. And don't forget - if you do tackle a DIY plumbing job, make sure you know where your main water shut-off valve is located. It could save you from a major disaster!

While there are some simple DIY plumbing repairs that you can tackle, especially if you’re handy, it’s clear that many plumbing projects are best left to the professionals. As Isaac’s experiences demonstrate, even seemingly straightforward repairs can quickly spiral into complex, time-consuming, and potentially costly ordeals. When in doubt, calling a licensed plumber like Isaac can save you time, money, and a lot of headaches in the long run. They have the specialized tools, knowledge, and experience to handle unexpected issues that may arise. So before you embark on your next plumbing project, carefully consider whether it’s truly a DIY job or if it’s time to bring in an expert. Your home (and your marriage) may thank you for it.

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