When installing plumbing systems, fixtures and pipe in your own home, there’s no doubt an array of things that could go wrong, or otherwise complicate your DIY project. Renovation setbacks, missteps and errors can spell huge problems later on, and drain your time as well as your wallet.
That being said, there are a number of things you can do to avoid the most common mistakes people make when installing their own plumbing fixtures.
Equipping Yourself for the Task at Hand (and More)
While we’ve gone into detail on general plumbing tools you should have before taking on any sort of plumbing repair, we have not yet discussed essential equipment for large-scale projects, such as installing a new shower or renovating your bathroom.
The following is a list of tools and materials you need to have before putting certain plumbing projects into motion. Moving on with projects without any of these is a simple, entirely avoidable mistake too many homeowners make during DIY plumbing renovations.
Installing a new shower:
- Shower wall panels and sets
- Construction adhesive and silicone caulk
- Drywall screws
- Hole saw and keyhole saw
- Pry bar
Installing a layer of tile:
- Sanded and unsnapped grout
- Mortar to hold tiles in place
- Trowels to work with the mortar
- Wet saw
- Grout float
Replacing a sink:
- Plumber’s putty and a putty knife
- Silicone caulk
- Channel-locking pliers
- Adjustable wrench
- Bucket to catch water
- Box knife
- Expanding foam, if there is significant space between kitchen sink basins (as this space creates the load echo effect of some sink models)
Installing a new toilet:
- Wax seal
- Toilet supply tube
- Adjustable wrench
- Slip-joint and needlenose pliers
Each of these projects call for their own steps and tools to get the job done hassle-free. Taking on certain projects without these tools is asking for trouble to happen.
Also, stick with manufacturer’s instructions for installing certain fixtures. Not all sinks, showers and toilet models are alike, and some may require additional steps for a successful installation.
Do All of the Preliminary Work
Early preparation is just as important to DIY home plumbing projects as the tools and materials you’ll wind up using. Skipping these steps is practically begging for problems later on, as obvious problems and incorrect data can then fly under your DIY radar. Things like pre-fitting showers, taking level measurements and recording dimensions can make or break an entire project, and let you know if minor adjustments must be made before the real work starts.
For instance, if you catch an unleveled surface or wall during bathtub installation before drilling valve holes or laying the base, you can avoid hours and funds wasted on correcting the issue. It’s easier to fix a minor problem like that well before you kick your DIY renovations off, and going through the preliminary steps is really the only way to do so.
Know When to Uninstall and Reinstall Electrical Lines
Another common, costly mistake homeowners make during major plumbing renovations is uninstalling or reinstalling electrical lines at the wrong time. The first step of any big project (such as ones that demand reframing walls and moving other large fixtures) should be disconnecting electrical lines; lines that should not be reinstalled until the project is 100% complete.
Reinstalling utility lines and then realizing you need to reframe a shower wall is going to be a significant amount of work, and it’s going to be expensive.
Recognize When You Need to Ask for Help
The most helpful pointer we could possible give on DIY plumbing installations is this: don’t get in over your head. While many plumbing projects seem cheaper to do solo than they do with the help of a plumber, when accidents do happen, one of two things will happen: either you’ll have to put projects on hold until you get a professional’s help, or you’ll have to take more expensive, corrective action to resolve a problem.
For certain plumbing projects, consulting with an expert first is highly advised. Let them know the project you’re planning, and they may be able to help you avoid common and costly plumbing mistakes that so many homeowners make every day.