We get it. With our schedules as busy as they are, fixing your plumbing yourself can seem like such a hassle. But it does seem like plumbers are getting more and more expensive every day.
If it’s a small project, you might as well do it yourself. However, plumbing is not one of those things where you can make mistakes and learn as you go. One bad mistake and you may end up flooding your house. Or even worse, you run the risk of releasing all manners of pungent gunk over yourself, your clothes and your freshly mopped floors.
Hence, it’s a good practice to keep a few fundamental safety precautions mind before you go ahead with your DIY task.
Plumbing Safety Basics Do’s and Don’ts
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The most important thing to remember is to think about your next steps and plan your whole task out. Also, it’s best to have a friend around, someone who’s got a little more experience in this particular field.
Make sure you have all the necessary equipment
Some of these tools aren’t always necessary, but here’s a basic checklist of what you should have
- basin wrench
- plumbers snake
- metal file
- pipe wrench
- propane torch
- silicone sealant
- Teflon tape
- tubing cutter
- fire-resistant cloth
If you have these tools handy, you should be more or less okay. Also make sure you have a flashlight, latex gloves and a stool you can rest on.
Learn the local building codes and requirements
Every house and locality has its building codes and plumbing codes and regulations. Some jobs are required by law to be done by professional plumbers only.
These codes are there for you and your neighborhood’s protection, so do not ignore them. Hitting a utility line can cause serious problems fir your whole neighborhood. Leaving out a vacuum breaker can pollute the entire neighborhoods drinking water supply. Do your homework before you start to ensure your DIY task doesn’t end with you spending the night in jail.
Shut off the main water supply
Consider beforehand whether you need to shut the water off and what faucets and taps you can use to do that. Clogged drains and pipes can release water with tremendous pressure, and it can feel like a firehouse if you’re right in its path. If it’s a sewage pipe, you definitely want to make sure the pipes don’t drain towards you.
Also know where the water mains are, so that if disaster does strike, you can run to the mains and turn it off, before your house turns into the apocalypse.
Protect your eyes
If you are going to be doing a job on your back looking up, it’s imperative to wear safety glasses while working. If you are lying down under the sink, you might want to consider wearing a helmet as well, in case the whole thing collapses.
If you are snaking a drain or using a drill or a mechanical saw or even a hammer, there is a chance that delicate pieces of the pipe can shatter and pose a danger to your eyes. There is also plenty of bacteria inside the pipe fluids which if it gets in your eyes can make them burn for a long time.
Protect your hands and lungs
Your hands will come in contact with plenty of contaminated and germ-laden pipes and fluids. When using a draining machine of any sort, these particles might get released into the air.
As a result, both your hands and lungs are at risk. This risk is even higher if you are sawing or sanding. You do not want to breathe in dust particles. Use a face mask if you have any and make sure you are wearing latex or leather gloves. Under no circumstances, should your gloves touch your face while working. Do not even think of wiping off that sweat.
Read labels and practice tool safety
All your tools, chemicals, and machines will usually come with labels. It’s best to read those labels and instructions as thoroughly as possible. Maybe watch a couple of Youtube videos about them.
Tools such as drill bits are notorious for getting stuck while the drill is still turning. To prevent this, make sure you are using the right drill for the job. If you plan on drilling a huge hole in your pipe, the standard budget drill won’t do.
If you are using a soldering torch or using heat on pipes, again use a mask and use a heat shield so that nearby combustible materials don’t get set on fire. Reading the instructions and labels should help you prepare in case of an emergency.
Know when to bite the bullet
Some problems are too big to handle yourself. If an under-experienced hand tries to fix them, you might make the problem even worse, and it ends up being more expensive than before. For example, if there’s a leak in the wall, and you drill into it and hit some electrical wiring, not only will you lose power in your house, you may also electrocute yourself.
The aforementioned soldering techniques should also ideally be done by professionals. Do know when to admit defeat and call in the cavalry. If you are in Caldwell, California, a good choice would be to call proffesionals and have them handle the job.
Do not try this on a Sunday or a public holiday
I know it’s your off day and you would like nothing more than solving a household problem with a DIY approach. However, if it’s a Sunday and things go wrong, you won’t be able to go to the hardware store and find replacements,
You’ll have to end up paying for an emergency visit from a plumber which will be far more expensive and bothersome.
Do not use drain cleaners just like that
Drain cleaners are full of corrosive chemicals, and excessive use of them will wreak havoc on your plumbing, not to mention the environment.
If it’s a clogged or choked drain, which really is the most common plumbing problem, start with a plunger. If that doesn’t work, get hold of what’s known as a plumbers snake to unclog the drain.
Do not forget which piece connects to what
A common problem which people face after disassembling a faucet or shower is that they forget how they were assembled in the first place.
The easiest way to avoid this mistake is to take photos before you start taking things out of their place. In fact, it’s always a good idea to take pictures before you disassemble something.
Do not ignore the smell of gas
If you are cutting blindly, the worst thing you can do is hit a gas pipe. If you ignore the smell of gas and start up your soldering torch to weld a pipe together, that could well be the last thing you ever try to do.
If you so much as even suspect a gas leak, stop what you are doing immediately, leave the house and call your gas company. Do not go around trying to find the leak yourself.
Fixing your household problems yourself can seem like a fun and cost-effective way to spend your day. However, when it comes to plumbing, you do run the risk of making the problem far worse than it already was.
Hence, if you think the job is simple enough, go ahead and give it a try yourself. Otherwise, just call and let the plumbers do their job.