10 DIY Plumbing Mistakes and How to Fix Them (+Tips & Tricks)

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What’s up guys and welcome back to another article/video. In this article, I’ll show you 10 plumbing mistakes that beginners make and how they could be avoided.

Step 1: Bad Slope (drain Pipes)

A proper slope is a must when doing any type of drain. If it’s sloped right, it’ll allow for 2 things, the first is for the waste to flow adequately in a particular direction and secondly, not to siphon out a ptrap. If a nearby toilet flushes with no vent and an improper slope, it will create a negative pressure in the pipes and siphon out a ptrap close by, allowing for sewer gases to enter the house. For this not to happen, slop your pipe accordingly and make sure you have proper venting nearby.

Step 2: No Water Hammer Arrestors

Not installing water hammer arrestors. Before these appeared, we’d install a tee with an 18” section of pipe that would be filled with air upon filling of the system and cushion any hammering inside the pipes, but 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 arrestors like these , they are most often installed near fast valve closing appliances such as a toilet or washing machine.

Step 3: Reusing Flexible Hoses (speedways)

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 5 years and should be replaced soon after. To know if yours are still good, visually inspect them, if there are any frays or leaks, it’s a good sign it needs replacement.

Step 4: Lead Solder Is Bad!

Using 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. Before the 19th century, lead’s toxicity wasn’t recognized and was used for many things, including soldering. Many homes built before the 1980’s 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, always check your solder before to make sure you are using the correct one if doing a repair.

Step 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 pipe’s 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.

Step 6: Not Cleaning Copper Fittings Properly

Improper cleaning of pipes and fittings. When soldering, cleanliness is crucial to getting a leak free joint. A store bought copper pipe has oxidation on it due to in being in contact with the air and needs to be properly cleaned before soldering. 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 like this, or cut the tip and use it in your drill to accelerate the process. To properly clean a pipe, use an abrasive material such as this and scrub the pipe thoroughly until it's nice an shiny. Also, make sure the flux you are 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.

Step 7: Frozen Pipes = Lots of Damage!

Not isolating your exterior hydrants in winter. An exterior hydrant like this is in contact with the outside temperature and if not isolated 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. These use a rod type system and close the water inside the house where it’s a lot hotter and less likely to freeze. If you want to learn how to install one, go check out my “how to” video on how to properly swap your old hydrant with a non-freezing one like this.

Step 8: Swinging Pipes

Not hanging pipes correctly. This could sometimes be overlooked but mustn’t for copper water lines. Not hanging your pipes properly could eventually weaken them, and cause them to fail at a joint for example, resulting in water damage. Think of it like metal wire, if bent a couple of times, it’ll just break off. To make sure this doesn’t happen, always add a hanger at every 6’ or so for ½” and ¾”copper, this way, you are sure to never have any problems.

Step 9: Tape Then Dope, Not Dope Then Tape

Applying pipe dope, 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 wanna 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.

Step 10: Cross-threading

Stripping or cross-threading a pipe or fitting. This is a common mistake that a lot of beginners and DIYers make that can easily be avoided. A crossed-thread is easy to diagnose, it’ll be a lot harder than usual to tighten, and it’ll most likely leak and won’t go in straight as 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 your tightening it. For this not to happen, always start off by hand and make sure it screws in smoothly before using a tool to finalize the tightening process. A quick tip here is to start off in a counter-clockwise direction to align the threads, you’ll see it go into place which means your good to go.

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    12 Discussions

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    El Cuervo

    Tip 5 days ago

    Excelentes Consejos!!!

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    OutofPatience

    5 days ago

    Needing to plumb a bath on my cabin, so this is timely and really helpful...thanks so much!

    1 reply
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    tercero

    6 days ago

    OH geez. I'm glad you brought up those flexible lines you find on toilets.

    For anyone reading this who might have purchased a low flow, dual flush toilet at Costco (North America) in the past 15 years. Go check the lines that were included with the toilet. Costco has sent out replacement over the past couple of years, because they rupture.

    I came home last spring to find my basement flooded, my new furnace destroyed and water damage from a ruptured line that had just popped on its own from the second story bathroom.

    12 thousand dollars damage. From a bad line.

    Go and check those lines now.

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    Franks Instructables

    Question 9 days ago on Step 10

    You mentioned that some tubing cutters have a de burring tool on them. Perhaps you could add another step showing what that attachment looks like and how to use it.

    1 answer