How DIY mistakes can cost you more money

How to Avoid DIY Mistakes

In the age of YouTube tutorials and online forums, the allure of do-it-yourself (DIY) projects is stronger than ever. From home renovations to simple repairs, many homeowners are eager to roll up their sleeves and tackle tasks around the house themselves. However, when it comes to plumbing, the decision to DIY can sometimes lead to unexpected expenses and headaches.

As a seasoned plumber with 23 years of experience, I’ve witnessed firsthand the aftermath of DIY attempts gone wrong, and the costs can often outweigh the savings.

A customer of mine tried to save a couple hundred bucks by replacing his own Shower Cartridge, and had to pay several hundreds more because of the DIY attempt ?


Open behind the shower wall and cut out old shower valve

Customer DIY fail shower cartridge cut shower plumbing old

Prepare for Installation 

Prepare for installation for new shower tap


Installed Shower tapNew Shower Faucet housing

Installed- Job is Done

Changed Shower handle

What happened?

The customer tried to remove the shower cartridge without the proper tools or knowledge. He ended up breaking the cartridge and had to get a whole new body and new cartridge this cost him more in time and labor then if I originally fitted the cartage by a licensed plumber 


The reason the customer did  not have the right cartridge tool and ended up breaking the piece needing to replace the entire value

When should I change my shower cartridge?

  1. Reduced water flow: If your shower suddenly has lower water pressure than usual, it could indicate a problem with the cartridge.
  2. Temperature fluctuations: If your shower water temperature fluctuates unexpectedly, it may be a sign that the cartridge is failing to regulate the water properly.
  3. Leaks: Any visible leaks around your shower handle or spout could be a sign that the cartridge is worn out or damaged.
  4. Difficulty adjusting temperature or water flow: If you find it increasingly difficult to adjust the temperature or water flow in your shower, the cartridge may be the culprit.
  5. Visible damage: Cracks, gouges, or other visible damage to the cartridge are clear indicators that it needs to be replaced.

If your shower handle or water temperature isn’t working correctly, it could be due to mineral buildup blocking the cartridge. To check, you’ll need to remove and inspect the cartridge. If you see mineral deposits, soak it in warm vinegar for an hour and scrub with an old toothbrush to remove them. If there are cracks or damage, it’s best to replace the cartridge.

In an era where DIY solutions are at our fingertips, it’s tempting to tackle plumbing issues on your own. However, as a seasoned plumber, I’ve seen the fallout from DIY attempts gone awry. Take, for instance, a customer who attempted to replace their own shower cartridge to save a few bucks. What started as a simple task turned into a costly ordeal when the cartridge broke, necessitating a complete replacement.

When Not to DIY Plumbing

  1. Complex Issues: Plumbing systems can be intricate, with hidden complexities that may not be apparent to an untrained eye. Attempting to fix complex issues, such as sewer line blockages or major pipe leaks, without the necessary expertise can exacerbate the problem and result in costly damage.
  2. Safety Concerns: Plumbing work often involves working with pressurized water, hazardous chemicals, and potentially harmful gases like natural gas or sewer gases. Improper handling of these substances can pose serious health and safety risks to both you and your family. Professional plumbers are trained to prioritize safety and adhere to industry regulations to mitigate these risks.
  3. Code Compliance: Plumbing repairs and installations must comply with local building codes and regulations to ensure safety and legality. DIY attempts may inadvertently violate these codes, leading to fines, failed inspections, and additional expenses to rectify the non-compliant work. Licensed plumbers have a thorough understanding of building codes and ensure that all work meets regulatory standards.
  4. Risk of Damage: Mishandling plumbing fixtures or using incorrect tools and materials can cause extensive damage to your home’s plumbing system and infrastructure. Water leaks, pipe bursts, and property damage resulting from DIY errors can far outweigh the initial cost savings and require costly repairs by a professional plumber.

The Benefits of Hiring a Licensed and Insured Plumber

  1. Expertise and Experience: Licensed plumbers undergo rigorous training and apprenticeship programs to acquire the necessary skills and expertise to handle a wide range of plumbing issues effectively. Their experience allows them to accurately diagnose problems, recommend appropriate solutions, and execute repairs efficiently.
  2. Quality Workmanship: Licensed plumbers are held to high standards of workmanship and professionalism. They use industry-best practices, quality materials, and state-of-the-art equipment to ensure durable, long-lasting repairs that withstand the test of time.
  3. Legal Protection: Hiring a licensed and insured plumber provides legal protection for both you and your property. In the event of accidents, property damage, or incomplete work, licensed plumbers carry liability insurance to cover any damages or losses, giving you peace of mind and financial security.
  4. Time and Cost Savings: While DIY plumbing may seem cost-effective initially, it often leads to costly mistakes and repeated repairs. Hiring a professional plumber eliminates the guesswork and ensures that the job is done right the first time, saving you time, money, and the hassle of dealing with ongoing plumbing issues.

List of jobs you should not DIY

  1. Main Sewer Line Repair: Repairing or replacing the main sewer line requires specialized equipment and expertise to access and work within underground pipes safely.
  2. Water Heater Installation or Repair: Water heater installations involve electrical connections and potentially hazardous gas lines. Improper installation or repairs can lead to water damage, gas leaks, or electrical hazards.
  3. Leaking Pipes in Walls or Ceilings: Fixing leaking pipes hidden within walls or ceilings requires cutting into drywall or plaster, which can be complex and lead to further damage if not done correctly.
  4. Backflow Prevention Device Installation or Testing: Backflow prevention devices prevent contaminated water from flowing back into the main water supply. Installing or testing these devices requires specific training and certification.
  5. Water Softener Installation: Installing a water softener involves plumbing connections and adjustments to water pressure, which can affect the entire plumbing system if done incorrectly.
  6. Sump Pump Installation or Repair: Sump pumps are essential for preventing basement flooding. Installing or repairing a sump pump requires knowledge of drainage systems and electrical connections.
  7. Bathroom or Kitchen Remodeling: Remodeling projects involving plumbing, such as installing new fixtures or rerouting pipes, require careful planning and expertise to ensure proper functionality and compliance with building codes.
  8. Hydronic Heating System Installation or Repair: Hydronic heating systems use water to heat buildings and require specialized knowledge of boiler systems and piping configurations.
  9. Tree Root Removal from Sewer Lines: Removing tree roots from sewer lines requires specialized equipment and expertise to clear blockages without damaging pipes or causing further issues.
  10. Plumbing Inspections for Home Purchase: Inspecting plumbing systems before purchasing a home should be done by a licensed plumber to identify potential issues and ensure the plumbing is up to code.

Remember, when it comes to plumbing, investing in professional expertise can save you from costly mistakes and ensure the integrity of your home’s plumbing system.

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