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The 5 common mistakes of DIY plumbers

The first thing a journeyman plumber learns is that complications lurk behind even simplest of jobs. Those inclined to make the professional ranks and earn a living as a plumber quickly adopt the typical reserved approach. A seasoned plumber has sentences like "this whole pipe run ideally needs replacing" or "this boiler may be beyond economical repair" dialed in. The lesson learned through many frustrations, optimistic quotations, and overtime hours is it is best to ignore the old adage of "if it aint broke" and simply fix all that you know will cause issues down the line.

DIY plumbers, have a go enthusiasts or simply practical and pragmatic homeowners wishing to save the cost of a professional plumbers will often encounter these same frustrations. However either due to having another full time job and already being good at something else (come on how many things can one person be good at?) or knowing your work wont be scrutinized (no one to judge that drain pipe leak you fixed with superglue) another misjudgment is made. Now the work has not only taken three times longer than expected, it isn't actually completely fixed either.

And in this state we find the weird and wonderful examples of plumbing work produced by plumbers short on time, short on patience and at the time short tempered (hopefully no long lasting scars resulted).

1. The patch up job

The patch up job is the top DIY sin on this list because most patch up products which promise miracle fixes of leaks are aimed at people completely unfamiliar with plumbing (probably for the same reason that homeopathic medicine isn't being sold to doctors). It is much easier to convince an uninitiated person into exchanging their money for a product that hasn't withstood rigorous testing.

Good product right? For the one in three customers who left a review under 3 stars I bet the product did not work properly. Plumbing fixes aren't like nail varnish or a vitamin shakes. A leak is either fixed or not, there is no in-between state.

2. "Can I use silicone like that?"

Another miracle product that promises an end to all plumbing woes is the humble tube of silicone sealant. In the same way as we accept that 2+2 = 4 in many novice's minds leak + silicone = permanent leak repair.

When in doubt slap on some silicone. This sink waste has certainly been put together with forethought. The extra layers of clear and white silicone however did not withstand the test of time, unsurprisingly.

3. Drain unblocking

This is probably one of the most common plumbing problems and one we attend to very frequently. A blocked drain can also be a simple job to solve without intervention from a professional. There are plethora of products on the market promising you to save this cost, however due to health and safety reasons the stronger drain unblocking products will be hard to find over the counter. The diluted products you are left with are often only good for very light blockages.

A trusty plunger is a must for any household, but it is often found neglected or not found at all in favor of heavily marketed drain unblocking liquids. With a good technique a plunger will almost certainly deliver better drain unblocking results be it in the bathroom or the kitchen. A full sized plunger can also be picked up for less than a single bottle of an unblocker. For a mere £3.65 this plunger from Wickes ( stocked Anerley / Crystal Palace ) can deliver a lifetime of service and saving hundreds of pounds on professional unblocking services. If we give this Wickes plunger the same review treatment we find that only 1 in 4 customers left a score of 3 or below - so a pretty convincing and reliable drain unblocking product worthy of any household.

4. The plumbing "gurus" on YouTube

YouTube plumbing and DIY channels certainly have their merits. However what they also have in common is the way the content is presented which has a single aim of drawing you in to click and check it out. This is often referred to as "clickbait" with video titles such as "how to fix a running toilet in 5 seconds" or "easily fix leaks in minutes" attracting tens of thousands of views.

And some jobs will be easy, don't get me wrong I have come across leaks that do take minutes to fix and toilets that are unblocked after a second or two of plunging. However the DIYer will not glean much by watching an easy repair of a toilet in some workshop. There isn't a way to prepare for every eventuality in a scope of a single video but a truthful headline and a warning that any repairs can result in damage to your property if not carried out correctly will go a long way.

An unblocking video of a toilet that isn't connected to any drainage has 3 million views (admittedly aimed at American audience).

5. Are you already covered?

To finish off the list we have my personal favorite. Call it an "ouch" or a "duhh" moment if you like but the feeling of knowing this issue at hand can or could have been covered at no cost to yourself can either come as a great relief or a bit of an annoyance. In my experience it is all too easy to forget that the boiler that isn't working is actually still under warranty, or the bathroom that is leaking has been installed recently and should be covered by the installer.

There are countless covers, insurances and bundles to take care of your bust pipes, leaks, blocked toilets. In the least a house insurance which is mandatory for most will cover damage caused by water which can actually clear the majority of your workload or help with the plumber's invoice. The problem is none of these things jump out at you when you need them the most and in some cases only appear way down the line after the damage to your wallet has already been done.

It is a matter of course for all of us plumbers and engineers at FITnFIX to ascertain customer's options and help them make the most sensible and practical decision before we get stuck in.

I hope you've enjoyed reading another rare entry to this blog.

For more advice or anything plumbing related do not hesitate to get in touch directly via email or whatsapp - info on our Contact page


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