Do your 2022 New Year’s goals include some home upgrades? Maybe a full remodel or just a quick makeover? If so, you’re not alone. With limited rental properties and rising home prices, many families are choosing to remodel their current homes instead of moving to new ones. In fact, Americans are expected to spend $465 billion on home upgrades in 2022.
And the most common areas to renovate? Kitchens and baths. That means most projects will include some amount of plumbing work. But whatever you’re planning, if plumbing is involved, be sure to avoid these common pitfalls.
Mixing Up the Pipes
When working on the pipes make sure you understand the purpose of each one. In particular, differentiate black water pipes and grey water pipes. The black water pipes carry sewage from toilets while the grey water pipes drain from sinks, showers, and washers. It’s clearly important not to mix these up.
Getting the Wrong Measurements
When remodeling kitchens or baths, it’s incredibly important to get the measurements exact. There’s not a lot of wiggle room for mistakes. With inaccurate numbers, you could end up with tubs that don’t fit the space, slanted countertops, or crooked tiles. And don’t try to cram improperly sized pipes into the existing configuration; it will stress the system and encourage leaks.
Underestimating the Work
Whatever your plans, you’ll most likely encounter unpleasant surprises. Most jobs are more complicated and time-consuming than you expect.
For example, according to the North Texas Municipal Water District, the water in our area is moderately hard, which can cause some corrosion inside pipes. In some cases, the threads joining sections are frozen tight from the corrosion, so you end up having to replace the whole pipe run even if you weren’t planning to. Galvanized pipes are particularly susceptible.
Other hidden hazards may be waiting for you as well. If your house contains polybutylene pipe, the material is banned and would need to be replaced to comply with code. Or if the shower pan has been quietly leaking, the floor and subfloor below may be rotting. You’ll have to restore it before putting a new shower in.
Taking on More Than You Can Handle
Do-it-yourself projects are a lot of fun, but if you’re new to the game, don’t wing it when it comes to crucial systems like plumbing. Plumbing tasks might seem simple, but some, like soldering copper pipes, require training and experience to complete properly. If you’re out of your depth, all that hard work could result in leaks, damage, and costly repairs. It’s wiser to call in professional help.
Neglecting to Slope the Shower Floor
A shower floor seems flat, but it slopes slightly so the water drains. If you’ve never installed a shower before, it’s easy to get the slope wrong and end up with a permanent puddle around the drain. A shower floor should decline a ½ inch per foot toward the drain. For a 3-foot by 3-foot stall, that’s a drop of 1½ inches from wall to drain.
Providing Insufficient Venting
In any plumbing system, vent pipes leading up and out of the house ensure water stays in traps under sinks and toilets to keep sewage gasses from escaping into living areas. Any changes to piping might prevent the vents from operating properly. Make sure you install pipes according to manufacturer specifications so the venting continues to work as designed.
Laying One Pipe Over Another
If you’re adding new pipes as part of the remodel, make sure you don’t end up with one pipe sitting on top of another. As water moves through them, pipes will vibrate and rub against anything they touch. Two pieces scraping against each other over time will wear down the pipe wall, opening the way for nasty leaks.
Applying Teflon Tape in the Wrong Direction
You’re probably familiar with the Teflon tape used on pipe joins. You wrap it around the threads of the male pipe end, and it helps keep the join tight. However, it must always be wrapped clockwise. If you wrap it counterclockwise then screw on the new piece of pipe clockwise, the new pipe will unwrap the Teflon tape leaving a big mess and defeating its purpose.
When adding a fitting to a pipe, you may be tempted to get it as tight as possible, but most fittings weren’t designed for the tightest possible connection. When adding one pipe piece to another, measure the interior threads on the female section and only screw it on to the male section as far as those threads go. In other words, if the interior threads are ½ inch deep, screw the fitting on as far as ½ inch but no further. You may see some unused threads on the male section, but that’s ok. Overtightened pipes can damage the fittings and even cause leaks.
Connecting Copper Pipes Directly to Steel
You may need to connect a copper pipe to a steel one, but don’t just screw them together. When copper and steel contact each other directly, they react and corrode. Instead use a spacer made of plastic and brass, called a di-electric union, that keeps the two metals from touching and avoids future corrosion leaks.
Failing to Comply With Codes
Before making any changes, check with your city or county government to understand the plumbing codes you’ll need to follow. Take out any permits required and schedule inspections. Unless you have a lot of experience, it’s easy to add or change plumbing that looks perfectly fine but may cause problems with sewage drains, venting, or water pressure.
Forgetting to Call Professionals When Needed
Home renovations can turn into much bigger projects than you expected, and that’s when a pro can help out. If you’re not sure about how to handle some parts of your remodel, save money, time, and your peace of mind by calling in experienced plumbers.
At Horizon Plumbing, we’re happy to set up a free consultation. Whether you’re considering a big makeover or some small improvements, we’re here to help your remodel plans succeed.
Click here to schedule a free consultation with Horizon Plumbing today.