DIY plumbing projects can be fun and challenging, and provide you with a sense of accomplishment in a job well done. They can also be frustrating, time consuming, and potentially dangerous. Follow these simple guidelines to ensure your next do-it-yourself project goes as smoothly and safely as possible.
- Know what you're getting into: do the research, watch videos, read tutorials, and get the right tools. Recognize your limits; don't overestimate your abilities.
- If possible, practice things like soldering and PVC-gluing before you actually need to do them. Familiarize yourself with any machines and tools you'll be using beforehand - you don't want your introduction to come during an emergency situation!
- Read any and all literature for the tools, machines, and chemicals you'll be using. It might be boring, but it could save a life (including yours).
- Research any applicable permits/codes beforehand: they exist for a reason (the safety of your home, neighborhood plumbing system, and the community at large), so don't try to get out of it - fines or worse could result.
- Have a helper on-hand, or a capable adult nearby in case anything goes wrong - don't work alone! Keep a phone charged and accessible, with relevant emergency numbers already entered should more help be needed.
- Avoid doing any work involving gas - it's just too risky for the typical DIYer. If you smell gas during your work, stop immediately, shut off the home's supply, and call the gas company's emergency number.
- Shut off the water supply before starting repairs - leaving it on could result in flooding, or create a potential shock hazard. Likewise, if an electrical source is near the repair area, shut off the power to that area.
- Footwear: Wear rubber-soled, non-slip work boots or shoes. These will help protect against slips and falls, and can reduce the severity of electric shocks.
- Hand Protection: Always use thick, waterproof work gloves to keep your hands protected and dry. With machines like drain cleaners, use specially designed gloves that offer extra protection with steel staples inside (it's like chainmail for your hands!)
- Eye Protection: Goggles or safety glasses with side shields can help prevent minor nuisances (getting splashed in the face with water) as well as major health risks (getting splashed in the face with sewage).
- Respiratory Safety: Always use a safety mask or respirator when dealing with chemicals, as well as sewer drains (which can put out dangerous fumes). If you're going under the house or into the attic, a mask/respirator will help protect you from airborne mold and bacteria, as well as insulation material.
- Avoid using harsh chemicals whenever possible, especially when drain cleaning. They rarely solve the problem, can damage pipes, and create a health hazard for anyone accessing the pipes. And if you end up needing to rent a drain-cleaning machine, you could be charged an extra fee if the cable comes into contact with certain chemicals. With drains, clog prevention and good maintenance is always best.
- Exercise caution when soldering! It's easy to start a fire in close quarters, surrounded by wood or insulation. Use a fire-resistant cloth or a piece of sheet metal to shield the surrounding area from sparks and heat.
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