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Epic Plumbing Fails are sometimes unavoidable because you are unaware of prior plumbing work done on your home or commercial space before your purchase or lease date.  Sometimes, plumbing fails are caused by taking the advice of friends, family, or online “how-to” videos.  Worst of all are epic plumbing fails caused by the incorrect application or uses of plumbing products or fixtures in the real world – whether by a property owner or a company – which causes health concerns or safety issues, faulty installation, or materials used.

  1. “I hired a guy my friend recommended.”
    Hiring anyone in WA State to perform plumbing services or new installation services (which includes gas line work) means the person you hire must have the correct level of WA State plumbing license for the work they are performing. There are commercial journeyman plumbers, residential service plumbers, and plumber trainees, all with varying degrees of training and requirements.  The Epic Plumbing “FAIL” is hiring a person who is not properly licensed to perform plumbing work on your home.
  2. “I don’t need a permit.”
    Do I need a permit or not? There are many variables with no simple answer.  What municipality are you located in? What kind of work are you doing?  Are you replacing existing fixtures, or are you adding more?  Is this a repair, replacement, or addition?  Are you changing the use from residential to commercial?  Does my Owner’s Association require the work be permitted?  Does my Homeowner’s Insurance require this certain work be permitted?  The plumbing “FAIL” moment is not knowing when a permit is required.
  3. “I bought this great faucet from “online retailer” or “Big Box store” for a steal of a deal.”


    Another Epic Plumbing Fail using dangerous equipment containing contaminants.

    Credit: StarCraft Reviews, StarCraft Media

    Which of these Chinese-made fau­cets does not harbor harmful amounts of lead, mercury, arsenic, or cadmium? You can’t tell by looking at the pictures. The fau­cets need to be extensively tested to find out, then certified free of these hazardous materials. The Pfister Port Haven GT31-TDD kitchen faucet on the left is certified lead-free and drinking water safe. The generic Chinese-made kitchen faucet on the right has not been certified and may contain high amounts of lead and other dangerous substances allowed in fau­cets by the Chinese government

    How do I know what faucet to choose? Which water heater is “right” for me?  Which toilet will not only flush but flush better and clog less?  Selecting plumbing fixtures is not only about ‘how will it look?’ You need to consider the quality of materials used to manufacture the fixture, the warranty support by the manufacturer, the compliance with local and national plumbing codes for the intended use, and additional plumbing work which may be required to install that fixture properly.  An experienced plumber can provide you with information about capacity usage, technical details, and requirements, so you can begin looking at the options which will work best in your situation.  Plumbing “FAIL” moment is when that ‘great deal’ faucet ends up leaching metals into your coffee pot, or you just don’t have enough hot water to run the dishwasher and take a shower at the same time.

  4. “I installed my drain, and I am having all kinds of bad smells. The sink just doesn’t drain right.”
    Plumbing is a skilled trade, and one of the key features in a plumber’s mental toolbox is applying the knowledge of hydraulics to integrate new plumbing needs into your existing plumbing system. Code requirements, the proper level of drain installation, suitable trap design, adequate venting for that drain, and use of correct materials must be considered to prevent a “FAIL” moment.
  5. “I can’t figure out why there is a rattling noise from inside the wall whenever the shower is running.”
    In plumbing, you can’t see the intricate and precise network of pipes and vents running behind your walls, under your floors, or inside your ceilings. Also, when you buy a home or move into a commercial space, you have no idea of the amount or quality of renovations and repairs done before your occupation of the space.  The plumbing “FAIL” moment is finding the builder or prior owner had plumbing work done, but the plumbing was not correctly supported or braced to prevent vibration.
  6. Image of using the wrong type of tape for your plumbing“I just used some kind of nationally advertised tape product/spray products to seal up a leak in my water supply line under my sink, and now the water tastes funny.”
    At times, understanding what the advertiser says about a product and how that translates to actual safe water requirements can be murky. Many ‘quick fix’ products are not designed to be used with potable water – they contain chemicals that can make you sick.  Their labels may say things like ‘not to be used with pressurized lines or high temp situations,’ which is pretty vague when you are looking at your home’s plumbing system.  Also, getting the residual gunk off, when your real repair is performed can be impossible.  The plumbing “FAIL” moment is not realizing that chemicals used in quick fix tapes and sealants must meet plumbing codes for safety.
  7. “I tightened that nut really tight on the new supply line for my toilet, but it is still leaking.”
    Over-tightening plumbing connections can cause just as many leaks as not tightening enough. Also, the incorrect use of plumber’s tape or plumber’s putty can create issues when over-applied, or using the wrong product, in the wrong application.  The plumbing “FAIL” moment is seeing the delicate threads on fittings either being gummed up from too much putty or tape, stripped, or cross-threaded.
  8. Picture of a sink courtesy of Stollwerck Plumbing“All I put in the sink to clear the clog was vinegar and baking soda, and then I used a plunger to push it through. Now I see a big puddle under my sink.”
    While plungers work well in your toilet, they should not be used to move clogs in your sink lines. A toilet’s drain is engineered to handle the water pressure created when a plunger pushes soft clogs through its trap.  Your sink drainpipes and fittings are not designed to withstand any kind of pressure created by a plunger.  You can fill your sink with hot water and see if gravity and hot water will move the clog, but if that doesn’t work, it’s time to call a plumber for a drain cleaning with a mechanical augur. The plumbing “FAIL” moment is realizing you burst your sink drain.
  9. “That faucet is only dripping a little bit, not reliable at all.”
    Slow drips and leaks can really add Ewing from a water efficiency standpoint (why waste good clean water?), and financial stndpoint (a faucet leaking at one drip per second can add up to 250 gallons per month!), a dripping faucet is nothing to be ignored. The Plumbing “FAIL” is not promptly addressing the little things to prevent big water bills and waste water.
  10. “I just don’t know who to call.”
    Getting to know local tradespersons is essential when you need professional, licensed, bonded, and insured help with mechanical issues in and around your home. Finding two or three companies in each trade (plumbing, electrical, carpentry, roofing, etc.) can save you time, and stress, when faced with an emergency situation.  In general, word-of-mouth referrals are the best, followed by recommendations by companies who use other companies to perform work on their projects. Plumbing “FAIL,” in this case, is making sure your tradesperson contacts list is up to date with people you can rely on.

Stollwerck Plumbing & Sewer is local, licensed, bonded and insured, to help with all your plumbing and sewer needs –  give us a call when you need a hand!  (425) 374-3909