A lot of people (including a few landlords I know) hire unlicensed plumbers and handymen to do plumbing work that really should be done by professionals. People do this for the obvious reason – to save money. Licensed, insured plumbers are expensive. I know mine is! However, here is what happens when amateur plumbers fix things. Many of the things pictured below are actually very common plumbing mistakes.
1. Attaching a grounding wire to a plastic pipe. Although this plumber used the right clamps and wire, apparently he didn’t know that plastic pipe does not conduct electricity. I have seen this a number of times. I have also a pipe with a grounding wire clamped onto it that was connected to another section of that same pipe. I am often surprised at the number of people who do not seem to understand the most basic principle of electrical wiring – that electricity flows though a wire. If there is no place for the electricity to go, it can’t just pile up inside the wire.
2. Vent pipes that go down and then up. This is actually very common. It can be dangerous.
3. Leaving in place old worn-out plumbing fixtures. People do this to save money on hauling and dump fees. This guy left the old water heater in place and just attached a new water heater to it.
4. Using inappropriate materials to make plumbing connections. I am very suspicious of flexible drain pipes, even when they are done properly and with the right materials.
5. Not thinking about where you are placing things in a bathroom. Look at where the toilet paper holder is mounted. How would you use it? I have also seen toilets placed in a bathroom in a way that prevents the door from opening or closing.
6. Bad judgment by tenants. This isn’t the plumber’s fault. The tenants in this apartment left candles on a plastic toilet tank unattended. Something like this once happened to me. A group of U.C. college students rented the house next door to me. They placed a bunch of candles on the top of the wall furnace in their living room. Then they turned on the furnace. The candles melted, the wax flowed into the hot furnace, the wax erupted into a ball of fire, and that set the living room on fire. After the fire was out, one of the tenants said to me: “There is something wrong with your furnace.” Fortunately for them, I never yell at people, so I didn’t tell them what I thought of that explanation.