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45 DIY Disasters That Turned Out Hilarious

It wasn’t funny at the time, but now these homeowners can laugh at their DIY disasters. And so can we!

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Free FacialFamily Handyman

Free Facial

Just days before Hurricane Sandy was to hit  New Jersey, I was helping my husband install a "water jet sump pump backup system" in my parents' basement. In the event of a power outage, it works off the water pressure of the house. My husband asked me to hold on to the PVC pipe so he could cut out a piece with his reciprocating saw. While I held it, he made the first cut. When  he made the second cut, nasty brown water started gushing out of the pipe and  hit me full in the face. Being the dutiful wife, I held on tight! It took him a few seconds to realize what was happening. He had forgotten to unplug the pump. After pulling the plug, he looked at me with a worried expression, but I began laughing hysterically. I was soaked with that disgusting water from head to toe. At least the project turned out as planned— after Sandy, they had no water in their basement. — Jill Gallery. Plus: Check out these insanely smart home improvement hacks you'll wish you knew sooner.

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This side up

This side up

When we moved into our new house, one of the first things on the list was to install a cat door between rooms so our cat could do its business. I removed the door, set it on sawhorses and marked the opening with the cat-door template. After I made a remarkable splinter-free cut, something didn't look right. On further inspection, I realized that I'd cut the opening at the top of the door. The cat’s name is Magic, but ... — Stephen M. Gray

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Attention-Getting Dryer

Attention-Getting Dryer

I was installing a new, quieter dryer in a client’s high-end house. The power cord was unattached and had exposed connectors at one end. Like an idiot, I pushed the plug into the 240-volt outlet to see if the prongs fit. Well, the connectors at the other end were all touching one another and—WHAM! The loose ends shorted out and knocked me clear over. This in turn set off the house alarm system, alerted the police and set every dog in the neighborhood barking. It’s bad enough to goof—it’s far worse to have to explain your screwup to your client and your boss, a crowd of curious onlookers and the police. — Ben Rall

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Commode Flambeau

Commode Flambeau

A part from my young son's plastic potty had somehow gotten stuck in the toilet trap. I couldn't snake it out, nor could the plumber, who left saying, 'Buy a new toilet.' But I had a brilliant idea: I'd burn it out! I pulled the toilet and dragged it outside. There I poured charcoal lighter fluid down the trap and lit it up. Standing back, I basked in the glory of the geyser flames and my phenomenal ingenuity... until the bang. The commode literally cracked from the heat. I bought a new toilet. Learn how to replace a toilet yourself.

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Bungee Shrub

Bungee Shrub

The shrubs along the front of our house were getting overgrown and needed a good pruning. After a couple of hours of aggressive shearing, the shrubs looked worse than ever, so I decided to pull them out and get new ones. After digging around the trunks to free the roots, I tied a heavy rope to the base of one of the shrubs and fastened the other end of the rope to the back of my 4x4 pickup. I slowly drove the pickup forward to tighten the rope and then accelerated quickly, hoping to jerk the bush free of the soil. Well, it worked. What I didn't expect was the rubber-band effect of the nylon rope. It catapulted the bush right through the back window of my truck. Sitting in the cab with glass strewn all over the interior, I regretfully remembered that my dad always used a heavy chain for this task! Should've followed our how-to guide for removing shrubs!

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Bathroom Bust-Out

Bathroom Bust-Out

I take my painting prep very seriously. So before painting the bathroom door, I took off the door handle rather than taping around it. But when I closed the door and heard the lock click, I realized I had left the latch in the door. 'No need to panic,' I thought to myself. I fit the handle back into the door—but the latch wouldn't catch. I then tried to manually pull back the latch—but it wouldn't budge. Then I used my nail punch and hammer to remove the hinges—a sure bet—but the door was so tight in the frame I couldn't budge it. There I was, trapped in my own bathroom. I considered escaping through the window, but given the 9 in. of snow outside, my stocking feet and no key to get back into the house, I decided against it. Mild panic fueled a couple of karate kicks that split that hollow-core door into splinters. I think I'll paint the new door before I hang it. Check out our expert tips for painting doors.

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The Physics of PlumbingFamily Handyman

The Physics of Plumbing

I was replacing our shower fixture, and I couldn't budge the large brass nut that was holding the two-way mixing valve in place. Using my expert knowledge of physics, I came up with the perfect solution. I packed the valve in ice to make it shrink in diameter. Then I used my blowtorch on the nut so its diameter would expand, thus freeing it. I was feeling really clever until I noticed the smoke filling the shower. It turns out two studs were on fire and the flames were moving up inside the wall! Have you ever tried to extinguish a blazing fire through a 6-in. access hole? I didn't worry about the physics at that point—I just ran for the fire extinguisher! -Dr. Kris Storm

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Pencil pickpocket

Pencil pickpocket

I constantly misplace pencils. So before starting my last carpentry project, I gathered up several sharpened ones and stuffed them into my back pocket. But within a few minutes, I reached back for a pencil and—with some patting around—realized they were all gone! Surely I was going insane. Then I noticed our dog happily gnawing away and saw a pile of chewed pencil pieces around her. She had been sneaking up behind me while I was bent over and stealing them right out of my pants pocket. She’s a good dog, but not a handyman’s best friend. —Ken Loftus

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Tangled up in Snow

Tangled up in Snow

Last fall I got a brand-new snow blower and couldn't wait for it to snow. When the white stuff finally arrived, I started up the snow blower and quickly finished my own driveway and walk. So I decided to be neighborly and do the driveway and walk for the nice old lady next door. Everything was fine until I suddenly hit her garden hose and got it royally tangled in my snow blower. I spent an hour picking out stuck bits and pieces of the hose. Later that evening, the phone rang and the lady next door said her basement was all wet. I discovered that the jarring of the hose had caused a leak inside the house behind the hose bib. I now only snow-blow my own place! We've got 13 snow blowing tips you need to know.

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Hot Closet!

Hot Closet!

After framing in a new closet with metal studs, I was ready to take a break. I had been working around an old electrical panel in our old house. As I sat down on the radiator, I grabbed hold of one of the studs to support myself and was greeted with a powerful shock. Upon investigating, I found that one of my screws had penetrated a wire inside an existing wall and had energized the new metal wall framing. What a wild ride 120 volts gives you! How lucky I wasn't hurt. We've got some breaker box safety tips for you!

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Canine capersFamily Handyman

Canine capers

My friend was having trouble with squirrels invading his attic. The fact that his dog loved to chase squirrels gave him an idea. The next time he heard a squirrel in the attic, he caught his small dog, climbed the ladder, opened the access hole and released the dog. Since his dog doesn’t obey very well, he had attached a long rope to his collar so that he could just reel him in once the intruder had been run off. But as the dog took off after the squirrel, the rope got wrapped around the trusses until the dog was hopelessly tangled. When my friend climbed up into the attic to rescue the dog, he stepped between the trusses, broke through the drywall and landed in the living room. So much for canine pest control. — Kevin Boekhoff

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Electric Cake BatterFamily Handyman

Electric Cake Batter

When I was a teenager, I came home from school to find my mother making a cake. She was using her favorite electric mixer. The double-ended electric cord was plugged into the mixer at one end and into the wall outlet at the other. As she happily mixed away, she inadvertently knocked the cord out of the mixer, and it fell into the cake batter. So she fished it out and, not thinking, licked it off. The live cord shocked her tongue, making her jump about 3 ft. in the air. After the initial shock, she was fine, and now we laugh about it. — Mary-Kay Reno

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Cheap Paint Job

Cheap Paint Job

My friend works in a body shop and moonlights by painting cars in his garage. He offered me a paint job for $200, but only if I did the prep work. I washed my car and dried it with a shop rag before taking it over to his place. The car looked fantastic when he was done. But the paint started peeling off in sheets as I drove home. Apparently my rag had car wax on it and I spread it all over the car. That was $200 down the drain. See DIY car paint repair tips.

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Timber!

Timber!

With a second child on the way, we needed an addition on our house, but first we had to take down a huge maple tree that was in the way. To save money, my husband and his dad decided to cut it down themselves. They devised a plan with ropes to guide the fall as they cut. After about a half hour of chain sawing, I heard a thunderous crash and ran out to see what had happened. The rope trick obviously hadn't worked and the trunk had fallen smack in the middle of the deck (which was not part of the remodeling plan). Thankfully, no one was injured, but we ended up hiring a contractor to remove the old deck and build a new one, which was way more expensive than hiring a tree removal service. Here's how to cut down a tree safely.

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Use Your Head not Your HammerFamily Handyman

Use Your Head not Your Hammer

My husband is a novice handyman with a great heart. So when I asked for a new sink in our upstairs bathroom, he got to work. After two weeks of struggle and leaking pipes, it was done. Whew! But when I turned on the hot water, there was water "hammering." He said he must have loosened a pipe and that it was beating against a stud. He spent the next hour knocking holes in our nice drywall trying to trace the hammering. But he still couldn't find the problem. I then asked him if the hot water valve below the sink was fully open—problem solved. The contractor did a beautiful job of repairing our drywall.... - Mari Nelson

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Moles 1, Homeowner 0Family Handyman

Moles 1, Homeowner 0

Each year the moles arrive and wreck my perfect lawn with their earthworm mining tunnels. I’ve tried all sorts of traps and solutions over the years, and last year I decided to try a different approach. One evening, I stamped down the mole trails and waited with a pitchfork. As soon as I saw a little quiver in the stamped-down trail, I knew a mole was moving and I attacked, plunging the sharp tines into the soil over and over to spear the varmint. I figured I must have speared the critter, but who knows? The next morning I noticed something odd about my lawn irrigation system. The ground was rising and bulging and occasionally sending up an errant spray of water where no sprinkler head was located. Upon closer investigation, I found that even if I hadn’t speared any varmints, I’d done a nice job of perforating the underground water lines. — Kent Stever

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A Bit of A ProblemFamily Handyman

A Bit of A Problem

I was on the couch knitting while my husband was downstairs working on our basement. He was using a 6-ft. flexible drill bit to drill holes through the floor joists in the finished ceiling so he could fish wire through them and install new recessed lights. All of a sudden, I felt the couch vibrate. This went on for about 10 seconds and then stopped. I was totally confused until my husband ran into the room, looked at the couch and in a very quiet voice said, “Oooops, there’s the problem.” I peeked over the side of the couch and saw that the drill bit had come up through the floor, through the wall-to-wall carpeting, through the bottom corner of our leather couch and was sticking out the side. Apparently the drill bit had hit a vent and was driven off course. My husband finished the job and the new lights look great. And so does our new couch. -Charla Schafer

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Hot Enough for Ya?

Hot Enough for Ya?

I was working alone on a large outdoor deck in 100-degree weather. I had to lop off a 3-ft. piece of a rim joist. To envision what happened next, it helps to think about Wile E. Coyote sitting on a limb of a tree and sawing it off! I stood on the rim joist without realizing I was standing on the very piece of wood I intended to cut off. The joist split when I was about two-thirds through it with my circular saw, and I fell with it. Fortunately, I dropped the saw on the way down, and I didn't land on any of the many objects that could have caused serious injury. But I did end up in the hospital with dehydration and sunstroke. Check out some top DIY safety tips.

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Oh, That's What That Wall Is For

Oh, That's What That Wall Is For

Our first house was a two-story frame home. The 12-ft. hallway leading to the dining room seemed to serve no purpose, so we decided to remove the wall and expand the size of the living room by almost 4 ft. After assuring my wife that I could finish the project over a long weekend, I started demoing the lath-and-plaster wall. By bedtime, I had the wall down and most of the debris bagged and stacked. I climbed the stairs to our bedroom, which was directly above the living room, and went to sleep. The following morning I awoke to a bowl-shaped bedroom floor! I stepped gingerly across it, ran down the stairs and discovered that the living room ceiling had sagged 6 in. during the night! Turns out I had removed a load-bearing wall. As we sped to the rental yard to pick up jacks, I sheepishly told my wife that I might need more than three days to finish. Definitely should have read this article first!

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Cold CommodeFamily Handyman

Cold Commode

Last winter, I brought home a new toilet. I stored the box outside on my porch along with the new wax ring, flange bolts and new water line until I got around to installing it a few days later. I mounted the wax ring and set the toilet over the flange, but the toilet would not sit flush against the floor. I tried everything I could think of, including tightening the floor bolts at the base of the toilet until I nearly cracked the toilet base, but the toilet just would not sit flush. I gave up in frustration and went to bed. The next morning, I walked outside to get the paper and saw the empty toilet box sitting on my unheated porch. As I shivered in my bare feet, the explanation suddenly hit me. I ran to the bathroom and sure enough, the toilet was sitting flush against the floor and the bolts were completely loose. Turns out the wax ring had been frozen solid. -Mike Koch

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Doggone bad measuring!Family Handyman

Doggone bad measuring!

I was installing a new ice maker water line. First I measured from the outside wall of the kitchen to the location of the tubing at the back of the refrigerator. Then I went downstairs to the basement and measured from the outside wall to the same spot. I drilled the hole through the floor and went upstairs to admire my handiwork. But the hole wasn’t where I thought it should be. I suddenly remembered that the house floor cantilevered over the foundation, and I had drilled the hole 18 in. in front of the refrigerator. After a bit of a hunt, I finally found the hole in the hardwood floor—directly under the dog’s dish! Without skipping a beat, I cut a piece of 3/8-in. dowel, plugged the hole and slid the dog’s dish over it. I figure no one will be the wiser (as long as we have a dog, anyway). — Laurence Simon

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The Eye of the Beholder

The Eye of the Beholder

I was remodeling my daughter's second-floor bedroom and had all the demo work done. I was ready to start the next phase when I saw daylight coming up through a hole in the floorboard. But that didn't make any sense. How could there be light between the ceiling downstairs and the floor upstairs?

So I got down on my hands and knees and peered through the little hole—and saw an eyeball looking right back at me! I almost had a heart attack right there. When I screwed up enough courage to take a second look, I realized that a piece of broken mirror had lodged itself in a knothole. I'd nearly frightened myself to death by staring at my own eyeball!

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The Ever-Flowing Water HeaterFamily Handyman

The Ever-Flowing Water Heater

When the plumber replaced one of the heating elements in my electric water heater, I watched carefully, knowing that the other element would eventually need replacing too. Sure enough, a year later the other element went. I checked it with an ohmmeter, confirmed my diagnosis and headed to the plumbing supply store. When I returned home, I killed the power supply at the box and at the wall switch. Feeling proud and confident, I dragged the garden hose into the house, connected it to the heater and ran it into the floor drain to empty the heater—just like the plumber had done. Then I sat and waited for the water to stop flowing. After about an hour of a good, steady flow, it occurred to me to SHUT OFF THE WATER SUPPLY! Fifteen minutes later and hundreds of gallons of water poorer, I replaced the element. -Dianna Tucker

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Caution: Highly Foolhardy

Caution: Highly Foolhardy

I came home early one spring afternoon to find it was a bit cool in the house, so I decided to build a fire in the fireplace. I hate to admit it, but sometimes we use a little charcoal lighter fluid to get the fire started. This time, however, the can was empty. I went to the garage to find a substitute and spotted a can of starting fluid that said 'highly flammable.' Just what I wanted, or so I thought. I brought it into the house and sprayed some onto the logs. Big mistake. I lit a match and before I could even get it into the kindling, there was a thunderous explosion. Blue flames shot out of the lower vent, hitting my shins just above my shoes and scorching my socks. Luckily I escaped without injury or any major damage to my house. I never told anyone until now. My advice: Start your kindling only with a little newspaper and a match! Follow this how-to guide for starting a fire in your fireplace.

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Raindrops Keep Falling.....

Raindrops Keep Falling.....

After I left for college, my father decided to empty my waterbed. Unable to get a good siphon going, he gave up and dropped the hose on the floor and left the room to take care of other chores. Hours later he noticed water dripping through the ceiling below. The siphoning had started after all. When I went home that weekend, he had several garbage cans in the living room and had drilled holes all over the ceiling to let the water out. Poor Dad. I'd never seen him more frustrated and forlorn. I don't think we'll be shopping for another waterbed anytime soon!

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Puppy artFamily Handyman

Puppy art

While painting our side door, I spilled a few drops of paint. As I was getting a rag to clean it up, my son came home from school. He opened the storm door and just missed stepping in the can of paint. Unfortunately, our dog, which I had carefully shut outside, came trailing in right behind him. A big, hairy paw stepped right into the can of black, oil-based paint. To make matters worse, the dog got scared and ran as I yelled and chased him, hoping to keep him off the carpet. His paint-soaked paw made a disaster across the house. When I was between cleaning the floors and the black-pawed dog, my wife came home. Calling it "puppy art" didn't improve the situation. — Carl Bernardi

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A Waste of Time

A Waste of Time

Soon after we restored our 1920s-era farmhouse, it was time to clean up the construction debris. A friend offered the use of his heavy-duty dump truck, and because we'd spent a fortune on the remodel, I took him up on it. My wife and I spent days carefully filling the dump truck with old windows, drywall and yard waste, loading it so tightly a mouse couldn't crawl through. I started the truck and proceeded to drive across the yard. Suddenly the truck broke through the top of our septic tank and was buried up to its axle. We spent a whole day emptying the truck and had to call for a special tow truck to pull it out. So much for saving money! Learn more about septic systems here.

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Cat’ll callFamily Handyman

Cat’ll call

After living in our old house for years, we decided to go all out and remodel the bathroom. Our dream was to install a Jacuzzi tub with a beautiful tile surround. After all the backbreaking work, we finally got to the fun part — setting the tile. We did a flawless job! Later that evening, we realized our cat was missing. After looking everywhere, we heard a distinct meow coming from the bathroom. Realizing that the sound was corning from the new tub surround, we carefully cut through the tile and cement board and found our cat alive and well. We made the best of a bad situation— our rescue hole became a maintenance access panel that we probably should have installed in the first place. — Matthew Robichaud

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Hot Pants!

Hot Pants!

As I was installing a basement water softener, my family started to complain about the water being shut off. Well, I tried to hurry. I was holding a propane torch with one hand while trying to join the pipes with the other. No go—I needed both hands, so I tucked the flaming torch between my knees to free up my other one. As I reached upward, the torch flipped downward and set my pants on fire! I swatted the fire out and did a fancy two-step to get my pants off. I spent the next hour in the tub soaking off the melted polyester that had stuck fast to my skin. Luckily, I didn't have a serious burn. I have learned not to rush jobs—or at least to wear flame-retardant work duds when I do. Learn how to sweat copper pipe like a pro.

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Can You Hear Me Now?Family Handyman

Can You Hear Me Now?

I was going to install a faucet in our upstairs bathroom and had brought home some slick new quarter-turn ball valves to replace the old shutoffs under the sink. My wife's task was to choose and bring home the new faucet while I got started on the valves. When it was time to turn the main water line back on, I had my 15-year-old son stand in the bathroom with his cell phone to watch for leaks. Out at the street I called him on my cell phone and said, "OK, here we go" as I turned on the water. Then my phone went dead. What a time for a dropped call! I quickly redialed but the call rolled to my son's voice mail. I hung up and my phone rang immediately. "Dad, shut the water off!!!" I did and raced inside and up the stairs to find the entire bathroom and hallway carpet completely soaked. Turns out I'd left my slick new ball valves in the open position when I installed them. -Vaughn Williams

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Runaway Mower

Runaway Mower

My old riding mower works fine, except for a weak battery that needs an occasional jump start. One fine day as I was riding it across the lawn, I had to shut it down to take a phone call. When I tried to start it up again, the engine wouldn't turn over. Luckily, it had died near the street, so I pulled my car up next to the mower, connected the jumper cables and waited a few minutes. Standing next to the mower, I pressed my foot down on the brake, turned the key and sure enough, the engine started right up. I then took my foot off the brake and watched in horror as the mower sped away, ripping the ends of the jumper cables off as it went. I had forgotten to put the transmission in neutral! Thankfully, I was able to hop on and stop it before it got too far, but I got a hearty round of applause from my neighbors, who appreciated the clown show. These are our top 10 mower safety tips.

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Doggone

Doggone

One day last summer, I was working on our faulty electric garage door opener and my wife was outside training our new puppy. After a while, she decided to pick some weeds and slipped the dog's leash over the closest, most convenient spot, the garage door handle. Unaware of this, I finished the repairs and hit the opener button on the wall. When the door got about halfway up, I could hear the dog yelping and my wife screaming as the dog was hoisted up by the neck. Fortunately, the dog survived without injury and we've agreed to remove the outside door handle. — Walt Peterson

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Solitary Confinement

Solitary Confinement

I'm building my own home, and I pride myself on being able to tackle almost any job. I thought I'd figured out a great system for installing the prehung doors. My problem came when I got to a closet door that opened out from the closet. To keep the door frame square, I nailed blocks at a 45-degree angle to the outside of the jambs. I then got my shims, level and nail gun ready and went into the lighted closet and started shimming and shooting nails into the jambs. When I finished, I tried to open the door. The blocks were nailed across the jambs on the other side. I didn't have a hammer or a pry bar, but I remembered the cell phone in my pocket. I called my brother, and after I listened to his hysterics, he agreed to come and rescue me. He hasn't mentioned it to anyone yet, but I know he's just waiting for the right moment.

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Smokin' New Man CaveFamily Handyman

Smokin' New Man Cave

After hours of meticulous, testosterone-enriched planning, I began building my garage “man cave.” I installed cabinets with workbenches, storage units, a dust collection system, air filtration and even a heater. Because of the low ceiling, I carefully installed recessed lighting so that my custom hand-carved garage door would roll up unobstructed once it was installed. On the first warm day of spring, I rolled up my old garage door (the new one hadn’t arrived yet) and started working in my new man cave. After about 15 minutes, I smelled smoke and realized my garage door was smoldering! I rolled it down and found three scorched spots where my recessed lights were burning into the door. I’m just glad my custom door hadn’t been installed yet! -Wade Clary

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Super Glue Follies

Super Glue Follies

In the middle of a bathroom repair, I left a bottle of Super Glue uncapped while I answered the phone. My husband went into the bathroom and disrobed for a shower— but first, he sat on the toilet. An inveterate bathroom reader, he picked up the glue bottle and started to read it. A few minutes later, I heard this muffled cry for help. I hung up and went to investigate. My husband had somehow glued his chest to his thighs. I got him backed out of the bathroom and onto the bed and tried to pull his legs free. We couldn't get him unstuck! I decided he must be rushed to the emergency room, but he refused to go naked. But how do you get pants on a naked man glued to himself? I brought in a plastic lawn bag to wrap him in, but he refused to go like that. I called a nurse friend, who, after laughing uncontrollably, suggested I dribble nail polish remover onto his chest and work it into the glued area with cotton swabs. It worked, but to this day, any mention of Super Glue brings a look of terror to my husband's face. Here are 25 ways you probably haven't tried to remove super glue.

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Bee careful with that hammerFamily Handyman

Bee careful with that hammer

I was tearing down an old shed that wasn’t much more than weathered lumber over a dirt floor. A fair number of bees were flying around, but I kept going until the shed was down and stacked into neat piles. There was one last piece of plywood lying on the ground. With the hammer in my hand, I used the claw to lift up the plywood. Out from the ground came the bees! I dropped the plywood and started running, but one of the bees was gaining on me! My instinct was to start waving my hands to ward off the bee, but I forgot I was holding my hammer! The emergency room doc was laughing so hard that he had a tough time keeping the stitches straight as he worked on the gash above my eyebrow. — Norman Bullock

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Two Times the Water DamageFamily Handyman

Two Times the Water Damage

The toilet in the upstairs bathroom had been leaking for some time, which had rotted the floor. I removed the toilet, vanity and sink to replace the plywood. Once the new vinyl floor in and the vanity were reinstalled, I left off the sink to make it easier to solder on new shutoff valves. With the main water supply to the house turned off, I installed the shutoff valves. Then I went downstairs to turn on the water supply so I could check the joints for leaks. As I walked back upstairs, fancying myself a master plumber, I heard the sound of gushing water. I had forgotten to turn off the shutoff valves! The bathroom was flooded and the ceiling below was ruined. But my soldering job held up perfectly. -Glenn McComas

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Broken Toy Box

Broken Toy Box

The toys at my northern Michigan cabin were multiplying in the garage, so I decided it was time for an addition. I doubled the length of the garage, making it an end-to-end, two-car structure. To save money, I hand-framed the roof rather than use factory-built trusses. With all this extra garage space, I'd be able to buy even more toys!

After several snow and ice storms up north, I received a call from my neighbor, who asked the dreadful question, 'Remember the garage you used to have?' The weight of the snow had caused the roof to cave in, crushing my speedboat, trailer, snowmobiles and dirt bike inside. After careful forensic study, I figured the overloaded rafters had pushed out the walls until the roof collapsed. Probably, I hadn't used enough crossties, leaving me with the lesson that a sturdy toy box is worth spending more for.

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Lesson Learned the Slimy WayFamily Handyman

Lesson Learned the Slimy Way

My wife was complaining about the slow-draining sink in our kitchen, so I put my handyman prowess to work. I planned to use the blow feature on my shop vacuum to push the clog through the drain line. As I inserted the hose into the drain, my wife asked, "Don’t you think we should cover the other drain?" But it was too late. I'd already flipped on the vacuum, causing stinky, slimy water to shoot out of the other drain and drench us. Next time I'll let her finish talking before I start working. -Steve Fears

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That is One Mighty FanFamily Handyman

That is One Mighty Fan

I helped my son-in-law install a new ceiling fan and light in their kitchen. The wiring in the house was pretty old, but we’d figured it out—or at least we hoped so. That evening, my son-in-law called to say that when he flipped the switch to show my daughter the new fan, all the power in the house went out! I told him to turn off the switch and reset any breakers. He did as I said, but nothing changed. Anticipating a total project redo, I told him I’d be over shortly. A few minutes later, he called back to say there was a neighborhood power outage. It turned out this was a major outage affecting 42,000 homes. When my daughter put two and two together, she said, “Wow, from one little fan?” -Louis DeSanzo

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What a Turkey

What a Turkey

The week before Thanksgiving, my office gave all the employees a free turkey as thanks for our hard work during the year. I rushed home with my frozen bird, and my wife told me to put it in the basement freezer since the kitchen freezer was full. I took the turkey downstairs and opened the door to find the freezer compartment almost completely iced over. There was no time to defrost it, so I thought I would chip away just enough ice to fit the turkey inside. I grabbed a small hammer and a screwdriver and started tapping on the ice. One, two, and on my third tap, there was a loud hissing sound. I had ruptured a refrigerant line that was just below the ice. The estimate to repair the line and replace the coolant was about the same as the price of a new freezer—$350. I bought the new freezer and put my very expensive 'free' turkey inside it. Plus: Refrigerator Repair

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A Flush to Remember

A Flush to Remember

After removing an old toilet, I did the classic handyman trick of stuffing a bunch of plastic bags into the sewer opening. This kept the stench from seeping into the bathroom while I installed the new toilet over the weekend. After setting and hooking up the new commode, I did a test flush. It was very satisfying to watch the water swirl down and the bowl fill up—and up and up! The toilet gushed water all over the floor. Turns out the other half of that trick is removing the bags from the sewer opening. Really scary stuff. - Rob Kiesling

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Family Handyman

"I Did What You Said, Dad"

My bathroom sink stopped up and I had to take off the trap to pull out a clog of gunk. I removed the trap and caught the water in a bucket—scummy, soapy, toothpaste goobery, hairy water. I then positioned myself under the pipe to look up and make sure that all the gunk was out of the drain. I handed the bucket of water up to my 4-year-old son and asked him to get rid of it. He did what seemed perfectly natural to him—he poured it down the sink! All of the slimy water came right back in my face with a vengeance. -Lindsay Gerard

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Floor Sander Stampede

Floor Sander Stampede

After giving our living room a fresh coat of paint, I decided to try my hand at refinishing the hardwood floors. So I rented a floor sander, an 80-lb. beast of a machine with a large rotating drum that sands the floor while you walk behind. I loaded a coarse-grit sandpaper, as recommended, and plugged in the machine. After sanding a few feet, the machine stopped. I noticed that the heavy plug had partially slipped out, so I walked over and wiggled it back into the outlet. I quickly discovered that the sander's switch was still on. The thing started up and shot across the room like the rabbit at a dog race, with me chasing it. It crashed through the wall I had just painted, leaving a hole about the size of...well, a floor sander. Even worse, my wife and daughter had been watching. They quietly left the room. I also left the room...to get my drywall tools. Everything you need to know about refinishing hardwood floors is right here.

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Saddle SoreFamily Handyman

Saddle Sore

When we moved into our new home, we brought our refrigerator with us. When we tried to hook up the icemaker, we discovered there wasn’t a water line in the kitchen to tap into. I located a spot behind the refrigerator, drilled a hole in the floor and ran the tubing to the basement. The water heater was close, so I thought I’d tap into the water line there. I noticed three copper lines running to the water heater: two at the top and one near the bottom. I felt the lines to make sure I wouldn’t tap into the hot water and decided to use the one at the bottom, since it felt cold. I attached the saddle clamp to the line and screwed down the needle until it pierced the pipe. No water came through the line, so I went upstairs to make sure the icemaker was turned on. After a few trips up and down the stairs, I smelled gas and realized that I’d tapped into the gas line. I told my wife and kids to get out of the house while I closed the saddle clamp, stopping the flow of gas. I called the gas company from the neighbor’s house. This goof was too close for comfort. — Cameron LiDestri. Next, check out 100 home repairs you don't need to call a pro for. We'll show you how to do it yourself!