36 Almost Unbelievable Plumbing and Electrical Goofs
Read these DIYers’ embarrassing moments stories and DIY fails from plumbing mishaps and electrical trenches.
A Flush to Remember
– Rob Kiesling
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.
Cut the Lights
– Ernie Smith
The Physics of Plumbing
-Dr. Kris Storm
Use Your Head not Your Hammer
– Mari Nelson
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.
Plumber? What plumber?
As my husband greeted them, I ran around the house and threw the towels, buckets and mops into the garage, pushed the washer back into place, and told the plumber to go wait in his truck, which was prominently sitting in our driveway.
The couple toured the house while my husband and I suffered heart palpitations. They ended up buying our house. And luckily they never did ask what the plumber was doing in the driveway…
Exploding toilet trick
First I sprayed silicone lube on everything in the tank to help things slide better. Then I leaned over the tank with my lighter, clicked it and…WHOOOOMPP! The aerosol silicone spray I had just shot into the tank exploded. Luckily, I escaped with only singed hair and eyelashes. But now my wife can’t stop telling people about our exploding toilet. — Ron Woodward
The Ever-Flowing Water Heater
Can You Hear Me Now?
Fourth Time’s the Charm
The next day I did the backbreaking 45-minute thing over again and replaced the clutch. Then I reattached the supply hoses, pushed the unit back into place and started it. Oh, man—water began coming out from underneath the washer! I’d forgotten to reattach the drain hose! Once again, I pulled the whole thing out from the wall. Then I reattached the drain hose, pushed the unit back yet again, started it and Hallelujah, it seemed to work fine—no leaks.
The next day my wife discovered hot water coming out during the cold cycle. I’d switched the hot and cold hoses when I reattached them! Which meant I had to….
Two Times the Water Damage
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.
A New Toilet to Go with that Seat
I replaced the toilet, but haven’t had my dad ask me to do anything around the house since. (I guess that means it worked out for the best after all!)
-Martin Todd Dorris
Lesson Learned the Slimy Way
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.
F is for Flub—and Flood
Everything worked perfectly—until I returned to the laundry room and found myself standing in a pool of soapy water. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten to put the drain line back into the laundry tub and an entire washer’s worth of dirty water had poured onto my floor. Talk about washed up!
-William C. Sinclair
I quickly turned off the water supply at the wall and tried to loosen the coupling nut that secures the valve so I could replace the part. It was corroded and wouldn’t budge. I decided to pull the toilet for better access to the stuck nut. I removed the flange nuts and lifted the toilet with all my might…and learned that the caulking bead around the toilet base can be exceptionally strong. The bowl base broke into three pieces and water spilled everywhere.
My wife and I decided that I should quit while I was behind and call a real plumber. The $350 bill was an expensive end to a simple task, but there is no cleaner toilet than a brand new one.
“I Did What You Said, Dad”
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
A Quick Shower
Well, a couple of weeks later when the job was completed, we decided to take a fishing trip. I went out to the garage to grab my fishing rod that I store in a stud space there. I pulled and pulled, but it wouldn’t budge. Finally I realized that one of those 2-in. nails had found its way dead center into my fishing rod. I was able to pry it loose and salvage it. Now every time I cast, I see light through a small hole in the rod and think not of the fish I’ll catch but of power nailing.
— Norm Holcomb
A soaking surprise
— Michael Totoro
Sparks in the dark
— Pedro Espada
Wake up Shock
Smokin’ New Man Cave
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!
That is One Mighty Fan
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.
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.
— Ted Labatte
In the Bag
— Rob Kiesling
Real Men Don’t Use Irons
I changed the first two outlets and started on the third. Plugged in the iron—yup, the light was off. When I touched the wire, there was a flash of sparks and my entire arm went numb. I was floored—how could I get a shock when the iron showed the power was off? I learned the hard way that the light goes off when the iron reaches the right temperature. I think I’ll stick with my voltage sniffer from now on.
— Shawn Tombolini
Electric Cake Batter
— Mary-Kay Reno
Night Light Nightmare
Big mistake. Sure, the light turned off when there wasn’t anyone in the room. But it also turned on when we didn’t want it to—like when the kids rolled over in their sleep or the cat entered the room on its nightly patrol and jumped up on their beds. The instant-on light woke up the kids, who in turn woke me up with their yelling. I swapped it with the old switch the next morning. Now if I can just get my dear wife to stop snoring, I’ll be able to get a peaceful night’s sleep.
— Dave Ahrendt
— Milo Amundsen
A Shocking Email
A Bit of A Problem