100 Home Disasters Waiting to Happen

Updated: Feb. 28, 2023

It's only a matter of time before these real-life home improvement fails become disasters.

1 / 100

Hot air goes up-cold air goes down

This guy must have decided to put a ceiling-hung gas furnace in his garage. But he should have read the instruction manual on how to install the gas heater. Maybe the flue would have been facing the right direction.
2 / 100

Dual exhaust downspouts

This is another case of "PP" (pretty poor) planning. The garage furnace flue was cut in before figuring out clearance issues with the gutters. But aren't those downspouts perfect?
3 / 100
At least they’re stainless!
Photo: Courtesy of Structure Tech

At least they’re stainless!

It’s a little known fact, but bolts have to go through the material they’re intended to hold in place. Deck joists need to be installed properly for maximum support.
4 / 100

Rorschach door painting

Without thinking, tell me what you see. There are techniques involved with painting a door.
5 / 100

Brokeback roof

Some people should skip the hand-framing and stick with roof trusses. That way you don't need to be a skilled carpenter.
6 / 100

Another use for landscape blocks

No WAY I’m paying for another two feet of ductwork! Guessing the real reason was that the furnace was shorter and this guy didn’t know how to extend the ductwork to accommodate a shorter furnace.
7 / 100

Water runs uphill right?

If so the shingles are upside down. Gutters and downspouts are generally at the bottom of eaves.
8 / 100


Painter’s tape doesn’t stand up to the elements like good old duct tape. Not to mention the fact that this is an antenna for indoor use only? Barney won’t be on for long. There are other ways to improve TV reception.
9 / 100

Burglar Proof — Absolutely!

I don't know. Sometimes, just looking at a photo will tell you whether or not a guy is single. It's really not all that hard to replace window hardware. You'll want to know these cheap ways to burglar-proof your home instead of this attempt.
10 / 100
Speed bump
Photo: Courtesy of Structure Tech

Speed bump

Ahhh...the glow of satisfaction from a job well done. Clearly, plumbing and drain installation isn't for everyone.
11 / 100
One more reason why voltage sniffers were invented
Photo: Courtesy of Structure Tech

One more reason why voltage sniffers were invented

Which ones? That’s the game! Try your luck! First prize is one free shock-therapy treatment. One should ALWAYS use caution when working in a breaker box!
12 / 100

P-trap, not mouse trap

Must've been something really tasty plugging up that trap! Better get a new one put on before it starts leaking!
13 / 100

Nerve ganglia

So the theory is, if you just hook up enough wires, something's gotta work. Installing a new outlet shouldn't be this difficult.
14 / 100

Getting set up for a green roof?

More likely this is to keep the roof from burning in a wildfire. Guess it would be better than nothing. This is one way to prevent house fires.
15 / 100

Cold air return

Hard to figure out what’s going on here. Sure you need a cold air return in the basement, but why not just put a vent in the cold air return? Maybe they’re planning ahead for a future wall?
16 / 100

Now THAT’S a hot lead!

Holy major electrical mistake Batman. This guy actually drew electricity from one of the main cables entering the house before the main panel and breakers. Wonder if he lived to call the electrical inspector for final inspection. These are the most common National Electric Code violations for DIYers.
17 / 100

Stick shift toilet

So, I sit backwards, project my video game on the tank, and use the flusher as a joystick. Might be time to replace this old beauty.
18 / 100

Lamp in the freezer?

I don’t know why freezers don’t have lights, so I just put one in myself. Maybe the lamp was just overheating?
19 / 100

Blue light special

Sale on extra long bolts on aisle 4. Guess there’s nothing wrong with that. But judging from the corrosion at the nuts, these fasteners aren’t rated for treated lumber or maybe not even galvanized.
20 / 100

50% off on railings. Let’s go!

Dad must’ve thought that the kids would need a stair rail that grew along with them, so they added one more railing for each growth spurt. Believe it or not this is almost legal. At least it passes the 4-in. ball test. The problem is that there’s no returns at the ends.
21 / 100

Vertical skylights are great

I’d love to see how they solve the issue of flashing this roof. Flashing against brick is possible but there’s no instruction manual for flashing through the middle of a window.
22 / 100

Iron lung in the basement

Know what’s going on here? Our best guess is that it’s in Jethro Tull’s basement. It might be an old fashioned well pressure tank. But then again maybe not.
23 / 100

Helpful signage

I know every time I want to start a fire in the fireplace, I check the chimney cap to see if it's OK. Maybe the flue should get inspected.
24 / 100

Redneck awnings

If only there were a pool in the driveway, these would make great diving platforms as well. Through-the-wall AC units would have solved this problem and looked a little tidier.
25 / 100

Nicely warmed jackets, all ready for snow shoveling

I sure hope those coats are flame retardant. Last Supper indeed! The water heater flue should NOT be in contact with flammable items! A power vented water heater would solve this problem.
26 / 100

Charlie Manson’s bathroom

Want some decorative walls? Wallpapering is something anybody can do!
27 / 100

What’s wrong with this picture? Let thee count the ways…

My first question is why did someone cover up this beautiful ceiling with a hideous drop ceiling?! More importantly, there are specific guidelines to follow when adding a receptacle SAFELY!
28 / 100

Attic stairs sans treads

It’s nice to see that some folks really care about safety measures for their neighborhood peeping Toms. There’s got to be a better way to access that attic.
29 / 100

Industrial laundry chute?

Nope. This DIYer was determined to fix that wobbly newel post once and for all. Seems like this could work on a deck post too, but there are easier ways.
30 / 100

Accidental greenhouse

Indoor plants are nice, but not when their roots are outside. Repairing the window so the plants can’t get in would be a good start to fixing this problem.
31 / 100

It’s all Greek to me

Hope the new home owner can speak Swahili or Russian-or something. Marking circuit breakers is a great idea as long as you can understand them.
32 / 100

Stan and Andrea’s fault

This isn’t just a case of bad stucco. The homeowner is going to have to go all the way to replacing the footings.
33 / 100

Tin can alley

So satisfying to see a well-planned job through to the end. Gotta check into a better way to support a shelf!
34 / 100

Who needs a steel post-of the right length-that’s anchored, or something?

Is this a game of whole-house Jenga? These load-bearing posts are supposed to support the whole house, the little blocks don’t have the compression strength to do the job.
35 / 100

Surgical clamp

Well, if the saddle valve doesn't fail, at least the C-clamp on the hose will. My guess is that the saddle valve already failed, so someone found a clever way to turn it off!
36 / 100

Dueling appliance doors

Well? I suppose we could roast the turkey on the drying cycle? A little bit of kitchen planning goes a long way.
37 / 100

Grow your own hardware cloth

Keeping rodents out of your chimney is important. But there are actually store-bought solutions for adding chimney caps that work better.
38 / 100

Sock purgatory

Well, at least we've solved the problem of where those lost socks go. Duct tape alone just wasn't stopping the leaks.
39 / 100

Flashing foolishness

Looks like they got the gist of installing step flashing. Just forgot the most important part-tucking it behind the counter flashing to make a skylight leakproof.
40 / 100

Framing with scrap lumber

Um, I think joists need to be one piece. Framing your deck is NOT the place to use up scraps!
41 / 100

P-trap Nirvana

Now all I have to do is put in a flex pipe at the wall. To make the drain work, you just lift the sink out and tilt it every which way. There are better ways to connect a sink drain.
42 / 100

Porcelain throne for the uninhibited

So much for the one place a guy can be left alone! Delores wanted to make sure that she could give Ron additions to his to-do list at all times. Time to plan out some bathroom walls!
43 / 100

Who needs a “Pee”-trap?

"See, this way the city can't monitor the water going down my drain and I don't get charged for it. And if I'm not feeling like using the toilet, I can just let loose anywhere in the basement!" Yes, it’s true. In order to work properly, a drain actually has to be connected to something.
44 / 100

New stairwell? Sure, hand me that reciprocating saw please.

Yup. Looks like there’s a stud wall resting on this mess. I don’t think that a 2x6 qualifies as a load-bearing post!
45 / 100

Beer case insulation

Uncle Cooter never minded living in the attic. Nope. Not one bit. Not sure what the R-value of cardboard boxes is, but I am sure that using actual insulation in the attic would be better.
46 / 100

Guess where the couch was...

Cutting in paint around trim isn’t all that hard to do. And it’s even easier around furniture-or you could just move it.
47 / 100

Hot line to Dominos

After training rats, B.F. Skinner decided to test his training on the kids. Or maybe it’s connected to a switched outlet where the pizza oven is plugged in.
48 / 100

Tree eats cable

Trimming this tree would be a very delicate operation. And you might want to call up the power company for this job.
49 / 100

Larry, Curly and Moe

Apparently, there was one shingle from the old roof that just had some sentimental value. But eventually, he'll have to give up on sentiments and replace the shingle.
50 / 100

Snow load support

After earning a structural engineering degree from a box of Cracker Jacks, Raymond decided to put his newfound skills to use installing a new garage door opener.
51 / 100
Walter White’s stovetop
Structure Tech

Walter White’s stovetop

I know it says self-cleaning, but how long are you willing to wait? At least you probably don’t need to buy spices for a while. You can just smear off some grime and throw it in the pot.
52 / 100

So I asked the plumbing guy at the home center….

This is a perfect install, if the only use is for flooding your basement. This utdoor sillcock could've been thought through a little better.
53 / 100

Occasionally candle flames can really get hot

So close! Almost got that new kitchen paid for! Under cabinet lighting is a nice upgrade, but not at the expense of burning down your house!
54 / 100

Another head-scratcher

This looks like a laundry tub faucet. But why was the spout cut off? Didn’t clear the divider maybe? It’s time for this cowboy to invest in a new laundry tub.
55 / 100

Cyclops outlet

Something caused this device to melt. Probably overloading the outlet. But why in the world didn't the breaker trip? Plus: Check out these other cringe-worthy home improvement fails.
56 / 100

Mystery leak sealant

Maybe it's silly putty, maybe plumbers putty, maybe epoxy putty, maybe they should have just fixed the leaks to avoid scary stuff like this.
57 / 100

DIY water heater/still conversion

Every night, Bubba added more corn to the hopper and waited by the water heater with a shot glass. I don’t think this is standard piping for a TPR valve.
58 / 100

Toasted curtains. Where’s the jelly?

Now that’s a close call! Flammable materials close to electric baseboard heaters is a good recipe for a fire!
59 / 100

Find the piano in this picture

Just maybe this piano/shelf is still playable. Look closely and you'll see the pedals. Our theory is that the pegboard above the keyboard is actually a way for the sound to travel from the utility room to the ballroom. (See next slide to see the rest)
60 / 100

400-lb coat rack

...and the back side doubles as a coat rack! The piano is much quieter in the winter!
61 / 100

Sink stilts

Now I'll just prop up the bottom of the cabinet, then the bathroom floor, and then a jack post in the basement and we're all set. What on earth is the countertop made of? Cardboard? Or maybe the kitchen counter sink cut out is too big.
62 / 100

Architectural detailing for the ages

Here's proof. The cool thing about installing shingles is that any dummy can do it! But, there is a right way to do it!
63 / 100

Death Valley

Don't cry honey, I have no idea what happened to your pet iguana. But rest assured, he'll always be with us. Or is it a wayward squirrel that couldn't find his way out?
64 / 100

Draft hood follies

Maybe one last piece of ductwork wasn’t all this installer was short on. The draft hood above the water heater allows a draft so the warm air can go up and out. The ad hoc draft hood at the top not only doesn’t do anything, it can allow carbon monoxide back into the house.
65 / 100

OSHA approved

There. That’ll keep the inspector off my back. I hope he doesn’t bring a tape so he can check the distance between the balusters on my new stair rail.
66 / 100

Overhead tub spout

Yup. The whirlpool tub fills from the upstairs toilet! Genius!
67 / 100

Wonder what the bedroom ceiling looks like?

What twisted freak designed this? It’s like a funhouse bathroom! Might want to take a look at some good ways to remodel a bathroom.
68 / 100

Basement Oasis

But where will he live if the water heater gets fixed? Looks like it's about time to replace the old water heater.
69 / 100

Where there’s a will…

If you close off the register, this cabinet doubles as a convection oven. Would’ve been a better idea to reroute that ductwork.
70 / 100


Not everyone has the luxury of a copy editor. Maybe it’s “unoppertable” because the installer never finished skool. It’s not that hard to install a light fixture that works.
71 / 100


Until that junction box completely disintegrates, this is up to code, right? Judging from the rust, I’m thinking there might be a water problem here as well, and that crowded box should probably be replaced.
72 / 100

Scarf joint madness

So he was smart enough to make a scarf joint, cool. Problem is scarf joints need some kind of load bearing post below them.
73 / 100

Why fix a roof leak when you have cookie sheets?

A leaky roof can be a cause for drastic measures. In this case, I think it might have been less expensive and less work to actually fix the roof!
74 / 100

Tank top

Expecting the toilet to grow sideways, Tom planned ahead. Installing a new toilet was far too much work.
75 / 100

Wooden electrical box

See, the problem is, electricity can spark and wood can burn! This would probably be fine if they put a legitimate electrical box inside the wooden box.
76 / 100

SEAL team 7 training stairs

After careful years of planning and tending the weed bed, Myrtle thought balusters would just destroy the view. That looks like quite a tumble if you took a bad step on those stairs!
77 / 100


We’ve done a slideshow on mind blowing uses for expanding foam. Although this is a bit mind blowing, it didn’t make the list. I’m not even sure what the intended fix was here.
78 / 100

Is this foam the fireproof kind?

Perhaps this was supposed to be for plugging leaks around the flue. Recapping the chimney the proper way might be a better strategy.
79 / 100

Does this ductwork make my butt look big?

If your shorts fit over ductwork, then yes. Yes it does. They do sell duct hangers that are better suited to this purpose.
80 / 100

Larry Bird's boyhood home

After bouncing the basketball off the roof for five years, I guess mom and dad finally agreed to get junior a backboard. Time to re-shingle this roof!
81 / 100

Rube Goldberg's basement

Jeff decided to make it his goal to use every single 2-in. PVC fitting offered at Lowes. Can you imagine how many trips to the home center this took?
82 / 100

Not that anyone ever would…

Between the Jetsons and Santa Claus, I don’t know who’s worse. Suffice to say they’ll be ticketed or towed from now on! But seriously, you can buy all the parts you need to install gutters at home centers.
83 / 100

The stash

It’s a secret hiding place for something, but who knows what? Learn more here about clever places to hide things.
84 / 100

Roughing in for a centrally located sink

Can't even come up with a theory on what's going on here. Perhaps some instructions on how to connect a sink drain would be helpful.
85 / 100

Squirrel prepper

Why would you bury your dry goods out in the yard when there's a cozy warm attic you can use for the winter stash? Dealing with pests like squirrels in the attic can be a challenge.
86 / 100

Hair dryer

Frank got this brilliant idea while drinking beer at the local watering hole. The rest is history. Of course, he had to add a new circuit to pull it off. His wife loves it.
87 / 100

Kilts and skirts not recommended

Oh, how you laughed as I collected all those free tile samples. Well who’s laughing now?! Another three months and we’ll have new carpet in the living room.
88 / 100

Under the boardwalk-boardwalk!

Once I get a little wood filler in the cracks, this is going to look amazing! Installing wood flooring does take just a little bit of skill.
89 / 100

Long and winding road

Bill and Susan decided they'd let family of moles do the fertilizing this fall. And I guess they should've set him up with a little more fertilizer.
90 / 100

Tin pan alley

Cooling fins-or radiator fins-you be the judge. Or maybe it's an attempt to stop the mice from using the ductwork as an elevated expressway?
91 / 100

Homeless mouse shelter

Electricity and water don’t get along. At least they installed a GFCI outlet.
92 / 100

THE scene from Alien

If you gotta have power on the other side of the wall, this isn’t the way to go about it. And not only is it ugly, it would have been easier to add an outlet the right way.
93 / 100

Wood dowels can be real problem solvers

After learning quickly that a cigar wouldn’t plug this hole, Leonard tried a wooden plug...Looks like the cap was rusted in place so they just drilled through it to access the cleanout. Learn how a pro removes a stuck plug here.
94 / 100

Flue follies

Exhaust gases from a water heater flue are hot and go up, (think hot air balloon). This is a great way to get carbon monoxide backdrafting into the house. This is the kind of thing that really gets C/O detectors super duper excited.
95 / 100

Patchwork quilt for houses

Maybe the shingles spell out a cry for help to passing airplanes? I think this fella is just collecting all the leftover shingles from his roofing contractor buddies. Perhaps it's time for a roof tearoff.
96 / 100

Walking in the winter wonderland

If only the squirrels living in the soffits would quit using this vent to drain their bath water ... I guess they just don’t understand ice dams.
97 / 100

The Addam’s family utility room

Judging from the shape of this boiler system, the radiators likely need bleeding. But at least they have a place to drain the supper dishes.
98 / 100

Halloween decor

Hmmm... Stephen King's attic? Other storage solutions might be less nightmare-inducing, but I'm not sure I'd go up there anymore. Never know what else you might find!
99 / 100

Water cooled outlet

Hard to tell, but I think the cord goes into the pot. Maybe trying to boost the growth of the plants through shock therapy when the rainwater comes out of the downspout?
100 / 100

Socket wrench hinge pin

Wow! This is a huge improvement over the coat hangers in the other hinges! Brilliant! A lesson in garage door repair might be in order.