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Home > Building & Construction > Seven Common DIY Disasters and How to Avoid Them

Seven Common DIY Disasters and How to Avoid Them

By Karin Mangan
Seven Common DIY Disasters and How to Avoid Them

Some home improvement mistakes lead to nothing more than a red face and an amusing tale to tell your friends. Others can be time-consuming, costly, or even dangerous. Here are some common mistakes that you can easily avoid.

1. Damage to water pipes

Before you start knocking nails or fixing screws into walls or floors, make sure you know where your water pipes are. If you don't, a job as simple as hanging a new bathroom mirror could see you calling an emergency plumber, removing the wall tiles to repair the pipe, and redecorating the bathroom and adjoining rooms to cover the water marks. A wire and pipe detector is a relatively cheap piece of equipment that could save you a lot of trouble. Don't depend entirely on the detector, however--they are not 100 percent reliable. Use your common sense to work out where the water pipes are likely to be and proceed carefully.

2. Damage to electrical wiring

Always use a wire and pipe detector to check for electrical cables and wiring before fixing nails or screws into a wall. Again, don't rely entirely on the equipment. The location of your outlets and switches should be a guide to where the wiring is likely to be. To be safe, use tools with insulated handles and always use power tools that have a circuit breaker.

3. Permits

Many renovation and remodeling projects require homeowners to have a permit. Always check whether a permit is required before starting any project such as a room addition or replacement windows. Permit requirements vary by state.

4. Falls from ladders

Every year, over 164,000 people end up in the emergency room in the U.S. because of ladder-related accidents. Always use a ladder that is the correct length and make sure it is stable and well secured before beginning any work.

5. Incorrect measurements

"Measure twice, cut once" should be every home improver's mantra.

6. Fixtures that fall down

Always use the correct length of screw, moly bolt, or other fittings when putting up shelves or other wall-mounted items such as mirrors or cabinets. Otherwise they could fall down and injure someone; break other items such as ornaments, sinks, and windows; and damage the wall.

7. Shelves that aren't level

If you are planning to do any DIY that requires a level surface--putting up shelves or hanging pictures or mirrors--always use a level. Judging by eye alone can give some very unsatisfactory results.

Careful preparation and planning, and making sure you have the proper tools for the job, can help you avoid turning a simple home improvement project into a DIY disaster.

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