15 Awful DIY Plumbing Disasters

plumbing disasters

plumbing disasters

There’s no doubt that taking the lesser traveled DIY path usually saves a ton of money on household projects, whether they be small fixer-uppers or large retiling jobs. Sometimes, however, it’s just better to call the damn plumber; they have the job for a reason. While DIY sounds awesome on paper, it doesn’t always look — or work — too great when the washer is shaking across the kitchen floor and the new makeshift pipes burst to flood the whole room.

DIY Disasters Compilation

Kicking things off with a general DIY construction disasters seems like a great idea — even though some of the clips date all the way back to ancient ’89, watching a guy get hit in the nuts from stepping on his own shovel never gets old. Neither does people falling through collapsing roofs or being knocked off ladders by airborne tree branches. How many of these people were actually seriously injured, only to have their video clips cut up in a humorous manner so the rest of us could laugh at their expense? It doesn’t matter. The point is: the guy getting shot in the face with raw sewage probably had it the worst out of all of them.

The Patented Milk Chug-Doorknob-Electrical Cord Pipe Replacement

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It must be somewhat easy for a wife to forgive her husband after he takes on all the responsibility of learning how to do a major overhaul in the house, proceeds onto an attempted fixing, and botches the whole operation. At least he tried, right? And besides, the job was so big that it would be almost impossible for a beginner not to make a mistake. On that note, it must be nearly impossible for a wife to forgive — or understand — her husband after he builds an elaborate scrapyard contraption to replace a piece of piping which could’ve been bought at the local hardware store… Especially if the job is so bad that the bathtub eventually replaces the kitchen sink for the dishwashing area. A simple P-Trap pipe, which costs just under $100, doesn’t resemble an old Milk Chug can tied to a doorknob with electrical cord at all. At all. Not even a little bit. The purpose of this mysterious invention is still unknown, since it certainly didn’t work like a proper P-Trap, either.

She wanted hot water, not boiling water.

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This aspiring plumber had a stroke of genius when his wife complained that the hot water wasn’t working in their house. Instead of wasting hundreds of dollars on a scheming old plumber who would actually fix the problem, some knob took it upon himself to build a half-assed and inefficient method of obtaining heater water himself. Using a kettle with a homemade spout and a water bottle tipped at just the right angle, the wanna be plumber jammed the uncooperative cold-water-only pipe into the bottle and left it dangling artfully over the hot water ‘heater’. Besides looking like something out of a crack house, there are a few practical issues with this job:
You can only wash your hands for about five seconds before the water runs out.
You have to be really careful how long you leave that water in the kettle for. The idea is to wash the dirt off, not the skin.

***Please note, the above inaccurately stated that this mess was concocted by Barry de Villiers in a Washington D.C. home. Barry de Villiers is a professional plumbing contractor from Perth Australia. Mr. de Villiers got his hands on this picture for a contest his local plumbing supply house was having to find a picture of the most effed up plumbing. Please feel free to visit Barry’s site at www.all4plumbingworks.com.au.

It’s Always Opposite Day at the Sink

The triumph of successfully fixing the kitchen sink at your small business is a large and rewarding one. Congratulations, you’ve just saved a couple hundred dollars while managing to avoid causing a couple thousand in damages to the pipes, walls, and whatever else the job required you to touch with your bumbling nerd hands. Now all that’s left is turning on the faucet. All the tedious, strenuous hours of work will be wrapped up with a feeling of pride and self sufficiency at this very moment….FFFFFFUUUUUUUU!!!!!!

Floating Toilet

plumbing disasters

Remember having to poop in school and not wanting to because the bathrooms were public, unfamiliar, filthy hovels? Imagine your own personal bathroom being like that, sans the public part. Timbo Colquhoun was quite surprised when visiting his client’s home to finish remodeling the bathroom. The client, apparently a once-determined man, had begun trying to revamp his entire bathroom DIY style. Unfortunately, getting excited about a job while reading a billion how-to’s is vastly different from actually putting in the daily and physical labor it requires to actually complete the job (and successfully so). That’s when Colquhoun, a real plumber, came in — and found the guy’s toilet to be the only remaining part of his bathroom. The thing was suspended a few feet in the air and was surprisingly functional. Let’s just hope the guy didn’t have kids… Climbing up on that thing while drunk in the middle of the night sounds like an awful task, but trying to get a four-year-old to aim into it would be pretty much impossible.

Modern Art Toilet

WARNING: The video you are about to see is moderately shaky. That’s because whoever was filming it was doing so while struggling to stop laughing uncontrollably at the horrible plumbing that had been ‘installed’ around this house. The bathroom is the best part: A toilet sits five or six feet from its tank, looking like some sort of weird modern art piece that might sell at MoMa for tens of thousands of dollars. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately?), this wasn’t an attempt at artfulness, but rather one man’s laziness and indolence rearing its ugly head in one of many places. Besides the spooky dismembered toilet, the shower is in pretty awful condition as well. A hole in the wall reveals a black abyss perfect for allowing roach traffic in and out of the premises, while random pipes mar the appearance of rooms they run along the ceilings in.

Feces in the Kitchen Sink

We’re not sure if this video is the result of DIY plumbing, but whoever did the job that led to this nasty, nasty mistake should be barred from fixing anything ever again. A clogged sink can be really annoying. It’s always gross to push a pipe cleaner down the drain and pull up hair, moldy food, and other mysterious matter which has embedded itself comfortably and securely in the way of your old dishwashing water. Next time you’re pulling gunky crap out of your drains, be comforted by the fact that it isn’t nearly as horrible as a bubbling shit stew coming up through the pipes. This family was faced with exactly that — a poop monster, smelly and brown and festering right in the kitchen sink. The kids here vow to never use the sink again… we don’t blame them. Imagine washing vegetables in the same place you once saw your own fecal matter swirling around.


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Possibly the biggest plumbing disaster in all of history was BP’s nightmarish oil spill in April of 2010. The man-made disaster continues to spew forth toxic oil into our oceans, slaughtering millions of sea creatures and decimating just as many ocean-related jobs in various states. Not only that, but the problem has still not been remedied as it approaches its six month anniversary. Sealing the oil erupting from 18,000 feet below sea level hasn’t stopped what’s already escaped from running rampant through the ocean and continuing to destroy wildlife and underwater fauna. BP’s greedy, money-hungry methods led to what has been realistically called one of the worst environmental disasters in history. When the cement casing around a drill began to falter, crew members on the oil rig expressed concern up to two months before the explosion which killed 11 people. Despite warnings, the rising methane gas pressure was ignored and the balance between cement casing, drilling mud to envelope it and push down methane gas, and the gas itself quickly disappeared. The ticking time bomb eventually exploded, burning for two days before finally sinking into the ocean. Its emergency backup method, a ‘fail-safe’ blowout preventer, had failed due to a leak and battery malfunction. Go figure.

Grimace’s House

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Would Grimace himself want purple water? And where is the water coming from that it’s such a vibrant purple color? The only logical explanation for this purple… water …. is that the water pipe is tapped directly into a rainbow. Or a machine that makes purple skittles.

Che Guevara

Next time you call the plumber, make sure the word ‘apprentice’ is nowhere in their company name, contract or mentioned any conversation between the two of you. Unless, of course, you want to have a leisurely beer and laugh your ass off while filming a guy who can’t change a simple valve. By the way, the water is spewing from the pipes and all over your bathroom floor while you do this. It’s funny to see this silly guy fumble with a tiny valve as he alternates between trying to force it in, complaining with his thumb stuck down the hole to stop the leak, and silently suffering as his head rests on the pipe itself. However, the situation would be much less humorous for you to walk in on: the real plumber not doing his job, the crappy new one messing up the job, and a huge mess at your feet.

Suburban Ghetto

What’s more of a disaster: This sink to shower contraption, or the guy’s awful ‘hood’ accent and really precisely placed sideways hat? Either way, it must be a huge pain in the ass to unscrew the shower just to use the sink — or screw in the shower just to get clean. The only credit we can give to this household is the fact that it is most likely much more efficient — albeit less attractive — than others’ hidden but disastrous and home-damaging DIY ideas.

Pipe Maze

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It is completely unclear what the heck is going on here. The only obvious — and most outstanding — fact about this picture is that it is definitely very, very wrong.

Rubber Band Man

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It’s easy to tell when a guy is a real lady killer just by looking at his house. If the bathroom looks like it’s being ‘maintained’ by a frat house for 8-year-olds, he’s probably not dragging home much A-grade meat. This might be functional, but only for a short while… rubber bands are not the most resilient little bands in the world, and so this guy has no choice but to contemplate calling a plumber every time he picks up old pieces of snapped-in-half beige rubber only to replace it with a new addition to the family. The family of rubber bands. Or maybe he just chuckles to himself and feels the pride of someone who has avoided hefty costs with an extremely cheap and alternative way to ‘fix it.’ But that’s only if he’s one of the 8-year-olds.

Sweet Smell of Sewage

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After a long day at work or school, mom’s fresh home cooking is one of the best smells in the world. In fact, the only thing that could make it better is if it were mixed with the pungent odor of sewage gas leaking out from the kitchen or bathroom pipes. To the non-plumber, the word ‘trap’ means nothing important. However, it is a piece of piping which is essential to the functionality of plumbing and household healthiness. The trap, which can be a P-Trap, U-Trap, or S-Trap (all shaped like their respective letters), prevents sewage gasses from seeping up the pipes and into the house. It does this by retaining a small seal of water inside of it even when the faucets aren’t in use — obstructing those noxious gasses from infiltrating the house. Here, there’s no seal between the drain and sewer lines, allowing some gross and invisible stuff into that guy’s house.

Poop and TV

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“Handy Man” doesn’t always imply knowledge, skill, or anything associated with a job well done. In fact, sometimes “handy man” means the opposite of all that. Especially in this case. This genius decided it would be a great idea to run the cables from the dish satellites on the roof through a ‘waste pipe’, down into the attic, out of a hole in the ‘waste pipe’ and then further down into the bedroom. Sure, it’s working well enough at the time this photograph was taken, but this disaster waiting to happen could easily cause slow plumbing drain, weird (and gross) odors, and water leaks.


  1. I’m not exactly sure whats so wrong with the pipe maze, that looks like a pretty standard pool setup in the south. Someone probably made it a little messier than usual but it is nice to see all of those valves.

    1. Haha Shawn, we haven’t bothered to unwind the set up, but even giving it a pretty long look you can see it’s a mess. This person was a “try” plumber. They “tried” a fitting here to see if it would work then “tried” another fitting and so on. Thanks for finding us and enjoy your stay.


  2. Hey Shawn, I’m in South Carolina and have an in-ground pool. The plumbing looks NOTHING like that. I imagine the person probably had the pool put in or set up, then added a saltwater chlorinator, then maybe added some solar panels or something and all the add-ons combined with DIY caused it to look like the mess that it is.

    1. I’ve seen so many of these DIY attempts go awry. Too many people read stuff online or read the directions on a package (or get advice from home depot sales associates) and then up screwed everything up in their house. Then they usually call contractors like us to come in and fix it so I guess it’s not too bad keeps the money rolling in…

  3. The purple water is likely from a manganese greensand filter with a seriously jacked-up valve. Potassium permanganate recharge is supposed to go to drain, not to the house supply.

  4. The “She wanted hot water, not boiling water.” is actually from poland. I recognize “ludwik” and “dosia” dish washing liquids and bottle from, i think, “olej kujawski” (cooking oil). I’m glad i don’t have to do this kind of stuff in my home 🙂

  5. I’m pretty much going to agree with Shawn on the pipe maze. There are a lot of pipes in the picture and it looks overwhelming, but that’s what it takes for optimum control and operation of that much equipment (SWG, blower, DE filter, filter baskets, pumps, backflow valves, actuated values…). Maybe it’s a bit dated, but I challenge those mocking the setup to show pictures of something more elegant that provides as much functionality for both a pool and spa.

  6. Re: “looks like a pretty standard setup” (Shawn Weeks) and “looks overwhelming, but that’s what it takes for optimum control and operation of that much equipment” (Scott) ~ I beg to differ…! I spent several years plumbing pool and spa “power-packs”, and I am here to tell you: that filter will RARELY get the cleaning it deserves! The owner will need to spread-eagle and hold a painful stance to get the job done, and he’ll be CURSING the whole time. I would always “Play Chess” with all the various components needed for a job (as long as necessary) until the most “straightforward-&-SERVICEABLE” arrangement fell into place. THEN, cut and glue. Just like that old adage, “measure thrice, cut once”…! Cheers~

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