Before beginning any do-it-yourself projects or repairs, it is a good idea to review some plumbing safety basics. By following some basic safety methods and precautions, you can avoid injury and complete your projects successfully. These plumbing safety do’s and don’ts should be followed when doing any project, whether big or small.
- Be informed. Check the local building and plumbing codes and laws before starting a plumbing project. Know what work you can do yourself and what work will require a professional. Get a permit whenever it is required for your plumbing project.
- Protect your eyes. Wear safety glasses when doing any plumbing work, especially when doing anything that could potentially damage your eyes. Work such as snaking a drain, using a drill, using a reciprocating saw, hammering, or even working under a sink while looking up can pose a safety hazard for your eyes. Most tool manufacturers, in fact—both hand tools and power tools—specify the use of eye protection for any tool use. Small objects can fall down or fly up into your eye when least expected. Eyes are very sensitive and easily injured, so it is always a good practice to protect them.
- Protect your hands. Wear appropriate work gloves to protect your hands. Hands come into contact with many different materials and chemicals when doing plumbing projects, but using gloves is an easy way to prevent injuries. When using a drain machine of any sort, it is a good idea to wear latex gloves under leather gloves to protect you from the germs typically found in drain lines. Proper drain gloves will protect your hands from the snake, but it is a good habit to use latex or something similar for extra protection.
- Protect your lungs. Use a face mask when necessary to protect your lungs. When your project involves sawing or sanding, take the extra precaution of using a disposable face mask to prevent inhalation of dust particles.
- Be cautious. Exercise caution when using power tools and follow the recommended manufacturer suggestions for use. Many people are injured by not keeping two hands on the power tool and staying focused on the project. Be extra cautious when soldering or using any heat on pipes, especially on the wall or near any insulation.
- Have a helper. Having a spotter or helper will make completing your projects easier and safer. Running a drain machine can be difficult because in most cases you will have two hands on the cable—if you need to unplug the machine quickly, an extra hand is beneficial.
- Read labels. Always read labels and instructions when using chemicals or machines. Follow the recommendations for use at all times. Check the warning labels on products and equipment, and know what to do in case of an emergency.
- Work while impaired. Never work while you are overly tired, ill, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Impaired reflexes or lack of focus is a sure way to invite injury, especially when working with power tools. Wait until you can be fully focused and aware.
- Misuse tools or equipment. Use tools and equipment for their intended purpose only. The misuse of tools can result in injury and/or damage to the tool. Poorly maintained tools and equipment can also be a safety hazard. Check power tools and equipment before using them to ensure they are in good condition.
- Ignore safety codes. Plumbing and building safety codes are put in place for the protection of the public, so they should not be ignored.
- Carry tools in your pocket. Use a tool belt or a tool box to carry sharp or pointed tools around. A sharp tool in your pocket can cause an injury when you least expect it.
- Ignore the smell of gas. If you smell natural gas or suspect a gas leak stop what you are doing right away. If it is safe to do so, turn off the gas, and call your gas company. Don’t try to find the gas leak yourself.