Share your DIY horror stories

Ryan the Temp
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AG
I'll start with my wonderful world of tile.

My bathroom had this raunchy green ceramic tile - the kind you see on HGTV and yell, "WTF were they thinking?" I thought it would be good to rip the tile out and put something classic and timeless in. I decided on a nice white and black basketweave - totally gorgeous, imo.

The tile comes on .9 SF sheets that are webbed together. There were some areas along the side of the room that needed to be cut, so I measured everything out, marked the tile, went out to the tile saw and got busy.

And then it happened.

What I failed to realize was the adhesive used to attach the tiles to the webbing is water-based - I was using a wet saw. As I picked up the sheets of tile, they basically disintegrated into piles of loose tiles. Needless to say, I laid about 50% of my bathroom by hand as individual tiles.

What should have been maybe a 2 hour job turned into 7 hours, but at least I'm happy with it.

Here are some pics to put it into perspective:

A close up (the black tiles are 1/2" square)



The whole thing (or most of it at least)



Moral of the story - when working with tile sheets, separate and remove the individual tiles you need to cut.
YouBet
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AG
About 2 years ago my wife and I had an all-day house project list. One of those items was to replace the faucet set in an upstairs bathroom. You see where this is going.....

For whatever reason the previous owners had boarded up the inside of the back wall of the lavatory so that the water valve was inaccessible. I guess I was tired and because it was "out of sight, out of mind" I proceeded to unscrew the water lines in order to remove the faucet set.

As I was unscrewing one of the hoses, a voice in my head was screaming, "You're missing something! You're missing something!". As I pulled the hose out, scalding hot water erupted like a damn fire hydrant (naturally I had picked the hot water) and proceeded to fill the upstairs bedroom with a couple of inches of water.

I completely panicked and not having any acces to the local water control for that sink I ran outside searching for the main water valve. I stupidly had not ever attempted to locate it before doing this job. I later found it in the alley behind our house.

Anyway, I had to let the hot water run out before I could get back under there and force the hose back in (about 6-7 minutes but the longest 6-7 minutes of my life).

During this 6-7 minutes, water is pouring out of can lights downstairs and wife is having to put pots and pans out to catch water. The ceiling is literally sagging in the hallway. Lights are popping and dying. I sat on the stairs and my wife didn't even get mad at me because I was so upset from my own stupidity and embarrassment. It was the closest I've come since I was a kid to literally crying and she could see that.

It was like the scene of some movie where the character is sitting in complete despair while complete and utter chaos is going on all around him. Grace under pressure, I was not.

$2000 later in repairs and paint, we have a new faucet set and I'm no longer allowed to do plumbing.
RoperJoe02
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I have a toilet that "rocks" in the guest bathroom. A few weeks ago, I got pissed and decided it was time to fix it. I pulled it up, replaced the bolts and the wax ring, and when setting it up it slipped from my paws.....and of course it cracked. A couple hundred bucks later and a new toilet, and it still rocks. Turns out the floor is just not level and $2 worth of shims and caulk later we are good to go.
Last week, I decided to replace a leaky hose bibb on my exterior that of course was pissing me off. Little did I know that the genius that put in the plumbing did not strap or secure any of the horizontals between the studs (which explains some of my water hammer). So, after I got the new hose bibb installed, checked for leaks on the outside, and went to bed, I woke up to find water leaking....on the inside of the house. One flooded dining room and a repaired water line later good to go. Turns out I torqued, weakened, and eventually busted the copper in the wall since it was not secured. Luckily I was in the process of having siding replaced so it was no big deal to tear up the exterior to get to the leak.

I told my wife after this, that from now on I only fix things that are completely broken or unoperable....unless it pisses me off.
tinker35
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I was in the process of adding some radiant barrier in my house. I thought I had my hand on one the the rafters (the radiant barrier covers the rafters as you install it) and you guessed it my hand was nowhere near a rafter. I ended up going through the ceiling into my hallway, catching the 2x6 supports with my armpits just long enough to bruise and then fall the rest of the way onto ceramic floor. More embarrassment than anything.
Mom Class of '03,'05 and '09
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S
We had a 10mo daughter and a second baby on the way...first hot day of the year, death in the family, other family enroute to Waco....got a $400 electric bill and this was 1982! Hot water line in the slab had cracked open a joint and micro leak kept the heater running but not wetting the slab enough to find water damage. We got estimates and lowest ballpark was over $2000 so we/hubby decided he would do this himself!

Re-plumbed hot line from behind heater to opposite end of house through the attic. Heater developed a leak during the move out of closet and back in. Had to resort to stuffing bread into line behind washer at new cut off valves. Got unbearably hot and turned on AC as soon as we could close up the attic openings and found out AC was out. Family arrived, we left for funeral. Came back and proceeded to wash up bedding from family and washer pump went out WHILE STILL FULL OF WATER. Next evening hubby has everything plumbed, new water heater installed....all he had to do was put up new drywall in our bedroom and I could paint and call it done....he nailed the drywall into the new copper tubing and water soaked our room while he was running outside to the cut off at the street.

I sat down and cried and he came in and sat down with me and said, I want to cry too but I am too tired to make tears!

It cost $200 to do the entire project including a propane torch, pipe cutter, flux/solder and copper tubing and joints....and a new washer pump and new water heater! It truly was the worst 4 days of our lives.
Max06
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AG
^ Holy cow, that takes the cake.
superspeck
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Wow, Mom, that's pretty horrible.

You see some pretty good stuff on "Renovation Realities", "DIY Disasters", "Holmes on Homes" and a few of the other "how not to do it" shows between HGTV and DIY Network.
Ryan the Temp
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AG
Those shows are definitely the worst of the worst.

As I've spent the last 4 years working on my 74 year old house I've had my share of mini disaters, like having to crawl around under the house in a lake of sewage (oh look, turds - YAY!), but it amazes me at how much stuff had been done to it in the past that was half-assed or just wrong. It seems like every time I do a project it's pulling a thread that leads to more, more, more work.

Take your time and do things right. There was no reason I should have had to remove 7 layers of flooring from my kitchen or 6 layers of shingles from the roof other than multiple people over the years being lazy and stupid.
Throwout
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AG
This happened when I was a kid, but I still remember it vividly--it's not exactly a DIY nightmare, but it involved a lot of DIY nightmares afterwards. The weekend before leaving on our two-week summer vacation, my Dad installed a new washer and dryer that he had bought for my Mom. Rather than using the new hoses that came with the new washer and dryer, he used the old hoses because according to him, "these are quality made parts--they'll last a lot longer than those cheap ones that came with the machine." I think you guys can probably see where this is going.

We were living in rural SE Missouri at the time (no neighbors nearby) and we loaded up the family station wagon and took off to Oregon to see my grandparents. My Dad worked for the National Park Service and we always had to drive for our vacations so we could see as many National Parks as my Dad could find along the way.

At some point during the vacation, one of those "quality made" hoses split and began spraying water everywhere in the downstairs of our home. We're still not sure how long it was leaking before we got home, but when we did arrive back at the house after vacation, water was running out of every door on the downstairs floor including the garage door.

The worst part of it all was that the leak was spraying vertically, so it was slowly soaking the upstairs floor as well as filling up the downstairs floor. When we got home, I just remember my Dad yelling and running towards the house without turning off the car. It was a standard and in neutral, so we started rolling backwards down the driveway before eventually coming to a stop once we hit a tree. Dad opened the garage door and it was like one of those "Have you been drinking Sir" commercials as the water started pouring out.

From what I recall, we essentially had to throw out everything. The downstairs living room was full of floor to ceiling books on shelves that basically acted like sponges and wicked the water up the walls to the above floors as well. The water was in there so long it basically soaked up through the studs and drywall all the way into the attic where it soaked the insulation as well. My Dad is a HUGE DIYer and he and a couple of other guys essentially had to gut the entire house, let it dry out and then had to re-do everything.

Obviously, the moral of the story to this is to turn off the water at the valves to your W&D before leaving on vacation--and don't necessarily assume that the older parts will work better for the newer parts. Additionally, have a neighbor drive by your house while you're on vacation to make sure that everything looks o.k. We were a couple of miles from our nearest neighbor, so it's not like someone living next door would have seen the water running out of the house. If we did have somebody drive by, they would have easily seen what was happening and hopefully been able to prevent a lot of damage. When it was all finished, I remember my Dad telling my Mom that if he had it to do all over again, he would have just kept on driving past our house and started looking for houses that were For Sale...
Erac_AG
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AG
Similar to above. I bought a W/D set from a friend for my apartment. The washer dischage hose popped out of the standpipe and emptied an entire washer full of soapy water onto my bathroom floor. I went looking for my towels to begin soaking up water when I realized all of my towels are in the washing machine.

I pulled the damp towels out and soaked up as much as I could, then threw all the towels into the tub so I could stomp on them to get water out. Repeat.

The biggest DIY/problem solving came from fixing the flooded carpet in my bedroom. I didn't want to pay someone to come out, so I soaked up as much as I could from the carpet, then pulled it back. I cut out the saturated portion of the carpet pad and took it outside to airdry over the bicycle rack. When I was mostly dry I rolled it up best I could and threw it in the dryer. Once complete, I returned to pad and folded the carpet back over well enough to get my deposit back.
tifire85
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I used to work for a home repair organization that helped homeowners fix house problems that they couldn't afford to pay someone to fix on their own, usually it was people on SS or disability. One of our clients had paid some random guy $500 to fix a leak in her roof but it was leaking even worse than before. We went on the roof to investigate and I kid you not...the guy had installed the new shingles backwards. Instead of starting at the bottom and layering them on top of the other so rain could trickle down onto the next one and off the roof, there was a five-foot section where he inexplicably ran the higher shingles running underneath the ones below so water was just pouring into her house.
Builder93
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AG
Not exactly DIY since this is what I do, but when I was first starting out I was doing a job adding a wet bar in a friends' grandparents house and had the plumber come on Friday to rough in the sink. I get an irate call on Saturday from the home owner because their kitchen and living room were flooded when they came home after being being gone for about 5 hours. First assumption: plumber screwed up. No. Turned out their washing machine hose picked the perfect time to burst. Who knows how long it ran that day. I felt for them but was relieved for me.
Mom Class of '03,'05 and '09
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S
another tidbit...the old style guts to a toilet tank gave way at my inlaws home and caused the tank to completely fill, then spill over continuously until the shut off valve was closed. The water ran for about three hours and filled their adjacent bedroom. That room had 100% wool carpeting they had bought in England and brought back with them and you talk about an odor, it was nauseating and weighed three tons when soaked!

To make matters worse he stored all of his hunting rifles and shotguns under their bed in canvas, padded cases!!!

Some of us were ripping up carpet, some were vacuuming with the shop vac and some were cleaning/drying guns...it was hell for a couple of hours!
B/CS Dreaming
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AG
Throwout FTW! I literally laughed out loud about the part where the car backed into the tree. What a nightmare for your parents!
nai06
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AG
not really a nightmare, just a big hassle for me.

I've been trying to intall new interior doors in my house for several months now. I work on it when I can on the weekends. I have 12 doors im trying to replace on a 1980 house.

My dad and I got all the doors and starting routing them and cutting to the right size. After about 5 doors we started to actually install them. Not a single one fit. for the life of me I could figure out why. After some investigation we realized none of the old doors were square. The previous owners had foundation problems and instead of getting it fixed they just started shaving the doors down till they started to close all the way. The foundation has now been fixed but I was left with mishapen doors and door frames.

So now I have 12 doors and doorframes to install and I already trashed 5 doors.
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