Don’t Get Plumbing Parts Online

plastic plumbing parts online

image attribution:

Online shopping can be fun. You can see lots of information about products, see design ideas you love, and build a cart that matches your budget. However, there are some traps to watch out for when purchasing plumbing parts online and we want to explain those now. 

We are not saying you can *never* buy plumbing parts online, it’s just that you need to be aware of certain things to watch for. 

What to Watch Out for When Buying Plumbing Parts Online

Overseas Sellers 

The US has a plumbing code that is different than other countries and buying parts online might mean you are having to do costly conversions to get those fixtures to work. Often these changes make the installation impossible or ridiculously expensive.  

One example we dealt with recently is when a homeowner contacted us to clear a drain line in her free standing tub. She purchased it online because it had a beautiful design she loved. In tubs and showers, there is a p-trap that allows for proper drainage, but in this case, the tub had a drain in the middle, but had no p-trap. 

Instead of the standard underground drain line, this tub relied on a tube and small holding tank (like a plastic version of an illegal drum trap). The only way to clear the clog was to remove the tub and clear the hair from the tube. A chemical product like Drain-O would very likely damage the tube, as would a simple hair barb stick because the tube and holding tank wasn’t made of very high-quality plastic and really wasn’t designed to solid plumbing standards. 

Just like a cheap t-shirt destroyed the first time its washed, this homeowner was stuck with, ultimately, a short-lived bathtub. 

Poor Quality 

When an item number is matched identically (what you see in the store is exactly the same as what’s online), it should be the same product. Unfortunately, some online retailers are reselling refurbished (used) parts, counterfeit parts, or swapping what looks like the same item with a poorer quality item (ie. instead of metal, plastic). 

In one scenario a commenter named HB in this Houzz article about online plumbing fixtures posted that they ordered two of the same item and they weren’t the same, leading to a nightmare of a return to get it corrected. 

Warranty Issues 

It is a standard practice in plumbing that if a customer supplies the part, the plumber doesn’t warranty the part. This is one-way customers can save money because plumbers do markup supplies (just like any business does).  

If the product carries its own warranty and you are willing to take responsibility for it, this is a great option, but with online parts, this may not be the case. An example we have on this is that we went to a customer’s home who had purchased a toilet online because it had a style that matched his overall design. It was a smooth side toilet that he had installed about 4 years before, when he did the remodel to his home. 

We arrived to address the leak at the base and when we pulled the toilet saw that the wax ring seal had failed, allowing water damage over the course of four years that destroyed the subfloor. The original installer found a way to attach the toilet, and it worked for 4 years, but when it was time to do the repair, the entire subfloor and flange had to be redone. What normally would have been a $200 job, turned into a $2,000 job. 

Our suggestion here is that if you do purchase plumbing parts online, you buy directly from the manufacturer and check their customer service and return policies. Use the internet to do research and then talk to your plumber about the fixtures you want and their warranties. This way you can save money and get the right parts for the job. 


Have questions? We are always happy to help. Give us a call today for questions or to schedule a plumbing fixture installation at 303-571-5114. 


How to Plumbing FAILS! – Should you try your own sewer cleaning?

Ok, so tons of people every day are looking for ways to save money on their Do-It-Yourself Home Projects.

And, I think there are lots of very valid things you can do.

However, there are some you should not because:

1. You frankly just have no clue and no amount of YouTube How To Plumbing Videos are going to help you

2. Some things really do require professionals due to codes and permits and that pesky thing called “law”

3. It is easier and even cheaper to hire someone

For more on this, see my blog titled, “DIY Plumbing” which goes into more detail of the things that are appropriate and NOT appropriate in How To Plumbing, Do It Yourself Projects.

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!

So, instead of installing a drain pipe, the toilet bowl (which, yes, leads to a perfectly good drain), is acting as the p-trap for this wash basin. I mean, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Who cares it’s ugly, marginally functional and inconvenient… it’s more inconvenient to pull the dang thing and actually pipe it… stupid basin!

Before you consider watching a How to Plumbing Video

Before even typing How to Plumbing into the search bar

Before trying to do it yourself, ask yourself,

And more important, answer honestly:

When do I know it is time to call a professional?



Do you have any stories or pictures of your own that were complete How to Plumbing fails?

We would LOVE to see them and HEAR the stories! Thanks for sharing!

Why to hire a professional for water heater install

I recently watched an episode of Myth Busters where they dealt with an issue of a water heater exploding in a house. Water heater replacement isn’t the cheapest home investment, and some homeowners choose the less expensive option of DIY. Although you may be able to get a budget friendly water heater at a home improvement/ hardware store, most plumbing companies won’t warranty parts they don’t supply. Also, unless you purchase the high-end units at those stores, you can expect it to not last as long as the water heaters that the professional plumbers will have access to. And, as you can see in the video, proper installation is critical. We always recommend a professional when it’s time for a new water heater.