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File:The three stooges a plumbing we will go 1 1047.jpg
We repair what your husband fixed.
—Sign seen on a plumbing truck.

Calvin: "La dee da da dee dee da da/I think I'll get a buck-et.../ Nothing's wrong...No need to panic/I just need a bucket to hold some...stuff...."

Calvin's parents: (simultaneously) "Your turn."

A leaky faucet is not only one of those annoying sounds that keeps you up at night, it also wastes water. However, since most people don't consider that a big enough emergency to call a plumber they will try to fix it themselves. Of course, Hilarity Ensues.

Common DIY Plumbing project hazards include:

  • Not having the right tools for the job.
  • Getting sprayed in the face because you forgot to turn off the main or didn't drain the pipes properly.
  • Not keeping track of which part goes where so you end up short or over when you put the faucet back together.
  • The family pet runs off with that one important piece and/or swallows it.
  • Hitting your head on the pipes when someone startles you.
  • Your precocious children learn new and interesting swear words.
  • Getting the electrical system mixed in with the plumbing (but only if you're a character in a slapstick comedy.)
  • Making the problem worse, so that by the time you finally give up and call the plumber, you end up paying way more than if you had relied on expert help to begin with.

Since this is Truth in Television, it's a staple of Sit Coms. A subtrope of Doom It Yourself. Can result in a DIY Disaster.

Can also result in extensive property damage and, in extreme cases, a trip to the ER. Or worse. Don't Try This At Home.


Comic Books

  • Being The Klutz, this happens a lot to the title character of Archie Comics. What starts as an annoying leak will often end with a flooded basement.


  • Disney's The Rescuers
  • The Three Stooges, in "A Plumbing We Will Go" pose as plumbers to escape the police and end up destroying the house, getting water in the electrical system, digging up the lawn, etc.
  • Brazil has the maliciously incompetent Dowser and Spoor and the competent freelance maverick Harry Tuttle.

Live Action TV

  • In the first season of Heroes, to help show that the people with powers were "ordinary people with extraordinary abilities" Matt Parkman fixes a broken bathroom sink. Really. Though by the end of the first season his character has become important to the main plot(s), many fans were not amused by this plot stop.
  • Perfect Strangers had a memorable episode, entitled "Pipe Dreams", where Jennifer asks Larry to let the plumber in while she and Mary Ann are away on a flight, so he can replace the showerhead. Larry agrees but then immediately calls to cancel the plumber -against Balki's advice- saying he will it do it himself, in order to impress Jennifer. After what Balki describes as "twenty-three hours of backbreaking labour" Balki and Larry turn on the new showerhead to test it: the showerhead flies off as a jet stream of water shoots out, the taps at the sink fly off the basin with their own water jets, the toilet erupts like Old Faithful and opening the cabinet results in a flood from the pipes. This episode was regarded by the cast, crew and fans as one of the funniest of the entire series.
  • A whole episode of The Golden Girls was devoted to them trying to renovate their own bathroom. One result is the shower turning on when they turned the tap over the handbasin.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: The family has a routine that involves precautions like a 3-minute shower limit for whenever Uncle Phil goes on one of these sprees, but eventually this time, Vivian has to resort to the Lysistrata Gambit to get him to call the plumber.
  • In one of the later seasons of Boy Meets World Corey and Topanga (now married) move into a tiny fleabag apartment with rusty pipes. This trope is averted as Corey is able to actually fix the pipes (even though he got hilariously wet and messy in the process.
  • In the aptly-named Buffy episode "Flooded," Buffy tightens a pipe with a wrench to stop a leak ... (pause for a moment) ... and then all the other pipes burst, effectively flooding the basement.
  • In the Frasier episode "Seat of Power," Martin makes fun of Frasier and Niles' lack of practical skills, so in an attempt to prove him wrong they try to fix Frasier's toilet, with foreseeable results. Even more Hilarity Ensues when they call in the plumbers, who turn out to be the bullies who tormented them in grade school.
  • Averted in the HGTV series Holmes on Homes. Mike only took on jobs that were screwed up by paid contractors.
    • Another HGTV show, Disaster DIY, has contractor Bryan Baeumler come in to fix DIY projects gone wrong.
  • Subverted on That 70s Show when Red and Eric try to fix the kitchen sink. Although they fail to fix the sink, they don't do any major damage and decide to just call a plumber to fix it.
  • Eric's World had a clever subversion when Eric and C.J. had to deal with a leaky faucet. Rather than try to fix it themselves, C.J. suggests they call a plumber. When Eric protests that it's the middle of the night and they won't be able to get a plumber this late, C.J. uses his trusty "Plumber's Signal" (essentially a Bat Signal with the image of a pipe wrench, rather than a bat) to call a plumber, who arrives less than ten seconds later.
  • One episode of Family Matters had Karl trying to install a second shower in the house. Before his wife got him to call a plumber, he had somehow gotten the bathroom set up so that you turn on the shower by turning off the sink.


 B-b-b-baby, I can tell you've got a big problem

When you flush the john, then your shower goes on

Newspaper Comics

  • Calvin and Hobbes: Calvin has tried to fix the bathroom faucet on one more than one occasion. It ended up flooding the house.
    • On another occasion, Calvin's dad prepares to do some plumbing, reading a book that advises him to have both the appropriate tools and expletives ready.
  • Garfield - Jon has also occasionally tried to fix a leaking faucet, with the expected results.

Western Animation

  • A running gag in Looney Tunes and its various Spiritual Successor series (such as Tiny Toon Adventures) is the constant losing battle one fights against that nagging, dripping faucet.
  • Similarly, Donald Duck has also fought his share of losing battles against the dreaded faucet.
  • The Popeye cartoon Plumbing is a Pipe has Popeye helping Olive fix her leaky plumbing when the plumber (Wimpy) takes too long to arrive. It goes as expected until Popeye eats his spinach and starts punching the gushing pipes so hard that they seal themselves, then lifts the house off its foundation and tips it over to pur the water out a window. Shortly afterward, Wimpy finally arrives and all the pipes burst open again.
    • In another Popeye cartoon, "Floor Flusher", Popeye and Bluto compete to fix Olive's plumbing but end up flooding her house.
    • Yet another cartoon, "Popeye's Pipe Dream" has Popeye's plumbing failure flooding an entire city, fortunately it was all a dream.
  • Parodied in The Simpsons episode "Dumbbell Indemnity", where Homer tries to fix the water heater... by beating it with a wrench until it explodes.
  • Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy do this to Johnny 2x4's kitchen sink in "Rent-A-Ed", after Ed breaks it while looking for some dish soap.
  • The entire premise of the Rocko's Modern Life episode "Pipe Dreams", in which Rocko and Heffer try everything they can think of to unclog a toilet. It turns out there's a giant goldfish living in the septic tank.
    • Also in "Dear John", where Rocko tries to fix the kitchen, and ends up making a bathroom instead because that's all the author of the manual knew how to do.
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