One of the most common problems in any home is squeaky or loose floorboards. Often the aftermath of plumbing work. For a diy’er, the solution may seem simple, just put some screws/nails in the loose boarding. Do believe me here when I say, “You’re messing with your life!”, literally!! Let me illustrate why. I’ll likely need few words once you’ve seen the pictures below..
It’s fair to say that, yes, placing fixings in a loose floorboard, chipboard, plyboard etc to fix the squeak is the way to go. The problem is that most diy’ers I know, do just that without considering what lies beneath. We can surmise or assume that there are no dangers below the floorboards, but what twenty years in the floor installing trade has taught me is, you simply never know. Random electrical wires, gas pipes, and water pipes can spring up anywhere. In the strangest of places. Regardless of how clever you think you are, you can’t see through wood! Even nifty metal testing gadgets can throw you a curve ball. The only sure fire way to know what is beneath a wood sub-floor of any kind is to lift it up first. Trust your eyes before you trust an assumption or gadget.
Here we can see a pretty obvious patch in repair of chipboard. Pointing straight away to the potential for pipes or wires to be lurking. However, this diy’er didn’t think that checking was required before he went ahead and started to send screws through this squeaky chipboard..
Taking a closer look (the three small holes in the very center of the picture), he decided to place his screws exactly where anyone would expect. To the edges of the board. Perfect placement. You see, there’s a general rule of thumb in the construction industry. If you’re going to notch wires or pipes in the top of a joist, then it will be done in the middle of a floorboard. Powered with that knowledge, let’s crack on and assume we’re good to start screwing..
Can’t find a joist to fix too? Just carry on putting screws in. It’s like a fun game of Russian roulette. No need to check the chamber though, just get stuck in and pull the trigger!!
Ok, so this diy’er didn’t die. He did count his blessings though! Not before he carried on screwing and hit the adjacent water pipe in the bottom of this picture. Causing hundreds of pounds in repair work..
It’s fair to say electrical standards and safety has increased greatly over the years. Before anything happened if the wire had been screwed into, the fuse most likely would have blown and cut the power to the circuit.
Saying that, electrical injuries and fatalities still happen year on year in the home. Incorrect wiring, faulty electrics, an old electrical systems being amongst the reasons. To add, the surety of an increase in technology i.e. circuit breakers etc, absolutely should not be a reason to carry on and send screws through flooring willy nilly. For that matter, through any none transparent material without knowing what’s on the other side!
The last picture shows that the wire was actually punctured, but something made our client stop!
This article isn’t meant to demean diy’ers in any way. The sarcasm in some of the article is really designed to drive home just how easy accidents can happen to both diy’ers and tradesmen alike.
The scenario here was real. The consequences could have been even more real but luck was on his side. This was perhaps an instance that could have been easily avoided just by lifting the chipboard first. However, there are many situations where lifting the boards could have been more difficult but similar dangers lurk in less obvious places.
The main message here is to check before you start fixing. There are contraptions out there that actually promote this kind of mindless blind fixing of boards. DON’T do it! Common sense, as is always a running theme in this website, must always prevail. Be diligent! Don’t be lazy or hasty! Be SAFE!
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