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"When I flush the john, then your shower goes on!"
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "The Plumbing Song"

A DIY Disaster is when a device's faulty nature is shown by the fact that when a button is pushed or a lever is pulled that is supposed to do one thing, it does something else that a different button or lever is supposed to do, such as a car's window button activates the windshield wipers. It's frequently used after someone has tried to repair or modify the device in question to show their mechanical ineptitude. In spite of the name, this doesn't need to be the result of a botched do-it-yourself job; the device could be wired that way on purpose, for example. There's also a variation where the electricity and plumbing (and sometimes the gas) get mixed up, so you get water coming out of the lightbulbs or some similar mix-up. Doesn't make the slightest bit of sense, but Rule of Funny applies.

Not to be confused with What Does This Button Do?, where a person's inexperience with the device in question, rather than the device's faulty nature, causes the unexpected result. If a person doesn't know what a button does and presses it anyways, something unexpected happens, and Hilarity Ensues, it's What Does This Button Do?. If the button is supposed to do one thing, but when pressed, does another, it's a DIY Disaster.

Though a DIY Disaster can be an Epic Fail, an Epic Fail that results from a do-it-yourself project is not necessarily a DIY disaster. If a person presses a button and something completely unexpected happens that shouldn't have happened at all, it's an Epic Fail. If a person presses a button and something happens that's supposed to happen when they push a different button, it's DIY Disaster.

Similar to Wiper Start, although a DIY Disaster is the result of the design of the car, not the incompetence of its operator. One of the worst results that can come about from Doom It Yourself or a Do It Yourself Plumbing Project. Almost always Played for Laughs.

Examples of DIY Disaster include:


  • In Eppo, an old Dutch comic, the eponymous character once switched the gas- and water pipes in a Do It Yourself Plumbing Project. Cue water streaming out of the heating part of his boiler and the shower turning into an impromptu flamethrower.
  • Gaston Lagaffe meddled with the office building's plumbing once, causing water to spray from Mr. Boulier's heater. On other occasions he turned a fridge into a pressure cooker, made a motorcycle ride in reverse and switched around all the keys on a typewriter.
    • An earlier attempt to inspect the fire extinguishers in the building resulted in him setting them on fire. All of them. The whole event is explained after the fact by Fantasio, so we don't see what happened.
  • In one Donald Duck comic, the nephews cause the Duckburg supercomputer to go haywire, resulting in this kind of weirdness happening all over town: radio songs come from toilets, TV sets flood, etcetera.


  • In Big Fat Liar, the protagonists purposely wire Marty Wolf's car to do this, with the brake making the car horn go off, and a lot of other stuff.
  • Man With One Red Shoe: agents bugging Tom Hanks' hotel room have to make hasty exit. Jim Belushi, having to use his bathroom, discovers that flushing the toilet causes faucet to run, etc.


  • In Discworld, Bloody Stupid Johnson's attempt at a housing complex turned into a four-dimensions nightmare, and his mail-sorting machine was some sort of black-hole-matter-shredder thing, mainly because he thought it would be less trouble to try and include a wheel with pi of exactly three... and succeeded.
  • Jack Prelutsky's poem "I Wish My Father Wouldn't Try to Fix Things". The poem describes a long list of ill-fated home repair projects, then ends with the stanza:

 I wish my father wouldn't try to fix things anymore,

for everything he's mended is more broken than before.

If my father finally fixes every item on his list,

we'll be living in the garden, for the house will not exist.


Live Action TV

  • On The Brady Bunch, Greg bought a used car and tried to fix it up, part of the result of which was faulty wiring. The horn made the windshield wipers work, for example.
  • Family Matters centered an episode around a do-it-yourself home bathroom repair idea. Naturally, the toilet flusher ends up turning on the shower, the sink ends up turning on the bathtub, the bathtub ends up turning on the sink, etc.
    • Everything Carl does kind of turns up this way, doesn't it? It becomes something of a Running Gag.
  • Friends had an episode subplot that revolved entirely around Monica's frantic search to find out what a power switch did, digging up walls and the floor in the process. In The Stinger, it turned out that it turned on and off the television set in the other apartment, and it turning on and off corresponded perfectly to Phoebe's blinking, leading her to claim she had 'special powers'.
  • In The Golden Girls, when Dorothy and Rose try to fix their bathroom themselves, their first attempt leads to them redoing the plumbing such that flushing the toilet makes the sink run, the spigots on the sink control the shower, etc.
  • Maxwell Smart would have cars with crossed wiring, so a button meant to operate one thing instead operated another. His apartment was also crosswired that way. Oddly, this is not necessarily another instance of his incompetence; he at least knew how the crosswiring worked. As it made for an effective security measure, he may have even done so on purpose. At the very least, he could exploit it.
  • On an episode of That's So Raven, a very prominent business man is to visit Victor's restaurant. Victor creates a Foreman grill-type device that both "grills and chills." He demonstrated his creation by having it grill a steak and chill some jumbo shrimp. However, he crossed a few wires and instead, the grill flash freezes the steak, and the chiller turns the shrimp into charred lump with tails.
  • The Three Stooges had an episode where they were plumbers, but their services left water coming out of everything but the faucets.
  • Most of the humor on The Red Green Show is derived from this sort of thing.
  • One episode of Sports Night features Jeremy's decision to personally Y 2 K-proof the studio. After getting everybody's cooperation in staging a mockup show to demonstrate his work, he apparently manages to blow out everything electronic in the studio, shortly before the live airing of the real show. This leads to the rest of the cast scrambling to do the show from a different and disliked studio while Jeremy suffers a Heroic BSOD. At the end of the show he was finally informed that last night after he'd left the electricians had done some work behind a console without relabeling the buttons... so that instead of starting the test, he'd hit the main power switch.
  • There was a Hannah Montana episode that centered around this. The kitchen sink led to one of the upstairs bathrooms, resulting in what Billy Ray Cyrus called a "Mushu-y Shampoo-y", and other complications when Jackson had tackled the aforementioned sink. In the end, though, it turns out that his dinking around saved their house.
  • Subverted in an episode of The George Lopez Show. George tries to demonstrate that his kitchen sink repair worked, and the entire kitchen begins rumbling. It's quickly revealed that the rumble is being caused by an actual earthquake.
  • On Pixelface, Romford's attempt to 'upgrade' the kettle somehow results in the toaster launching Projectile Toast at Alexia.


Web Comics

Western Animation

  • Subverted/played for laughs in The Emperor's New Groove when Kronk pulls the lever that was supposed to take him and Yzma to the "secret lab," but instead opens a trap door that causes Yzma to fall into a crocodile-filled moat. It's subverted when you consider the fact that that particular lever really is supposed to do that.
    • "Why do we even HAVE that lever?"
  • Inspector Gadget does this with voice activation. "Go Go Gadget balloon! No, not pontoon, balloon!"
  • In one episode of King of the Hill, Bill's kitchen is one of these. Flipping the light switch, for example, causes the microwave to start. This inspires Hank to do something similar with his own kitchen to discourage a pair of Hipsters from buying his house, which Peggy had accidentally sold.

Real Life

  • In a rather somber example, a hospital, due to a construction mistake, ended up having oxygen in the nitrous oxide line and nitrous oxide in the oxygen line. Death and lawsuits ensued.
  • In the book We Almost Lost Detroit, the many hilarious hijinks involving the Fermi Nuclear Power Plant are detailed. One of which includes the fact that right before it opened, someone had noticed that the pipes to the drinking fountain apparently originated from the area that was responsible for storing the coolant water.
  • Averted by the Manhattan Project where people working on the atomic bombs claim to have had dreams of wires being crossed prior to completion only to show up the next day and find out the wires really were crossed and fixing them. The first test of the atomic bomb, called Trinity, worked flawlessly.