No matter how much care you take with your home, plumbing problems are bound to happen sooner or later, and when they do, you’ll find yourself faced with a crucial question: Do I attempt to DIY a solution, or is this something where I need to call a professional?
Of course, a professional is always the safest option. If you’re ever not sure of what you’re doing, it’s wisest to leave the job up to somebody who does. That said, there are many jobs around the house that even a plumber will tell you, “You could have done this yourself.”
Most minor clogs in sinks, showers, and toilets can be cleared with a plunger or a drain snake. These tools are readily available at hardware stores.
Installing a new faucet in the kitchen or bathroom is usually straightforward, provided you follow the manufacturer's instructions and have the necessary tools.
Replacing or upgrading a showerhead is a simple task that requires minimal tools and can make a noticeable difference in your shower experience.
If you have a dripping faucet, you can often replace a worn-out washer, O-ring, or cartridge yourself. Just turn off the water supply before starting.
When a toilet continually runs, a faulty flapper is often the culprit. Replacing the flapper is an easy and cost-effective fix.
This all depends on your comfort level and your confidence in your own abilities. There’s nothing wrong with hiring a plumber to handle any of the above jobs, and for some homeowners, that’s the smartest choice.
For more intensive jobs, you should stop and assess before trying to do anything yourself. If you’re thinking about trying to DIY a plumbing job, take the following steps first:
Some plumbing problems are more severe than others. As we said, simple problems like a dripping faucet, a running toilet, or a loose pipe joint can often be fixed by you as the homeowner. On the other hand, a major issue, such as something involving a burst pipe, a major leak, sewage backup, or a sudden loss of water pressure, is when it’s typically best to call a professional immediately.
Consider your level of plumbing knowledge and experience, and be honest with yourself. If you have successfully completed similar plumbing tasks in the past, you may feel more confident tackling certain repairs. If the repair involves complex systems, specialized tools, or intricate plumbing work, it's generally safer to leave it to a professional.
Projects involving gas lines or electrical components aren’t something you want to mess with, as these could result in dangerous situations if done improperly.
Some plumbing repairs may require permits or compliance with local building codes. Always check your local regulations, and if necessary, hire a licensed plumber who can handle the necessary paperwork.
Consider whether you have access to the appropriate tools and equipment required for the repair. Some tasks may require specialized tools that you don't own.
If you're unsure about a repair or uncomfortable with the potential consequences of a mistake, it's better to hire a professional for peace of mind.
When in doubt, prioritize safety and health. Plumbing issues can lead to water damage, mold growth, and health hazards if not properly addressed. Err on the side of caution and seek professional help if you have any concerns.
With all of that in mind, there are still some jobs that you should always, always, always leave up to a professional plumber to avoid further problems in the future. If you need any of the following jobs done, we strongly discourage you from trying to DIY any of them yourself:
Water heaters require proper installation to ensure safety and efficiency. Incorrect installation can lead to dangerous gas or electrical issues.
Dealing with a burst pipe can cause extensive water damage. Professionals can quickly identify and fix the problem.
Installing or replacing a sump pump requires knowledge of drainage systems and electrical work.
Repairing a leaking water main requires digging and potentially working with municipal water lines. It's not a DIY task.
Installing or servicing backflow prevention devices should be done by a certified plumber to prevent contamination of your water supply.
Handling septic tank repairs can expose you to hazardous waste. Leave this job to professionals.
While minor clogs can be DIY if you have persistent or deep-seated blockages, it's best to call a plumber to avoid damaging pipes.
Replacing a shower pan involves waterproofing and tile work that is best left to professionals.