Which Plumbing Problems Can I DIY and Which Should I Leave to Professionals?

November 13, 2023

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.”

Easy DIY Plumbing Jobs

• Unclogging Drains

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.

• Replacing Faucets

Installing a new faucet in the kitchen or bathroom is usually straightforward, provided you follow the manufacturer's instructions and have the necessary tools.

• Installing Showerheads

Replacing or upgrading a showerhead is a simple task that requires minimal tools and can make a noticeable difference in your shower experience.

• Fixing Leaky Faucets

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.

• Replacing Toilet Flappers

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.

Intensive Jobs

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:

1. Assess the Severity of the Issue

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.

2. Evaluate Your Skills and Experience

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.

3. Determine What Safety Concerns Exist

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.

4. Understand the Legal and Permit Requirements

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.

5. Confirm You Have the Right Tools and Equipment

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.

6. Assess Your Own Risk Tolerance

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.

7. Always Prioritize Safety and Health

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.

Leave to the Professionals

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 Heater Installation

Water heaters require proper installation to ensure safety and efficiency. Incorrect installation can lead to dangerous gas or electrical issues.

• Burst Pipe Repair

Dealing with a burst pipe can cause extensive water damage. Professionals can quickly identify and fix the problem.

• Sump Pump Installation

Installing or replacing a sump pump requires knowledge of drainage systems and electrical work.

• Leaking Water Main

Repairing a leaking water main requires digging and potentially working with municipal water lines. It's not a DIY task.

• Backflow Prevention Device Installation

Installing or servicing backflow prevention devices should be done by a certified plumber to prevent contamination of your water supply.

• Septic Tank Repairs

Handling septic tank repairs can expose you to hazardous waste. Leave this job to professionals.

• Complex Drain Cleaning

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.

• Shower Pan Replacement

Replacing a shower pan involves waterproofing and tile work that is best left to professionals.

If you have a plumbing job that needs to be handled by a professional (or you’d feel more comfortable leaving it up to a professional), know that we’re available 24 hours a day. Give our team at Donovan Waterworks a call at 410-240-5299.

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