xandr pixel
Skip to main content

When To DIY and When To Call A Professional Plumber

Let’s explore common plumbing projects that homeowners can confidently tackle, provide insights into the essential tools needed, and discuss critical DIY mistakes to avoid.

When dealing with plumbing issues or embarking on renovation projects, homeowners have to decide whether or not they want professional help with their home’s plumbing system. DIY plumbing projects can quickly go awry, thus making things significantly more expensive.

5 Plumbing problems that are NOT DIY

  1. Frozen Pipes – Frozen pipes can cause your pipes to expand and burst, which can lead to flooding. Contact a licensed plumber like Plumb Pro+ to handle the thawing process.
  2. Leaking Pipes – Typically this is more than a simple fix. Repairing leaking pipes could mean tearing through walls, floors, or ceilings. A welding torch may be required for these necessary repairs. You’ll need a pro for this to prevent damage to your home and damage to your person.
  3. Severely Clogged Toilets & Drains – Plungers can do more harm than good. Foreign objects like wipes, too much tissue, etc. If the clog doesn’t rectify quickly or easily, call a pro.
  4. Water Heater Trouble – Water heaters contain sensitive materials along with electrical components and heating elements. To avoid the risk of burns, explosions and chemical reactions, call a pro.
  5. Low Water Pressure – Rectifying low water pressure involves more than using a plunger a few times. Locating the root of the cause is essential before multiple pipes burst and flooding occurs.

DIY Red Flags

First and foremost, if you encounter a problem that involves the main water lines, gas lines, or sewer lines, it’s wise to step back. Mistakes here can lead to significant issues like major leaks or backups, which are not only inconvenient but also potentially health hazards.

While it may be easy to deal with a single clogged drain, if your home has multiple slow-draining sinks, tubs, or toilets, you may have a bigger problem on your hands. Plumbing systems with significant water pressure issues may also require more than a basic fix.

Additionally, if your plumbing repairs involve extensive alterations to your existing plumbing system—such as moving pipes, installing new fixtures in different locations, or repairing multiple faulty components throughout your home—these are usually tasks best left to professionals.

5 Plumbing Problems That May Be DIY

  1. Installing/Replacing Certain Plumbing Fixtures – Most homeowners should be able to install new plumbing fixtures or replace old ones that are damaged or old. Using basic tools, you should be able to effectively:
    • Replace faucet washers or cartridges
    • Replace showerheads
    • Install a new toilet seat
    • Hook up new appliances
    • Replace hose bibbs
  2. Unclogging Shower Drains of Hair – You should also be able to fix clogged drains within your home by using needle-nose pliers or natural solutions like baking soda and vinegar.
  3. Fixing Running Toilets – Toilets may run more than they should due to a faulty flapper or float inside the tank. Toilet replacement parts are easy to find and often come with easy-to-follow instructions.
  4. Adjusting Water Heater Temperature – If you can follow basic safety precautions, you should be able to adjust the temperature on your water heater, which can improve your home’s energy efficiency and also increase comfort.
  5. Repairing Leaky Faucets – A dripping faucet can not only be an annoyance, but it can also be a waste of water. Leaky faucets can normally be fixed with basic tools and a basic understanding of how they work.

Before You Decide

There are many stories out there about someone who decided to save money on plumbing repairs by doing it themselves, who ran into trouble and ended spending far more than they would have had if they hired a plumber in the first place. A few examples from around the Internet suggest these disasters are common. Searching on YouTube brings up over 2,000 videos about DIY plumbing disasters, for instance.

Flooding can be a problem, but more often homeowners run into unexpected complications and find they can’t turn the water back on, or they damage parts with improper tool use, or they uncover additional problems that are beyond their ability to handle.

Even if a project goes smoothly, the savings may not be as great as anticipated. While often general tools may be used, some specialized plumbing tools must be factored into the cost of the job. Also, the time of the homeowner is not exactly free. Whatever hourly rate the homeowner would charge for that free time should be compared against the cost of hiring someone to do it. For complex jobs, the inexperienced homeowner may spend much more time accomplishing the same task as the knowledgeable plumber.

There can also be legal issues. Many plumbing projects require permits, the exact rules vary by state and municipality. Repairs are usually safe, but making major changes will probably require permits. Your plumber will know when permitting is required.

A good plumber will notice other issues that need attention as well. Plumb Pro+ provides a free plumbing inspection with every repair. This can give you peace of mind and possibly save you money in the future.

Before You Begin

If you are still convinced you would like to tackle a plumbing project on your own, there are a few things you should do to get ready.

Make sure you know all the places to turn the water off and on. You should be able to isolate the project, of course, but also know where to turn off the water for the whole house, if necessary.

Have a good general knowledge of how your system works as a whole. If everything goes right, you may only need to understand the system you are working on. But if there is a problem, you can handle it better if you understand the whole picture.

Put together a complete basic toolkit. Having the right tools on hand makes things go more smoothly, and it reduces the chances of damaging parts and components when trying to force things.

A typical homeowner plumbing toolkit should include:

  • Channellock plyers, both 10 inch and 12 inch.
  • Basin wrench. A wrench with a swivel jaw can get those hard-to-reach nuts.
  • Pipe wrench. The big wrench that says ¨plumber¨ You should get two, a 10-inch and a 14-inch model.
  • Adjustable wrench, at least two: 6-inch and 10-inch. Locking pliers are a common alternative.
  • Needle nosed pliers
  • Hacksaw, with extra blades
  • Metal files, both a half-round and a rat-tail file.
  • Tubing Cutter: the best tool for cutting pipe.
  • Plunger. The most basic tool for clearing drains.
  • Plumber’s snake. A long flexible cable is used to clear drains when the plunger fails.
  • Plumbers tape, or Teflon tape.
  • Plumbers putty is used to seal unpressurized joints.
  • Caulk and caulk gun.

No matter how good a DIY plumber you are, even the best-planned project can run into unexpected snags, and once you start taking things apart, you can’t be sure everything will go back together properly. Having a backup plan makes sense.

If you have a plumbing issue you simply cannot fix, don’t hesitate to call the PROS at Plumb Pro!