Having a do-it-yourself spirit can be a boon to any homeowner. Completing your own maintenance projects helps you get to know your home, learn new skills, and fix something without paying someone else. As most DIY-ers would let you know, however, there are some projects all homeowners need professional help with. One of the challenges of DIY is figuring out what those projects are, actually.
When it comes to plumbing DIY everyone has their own skill level. The first step to becoming a successful DIY plumber is figuring out where your skill level is. When should you “DIY” and when should you get in touch with the pros? We’d like to help you figure that out. Before you get started on your next plumbing project, review the following guidelines. These tips will help you figure out whether DIY is a good idea for your current project.
1. Be honest with yourself about your knowhow.
How much do you know about plumbing? How much do you know about your own plumbing system? Do you know where your main water shutoff is? Do you know where your home’s backflow valves are located? There is no shame in not knowing a lot about plumbing. Being a beginner also doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t try something yourself, and a simple DIY plumbing project is a great way to start learning. Ask yourself if you’ll be able to solve your problem quickly and without spending a lot of money.
Consider how you might react if something unexpected happens during your repair. If you break something, will you know what you’ve broken? Will you be able to un-break it? If you’re worried you might cause a bigger problem while you’re trying to fix a little one, you should call the pros. If you know exactly what you’re about to do, then you’re probably clear to proceed!
2. Take stock of your tools.
Do you have the right tools to tackle this job? Many plumbing fixes require special types of wrenches meant for pipe joints. In many cases, investing in these types of tools isn’t as financially sensible for many homeowners. You shouldn’t buy expensive tools unless you’re planning on using them quite a bit. Some of the tools might be difficult to find. Always research the tools needed before starting a new project. You really want to avoid finding out you need a tool you don’t have… while you’re in the middle of a project.
3. Consider the financial cost.
Most plumbing companies charge by the hour. The actual cost of any specific project will depend on its scope and any specialty materials required. Small projects that don’t require any special tools are probably cheaper to DIY. Larger, more specialized problems may not be. Consider the most cost-effective solution to your problem before proceeding.
4. Consider the opportunity cost.
We mean a couple things here. First, how long will it take for you to complete the project yourself? However long you think it’s going to take, multiply that by about 1.5 times. Will you have to go anywhere to get the parts you need? Do you know which parts you need? If you know exactly how long it will take and how to do it, DIY could be the right choice. If you don’t, then the project could be more time-consuming and frustrating than it’s worth.
The DIY Quick List
If you’re still not sure whether your plumbing project is DIY-appropriate, look for it on these lists. In general, some projects are basically always DIY-accessible, and some basically always require a pro’s assistance. Here are examples of each:
Always get a pro’s help for:
- Plumbing renovations during a remodel
- Pipe repair
- Installing irrigation systems
- Installing new appliances
- Water softener installation
- Cutting water flow to different sections of the home
- Clearing clogs
Consider the DIY approach for:
- Installing new hardware like a faucet or showerhead
- Thawing a frozen pipe
- Repairing toilet hardware like a loose lid or detached chain
Long story short: don’t DIY if you aren’t confident. If you have a plumbing issue and need help, you can always consult the pros at Ben Franklin Plumbing. We’re happy to give you whatever knowledge or help you need.