There is much to admire about the DIY spirit. Do-it-yourselfers tend to be determined, can-do people who embrace a challenge. They also tend to be self-assured, which is another admirable quality – until their pride interferes and prompts them to forge ahead when they should call it quits.
Admittedly, calling it quits is probably anathema to most do-it-yourselfers. So if you can relate to this notion, too, do yourself the biggest favor of all and simply don’t begin certain home repair projects in the first place. No matter how confident you might feel, five types of home repairs are best left to the specialists. If you shudder at the thought, at least consider why it pays to play it safe.
Types of repairs a confident DIYer might handle: Changing light switches, installing dimmer switches, upgrading existing devices and fixtures (as long as you remember to turn off the electricity first) and repairing plugs.
Reasons to leave other, more complicated repairs to the experts: Electrical shock and fire are the two biggest hazards that do-it-yourselfers face, even when they’re careful. Then there’s that “lightweight” document known as the National Electrical Code, which sets standards for electrical safety procedures. This document explains why you should leave these projects to a licensed electrician:
- Breaker repairs
- Electrical panel upgrades
- Electrical outlet upgrades
- Extending or replacing circuits
- Installation and rewiring of electrical systems
- Installation of GFCI outlets
- Installation of indoor and outdoor lighting, including motion sensors
- Overloaded circuits that repeatedly trip
Minor repairs a confident DIYer might be able to handle: Replacing faucets and shower heads, installing toilets, hooking up sinks and washing machines.
Reasons to leave other, more complicated repairs to the experts: Nearly as specialized and dangerous as electrical repairs, plumbing repairs can quickly go awry. One persistent leak can cause damage that easily escalates into a five-figure catastrophe. For many repairs, it also helps to be handy (and steady with) a propane torch. In general, leave those plumbing repairs that are concealed under floors and behind walls or ceilings to a licensed plumber. This includes modifying a plumbing system, extending water lines and rerouting sewer pipes.
Minor repairs a confident DIYer might be able to handle: This varies widely, depending on the slope of the roof (20-degree angles are considered potentially dangerous for amateurs) to the type of repair involved.
Reasons to leave other, more complicated repairs to the experts: Be honest with yourself; even nailing down a few shingles or cleaning out a gutter can be treacherous if you’re unsure about climbing a ladder. (And don’t forget the tools you must take along for the ride.) If you can safely and easily reach your roof from a bedroom window, so much the better. Either way, you should never attempt a roof repair without a spotter or helper – someone who will literally have your back.
Gas Appliance Repairs
Minor repairs a confident DIYer might be able to handle: Although they might not technically count as repairs, stick with vacuuming around gas appliances and cleaning out a dryer vent.
Reasons to leave other, more complicated repairs to the experts: Err on the side of “what could go wrong, even deadly wrong.” Even if “all” you have to do is move a stove or dryer away from the wall, unhook it to make a repair and then hook it up again, accidents can happen. In other words, gas can escape from even the tiniest gap. And gas leaks can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Garage Door Repairs
Reasons to leave other, more complicated repairs to the experts: In this group of repairs, garage door repairs are the fooler. What appears to be a straightforward mechanical system – hinges, rollers, springs governed by a motorhead and drum – is actually a fairly complicated enterprise. Garage door service experts are known to say that they “rescue” more DIY repairs that have literally run off the rails than any other type of home repair service because homeowners seriously underestimate what’s involved.
Wounded Pride Isn’t Fatal
If you’re still not convinced – if you’re still determined to showcase your DIY pride with these five types of home repairs – then at least ask yourself the following 10 questions. If you honestly answer “no” to any of them, defer to the experts. It’s no exaggeration to say that the decision might wound your pride but save your life.
- Do I know how to complete this task, from start to finish?
- Will I know what to do if I encounter unforeseen problems?
- Have I honestly sized up every worst-case scenario? Am I prepared to deal with everyone?
- Have I eliminated every chance for accident or injury?
- Do I have the proper tools to complete this home repair?
- Am I committed to executing the repair properly, without taking shortcuts?
- Am I familiar with the local or national codes, rules or procedures that might govern this repair?
- Do I have enough time to complete this repair?
- Do I enjoy doing this type of repair?
- Is my time worth spending on this type of repair?
When it comes to home repairs, it’s always best to defer to the experts. If the safety of your home or a loved one hangs in the balance, always choose the smarter choice and call a professional.