Do your drains keep clogging up? Does your toilet seem inept at flushing? These are common problems, as are small pipe leaks and even drain backups. It’s also common for people to attempt repairs themselves rather than call on professional plumbing services.
You may feel confident and savvy, and there’s plenty of information on the Web. Regardless, that doesn’t make you a pro. In fact, you could end up making the problem much worse and more expensive to fix.
Why People Try to Attempt Plumbing Repairs
A lack of experience cannot be compensated for with step-by-step instructions on Pinterest, or a YouTube video of a DIY project. There’s no shortage of online articles, tutorials, and guides. Many are insightful, but they don’t make up for inexperience, nor do they equip you with the skills and tools needed to execute the service plumbers in your area can provide.
Thus, the reasons people attempt plumbing repairs on their own include:
- Accessibility of information
- Saving a few dollars
- A sense of accomplishment
In the long run, none of these are truly recognized benefits. There are likely to be hidden issues you’re unaware of, as you don’t have the experience to know to look for them. Professional plumbers are trained to spot certain problems. They also have the tools to accurately diagnose issues and implement the proper fixes.
Attempting a DIY plumbing project is perilous unless you know what you’re doing. One example here is knowing where the main shut off valve is. This is the main control for your water line. Can you locate it and shut it off, and is the valve working normally? These are two questions to ask yourself when debating a DIY vs. professional plumbing job.
Also, ask yourself if you really know how to proceed. Do you have the right tools and resources in place? Is that the right kind of adhesive? What if something doesn’t fit quite right? If you don’t know what to do, there’s not much advantage to doing it yourself, is there?
Fixing things around the house does provide a sense of accomplishment and is convenient. However, plumbing is a bit different from repairing a cabinet hinge or doorknob yourself. Skill, tools, and precision are much more important in the plumbing world. You won’t know if it’s a blockage deep down in the sewer line or tree roots in the pipe causing the trouble.
You may have changed a showerhead or a faucet filter in the past. The average person can do these simple tasks. In general, issues affecting the plumbing system are much more complex and can only be corrected once the experts repair a sewer pipe, for example. Without training, you should not try to fix a clogged drain if an ordinary plunger can’t correct the problem. Nor should you attempt to fix a broken toilet, water heater, or anything that may involve structures in walls, ceilings, or under the ground.
Reasons to Avoid DIY Fixes
It may seem like an easy, quick fix, but following simplified instructions most often does more harm than good. Before proceeding, it’s important to realize these reasons to avoid tackling the problem yourself:
- It can make things worse:
- If you haven’t attempted plumbing repairs before, there’s a high likelihood of making mistakes. This can happen anytime you try something new. More damage can occur because:
- You have no previous knowledge or experience to draw on.
- You’re not equipped with special cameras, plumbing wrenches, and other tools.
- You probably won’t know how to proceed if something goes wrong.
- Leaks and broken pipes often occur unexpectedly during plumbing work.
- Sometimes it takes an expert: Even if you bought some tools and materials, things may not go as planned. A pipe may seem to be leaking, or wall tiles may not sit properly. Is there a missing component that joins the pipe or seals it? An expert would know, but it’s nearly impossible to have everything figured out if you’ve never done this before. The issue may also lie deeper than you think—perhaps the only resolution is sewer pipe repair, and your arms certainly don’t reach down that far.
- Plumbing tools aren’t ordinary household items: The professionals are equipped with specialized tools you won’t find lying around the house. You probably don’t possess angled pipe fittings or tools such as tube benders, pipe threaders, sleeve pullers, a snake auger, or a faucet handle puller. Rotary pipe cutters and rooter machines require training and experience to master. These are just a few examples of equipment you’ll find in a plumbing supply catalog, but which come at a cost and learning curve most people aren’t quite ready for, and with a risk of misuse and accidents leading to injury.
- Cost: One simple word sums it up. When you factor in cost vs. savings, there’s the fact most plumbing companies charge a set fee for the job. Going out and buying the materials and tools yourself incurs expenses exacerbated when you factor in the time it takes to complete and the risk of error.
Consider for a moment you can rent some equipment and find inexpensive materials. The job still needs to get done, and one mistake can cause exponentially more damage than the issue you were attempting to fix. At the very least, an incorrect installation or unseen minor issue may lead to repairs much sooner than when you depend on plumbing services in your area.
Even if a DIY plumbing project saves you now, there’s no guarantee of long-term savings. Also, consider the fact many companies warranty their work. If something goes wrong in the future, and it’s related to the work or parts involved in the repair, you may not have to pay anything more.
- Once you start, there’s no going back: You’re stuck with the results of each step of the project, and if you can’t fix the problem it’s going to cost you. Then consider the cost of emergency repair bills. If you’re like most people, you’ll probably address a plumbing issue during your free time—at night or on the weekend. Most plumbing companies charge higher rates for emergency service during off hours.
The damage may not be limited to your pipes or drains. If you inadvertently cause a pipe to burst or damage a water line, the potential for water damage is virtually limitless. A flood could ruin your floor, furniture, and the wood frame of your house beyond repair.
Also, think about the cost of cleaning up a flooded basement or crawl space. The water level can build quickly. Without a means to stop the flow, such as tools or a working sump pump, the potential for water damage will build exponentially by the second. According to HomeAdvisor, a basement flood can cost $1,500 to pump out and dry, while repairs can exceed $10,000.1
By comparison, it might just cost a few hundred dollars for a professional to install new plumbing—and, when water sits on a floor or in walls, mold is soon to follow. Mold removal costs can add thousands of dollars to your repair bills. Perhaps replacing the sewer line was the best solution in the first place—something you probably would not have thought of.
When to Call on Professional Plumbers
Many people consider DIY repairs for seemingly minor problems, at least which seem so on the surface. The underlying problem can be more severe than you think. Here are some situations in which it’s always better to call for professional plumbing services.
- Water drains more slowly: If a sink, tub, or toilet won’t drain or is taking longer than usual to, and plungers and other store-bought products don’t work, call a plumber. You don’t know where the clog is and what may be causing it.
- Water pressure is low: Faucet aerators can get jammed up, causing the pressure to go down, but a leak somewhere in your plumbing or a broken pipe can affect pressure, too. Only experienced plumbers have the resources to find and fix the problem.
- You hear water in the pipes: The sound of running water from pipes, even when no faucets are running, can mean there’s a leak somewhere. Sometimes, the source is more evident if you can spot wet areas or brown stains on a wall, ceiling, or floor. Likewise, gurgling sounds when the toilet, dishwasher, or laundry are running can mean there’s a clog or other problem with a drain. A water backup may be imminent.
- Rotten odor: The smell of sewage or rotten eggs means something is wrong under your house, such as a broken sewer A damaged pipe, in this case, can threaten not only your foundation but health as well, so call a plumber. If you smell gas, call the utility company right away; a plumber cannot fix a gas leak or reduce the risk of an explosion.
- The pipes are frozen: You may be tempted to thaw them out, but this can trigger a cracked or burst pipe. Contact a plumber if the water stops running, you smell sewage from the faucet, or there are clanking noises when you try to turn it on. Visible frost on exposed pipes is a telltale sign, but there’s no safe way to address this yourself.
- Faucets are leaky: Leaking faucets are a common problem, but not easily resolved without a plumber. A water faucet consists of several different parts. A leak may be caused by a faulty washer, which can easily wear out, or a displaced or deteriorated O-ring. The inlet and outlet seals of a disc faucet can deteriorate or become contaminated with sediment, causing leaks. Also, excess water pressure outside the faucet mechanism caused by other plumbing issues may be to blame.
All Star Is Here to Help
A full-service plumber, All Star Service & Repair has the latest tools and technology to fix plumbing leaks, clogs, and damaged pipe. Our trained experts can quickly diagnose a problem and are available 24/7, even for emergencies. Licensed and insured, our business employs only the most professional and qualified plumbers. Plumbing and HVAC services are provided for homes and businesses in Salt Lake City and surrounding communities. For more information on plumbing and HVAC service, send us a message or call for a free estimate at 801-792-2428.