Home repairs can include everything from a simple fix to a major renovation project, but the key to success is knowing when to do it yourself, and when to leave it to the pros. All too often, home repairs may look a lot easier than they actually are, especially when you see them on TV. Rewiring a basement might look like a piece of cake on that home improvement show — and your favorite DIYer on YouTube might say that it’s easy-peasy to repair burst pipes. But in reality, a lot of home repair jobs require a high level of technical training plus specialized equipment, especially if they involve electricity, hazardous materials, intricate plumbing systems, or working with heights. Before starting any home repair project, it’s always a good idea to do your research before you decide whether or not to attempt it yourself.
Rewiring involves removing and replacing all of the existing electrical wiring, plus replacing sockets and switches. This requires a high level of skill and know-how and serves as a reminder of why electricians have to be trained and licensed before they can work professionally. Without training and the right equipment, you risk major circuitry damage, as well as death or serious injury to yourself and others. Recommendation: Professionals only.
Unless you’re doing a temporary emergency patch with putty or fiberglass tape, repairing burst pipes involves either soldering the pipes or replacing them entirely. Because it requires skill and commercial-grade soldering equipment, this job is best left to the pros. Recommendation: Professionals only.
If you’ve got the know-how, plus a good wrench, utility knife, screwdriver, and O-rings, you might be able to handle this yourself. But faucets vary, and yours might require a cartridge or other special parts. If you do your homework, have the right tools, and are comfortable working with pipes, then go for it — but be prepared to call a plumber if the leak continues or if complications arise.
This one is time-consuming, but easy-peasy, given that many of today’s tiles are designed with self-sticking backs for easy installation. Be aware, however, that some types of ceramic tile can be tricky, especially if, as in bathrooms or kitchens, you need to apply grout between the tiles. For help, you can Google “installing tile” for a ton of how-to posts and videos on installing all types of tile flooring. Recommendation: DIY.
The good news is that many of today’s sinks are designed for easy DIY home installation. You’ll have to know how to connect the sink’s drain — but if you’re experienced or willing to learn, you can do this at home. Be aware that you’ll have to disconnect and reconnect drainpipes and water lines, so if this makes you uncomfortable, call a plumber. Recommendation: Experienced DIYers.
For easy clogs, all it takes is pouring a good de-clogging liquid down the drain. Tough clogs, however, might involve pipe removal, which would involve calling a plumber. Also, that clogged drain might be caused by something that’s out of your control, such as a faulty sewer line, and you don’t want to mess with that. If it’s a difficult clog, or if you smell sewage, it’s a job for the professionals. Recommendation: DIY for simple fixes only.
If the tile is merely cracked or broken, and you’ve got DIY experience and a head for heights, go for it. For anything more serious, call a roofer. Working with heights is always risky, especially for those who aren’t used to it. Plus, specialists not only have the right equipment but also the knowledge to spot areas of damage or potential damage, that you might miss. Recommendation: Professionals only (except for minor repairs).
If you’re an experienced home DIYer and you’ve got the patience to learn how to install fiberglass installation, you can do this. As with any project, however, it needs to be installed correctly or it won’t do its job properly. Likewise, some people are sensitive to certain insulation materials, and you’ll need to protect your eyes as well as your lungs. Recommendation: DIY, with homework.
We’ve all done this to some degree, and unless it’s a serious clog, it involves nothing more than giving your arms a good workout with a plumber’s helper and pouring in a de-clogging liquid or hot water. If this doesn’t work, call a plumber, because you don’t want to damage your pipes. Recommendation: DIY, unless there are complications.
If you’re comfortable handling heavy glass (including cracked panes), and if you’ve got the right equipment and are willing to learn about different types of windows and installation techniques, you might try this at home. But be aware that you’ll need special tools for cutting glass (unless you buy it pre-cut, and it still might need trimming), plus commercial-grade putty, sealants, and a heat gun for removing old putty. Plus, you’ll need to take exact measurements in order to get a tight seal for maximum protection. Recommendation: For experienced DIYers or professionals only.
In an emergency, you can make quick minor repairs by applying gutter sealant or pounding in loose spikes, but these fixes are temporary at best. Plus, working with heights can be risky for amateurs. A professional will have the equipment and know-how for permanent repairs, and will also have the skill to identify areas of potential future damage. Recommendation: Professionals only, except for quick temporary fixes.
If you’re simply installing a window unit, you can easily do this yourself. Window units are designed for quick and easy DIY installation. However, if you’re thinking to save money on the cost of central air installation, think again. The guy on TV might make it look easy, but it involves choosing the right unit for your home, plus possibly installing ducts — and you’ll need to have a good understanding of how your duct system works. Plus, you’re legally required to have certification to purchase or even handle some types of refrigerant. This isn’t meant to be a DIY project, and trying to make it into one could make it even costlier, especially if you damage anything. Recommendation: Professionals only.
In order to install a water heater yourself, you’ll need to have plumbing, electrical, and carpentry skills, as well as extensive knowledge of heating and ventilation elements. You also need to be knowledgeable about building codes, and you’ll need to get a special permit and arrange to have your work professionally inspected. Skip this one and leave it to the pros. Recommendation: Professionals only.
Lock repair can involve everything from simply lubricating the parts to actually rekeying the lock, which can get tricky if it’s a complicated mechanism. In many cases, you can easily repair or even change your own locks, and there are tons of how-to videos online that can help. But if you’re not willing to do your homework on different lock systems, and if you want to make sure you’re getting maximum security and protection, call a locksmith. \ Recommendation: Experienced DIYers and professionals only.
Many people think that regrouting tile is one of the easiest home improvements you can tackle because it involves only a minimum of skill and very little equipment. Realistically, however, it helps to have a special grinder to remove the old grout, otherwise, you’ll spend hours hacking away at the old grout while it falls off bit by bit. And if you want to make things easier on yourself, you’ll also need to buy a grout float to spread the new grout. If you don’t mind investing in these tools, you can make this into a fairly easy — if time-consuming — DIY project. Recommendation: DIY with the right tools.
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