Some of us are handy people. Many of us are not, but those of you who are good with tools might find it satisfying to fix your own plumbing. Though it’s not wrong to do this, there are a few things to keep in mind before deciding to DIY your plumbing problem.
Don’t try to fix it yourself at night or on the weekend
Especially don’t try doing it yourself during a holiday weekend! I know this is difficult because you are probably working during regular hours. However, you need to keep in mind that plumbers charge more after hours and on weekends.
You may be thinking, “Why does it matter? I’m not planning on calling a plumber.” A word of warning here is that problems that look simple are often the symptoms of more serious issues. It’s okay to try and fix it yourself. Maybe it is a simple fix, but do it during regular work hours so that you don’t have to pay after hours rates if something goes wrong. You especially don’t want to be stuck with no water or even worse, have water everywhere and need a plumber right away!
Don’t rely solely on YouTube or the internet for information
There’s no doubt that YouTube, blogs, and DIY websites are full of handy information. The problem is that relying on them completely can get you in a jam. There are a few reasons for this.
The video or blog was created in another city or state
Things are different between states: climates, laws, water, soil. What is appropriate in Minnesota may not work at all in New Mexico. An example is the frost line. The frostline is how deep into the soil groundwater freezes. In Albuquerque, the frostline is a minimum of 16 inches. Just an hour away in Santa Fe, it’s 36 inches! But in Minnesota? It’s around six feet and varies by location in the state. This significantly affects plumbing.
Authority that has Jurisdiction laws
Every city and municipality has its own water authority. This basically means that what is acceptable in Rio Rancho may not be acceptable in Albuquerque. What’s okay in Santa Fe may not be okay in Las Cruces. The water authority in your jurisdiction is where you should find your information about laws and accepted methods.
Anyone can post online
Someone who is not licensed and not trained in plumbing code standards can just as easily write a blog as someone who is. Telling the difference can be difficult. One of our plumbing managers says, “It’s too easy to get the wrong information online. It’s much harder to get the right information.”
Do call a licensed plumber for recommendations and coaching
Many licensed plumbers are happy to coach you over the phone. TLC’s licensed plumbers will gladly give you recommendations. They are up to date on plumbing code, laws, and local climate. Their know-how can save you frustration and money.
Don’t think you are saving money by doing it yourself
We’ve all heard the old saying that “time is money.” Don’t think that your time is worth less than the plumber’s. By spending your time on the project, you’re not able to do something else. Maybe you took time off work for this. That costs you. Don’t discount what your time is worth. Many times, the plumber can do the project faster simply because of the experience he has.
Also, when you do it yourself, there is a risk that you may cause more damage. Even the best handy people make mistakes or run into things they’re not familiar with. It may be more expensive to call the plumber after you’ve tinkered with something than to call before.
Be aware that you may not have the right tools
Plumbers use specialized tools to repair plumbing problems. Most of us don’t have these specialized tools lying in our garage, so we use something we do have in a creative way. Though creativity is healthy, using the wrong tool can cause more damage or mean something is not put together correctly. Be very careful and ask your plumber what you should use if you’re not sure.
Don’t use liquid drain cleaners
Whatever you do, if your drain is clogged, do not use a drain cleaning liquid. There are two primary reasons for this:
- These chemicals are very corrosive and can easily harm you and your plumbing system, killing the good bacteria that control buildup in your drains.
- Some plumbers may charge more if you’ve recently used Drain-o or another drain cleaning liquid. These liquids are caustic and hazardous, making the plumber’s job more dangerous.
Also, it’s highly suggested that you don’t rent a drain machine. Renting might sound like a good option, but it can actually be quite dangerous. A broken drain line can cause the machine to malfunction or a cable to break, which can easily injure you. It is better to hire a professional who is licensed, trained, and insured than to risk hurting yourself.
Only hire licensed, bonded and insured plumbers
It can be tempting to hire a local, unlicensed handyman to repair your drains, plumbing, or other household systems. After all, they’re cheaper, right? That depends on how much you are willing to risk to save a few bucks.
A licensed, bonded, and insured plumber assumes the risk of anything going wrong. They often carry warranties and will usually fix any mistakes free of charge. If something catastrophic happens, their insurance steps in to take care of it.
An unlicensed, unbonded, and uninsured plumber transfers all of that risk to you. If something happens to your home, you assume all of the liability for the work done, and this can include if the handyman gets injured on your property. If something goes wrong, there is no insurance payout other than your own. Plus, you will probably still have to pay a real plumber to come fix it again.
“Don’t pay twice to fix what a pro could have done right the first time” – TLC Plumbing Department Manager
Want to visit with a TLC licensed plumber? Our plumbers are here to answer any questions you may have.
What’s the bottom line:
Make sure you take the risks into account before diving into a project. Call a licensed plumber and ask for their advice before trying to do it yourself. Don’t rely solely on the internet and never hire an unlicensed plumber or handyman. And never forget, it’s cheaper to pay to have it done once than to have it done twice.