DIY work is perfectly fine for some jobs that you face around the house, but chances are you’ll one day need a professional plumber. We live in an era where homeowners are empowered through detailed project books, online repair videos and project episodes on home-improvement television shows. And that’s a great thing. But some projects fall more into the advanced category.
Get a complex project right, and you’ll have plenty of reasons to feel proud about your plumbing abilities. But get them wrong, and you might be injured, cause more damage than you’re trying to repair or even face a fine from the city.
To be on the safe side, always call a plumber if the project is far beyond your capabilities. Here are 7 of them where a pro might be a better choice than DIY.
#1: Every Plumbing Job That Requires a Permit
If the job that you plan to take on requires a permit, you need a professional plumber. These are typically bigger jobs, but “big” can also be relative. A plumber will know which work needs an official green light from local code enforcement and which doesn’t.
For example, you could likely replace a faucet or your washing machine water supply hoses without applying for one. But if you need a new gas line, you definitely need a permit and a plumber.
Permits help prevent shoddy workmanship and safety issues that can affect the home, neighboring property, and the city. They’re issued for a fee. And once the project is complete, there’s usually an inspection. If a permit is involved, take the safer and easier route and go pro.
#2: When There is a Problem With the Main Line
It’s happened to most homeowners. There’s a blockage somewhere in the home, and it affects more than one room. Maybe the kitchen sink is backed up, so is the guest bathroom sink and two of the toilets in the house won’t flush properly. It might indicate a blockage in the main line, and you’ll probably need a plumber to resolve it.
Issues with the main line often need a lot more than a bottle of caustic drain opener. Any number of problems might be behind the blockage, and DIY attempts to clear the line might actually make it worse.
Tree roots can grow into the main line and sometimes foreign objects get lodged inside. And sometimes a line breaks and requires excavation and replacement. A plumber has the right knowledge to diagnose the problem and the skills to make it right.
#3: If You’re Replacing a Water Heater
Water heaters can be fragile appliances and tank-style models are fairly heavy and awkward. Tankless styles are smaller, but they’re no less fragile. One false move and you might throw out your back or break the new appliance. Then you’ll be back at square one with a much lighter wallet.
Water heater replacement usually falls into the “hire a pro” category. It’s not only the simple way to handle the job, it also helps avoid expensive loss from damage. And then there’s the issue of disposal for the old unit. You can’t set it out with the household trash.
Aside from handling the water heater without risking damage to yourself or your property, there’s also the electrical wiring and gas line to think about. And if you have a tankless heater, the job might be doubly complicated. Unless you have plenty of experience, leave this job to a plumber.
#4: When You Need a New Bathtub or Shower
There’s nothing particularly technical about a bathtub or shower stall unit. In most cases, they’re molded from metal, fiberglass or acrylic and have no moving parts. But even a small shower is larger than an average doorway. How will you remove the old and bring in the new?
Plumbing disconnect is another major factor. You might disassemble the drain and other plumbing hardware to remove the old bath or shower unit. But do you know how to put it back together again? And what if the drain line sags beneath the floor in the process?
Installing a new tub or shower takes more expertise. If the unit isn’t level, it might crack or align improperly with the existing water supply and drain. And some acrylic and fiberglass units require a custom foundation underneath to serve as support since those materials flex under pressure. There’s more to a tub or shower than meets the eye, so it’s a good idea to call a plumber.
#5: If You’re Swapping out an Old Toilet for a New One
Toilets also have no moving parts, at least if you only consider the unit and not the hardware. But they’re heavy, and separating the tank from the bowl to help facilitate removal is sometimes more challenging than it looks. That’s especially true if the tank bolts have rusted.
Unless you want to turn yours into a planter, there’s also the disposal to think about. A plumber will deliver the new unit and take away the old so you don’t have to worry about it.
Then there’s the installation of your new toilet. Although many use a reasonably standard measurement of about 12 inches, newer models vary. This measurement is called the rough-in, and it’s the distance from the wall to the center of the flange or ring that surrounds the drain opening in the floor. A plumber knows which toilet will work with your rough-in so you won’t have to move a drain.
#6: When You Need Sump Pump Repair, Installation or Replacement
Sump pumps are never in a convenient location. They’re in a crawlspace or basement. And if you need a new one, chances are there’s water to contend with, as well. This is usually a job for a plumber.
Sump pumps may be pedestal or submersible style. Pedestal units use a sensor that’s dropped into the water and ironically, submersible pumps float. While either type might last for 15 years or longer with regular maintenance and cleaning, you’ll probably have to replace one in time.
The reason most people need a plumber for sump pump work is that if you get it wrong, you’ll have a flood. And if that happens, you’ll spend a lot more for a professional to set it right again.
#7: If There’s a Mysterious Leak or Gas Odor That You Can’t Trace
One of the most frustrating things homeowners can face is a mystery problem that can’t be tracked down. Sometimes, it’s a faint whiff of sewer gases. And sometimes is water in an area where it shouldn’t be.
Plumbing gases are notoriously tricky to find. You might smell the odor for just a second in the foyer, but the real problem might be inside a plumbing vent stack near the back of the house. Or maybe it’s just a toilet or sink with a dried-out trap that hasn’t been used in weeks. Traps block gases, but only if the pipe bend stays filled with water.
Tracking a water leak can be equally frustrating. And where gases smell awful and even make you sick, a leak can slowly worsen over time to rot floors and structural components and lead to mold. But if the leak is hidden behind drywall, you might not find it until it’s too late. In either case, the professional plumbers at Rodenhiser can track down the culprit and stop it in its tracks.
DIY work is great and it can give you a sense of real accomplishment. But when the job is too big or the risks of getting it wrong are too great, the safer route is to call a professional plumber. You might save a lot of money, too. If that’s surprising, consider the costs of a repair or installation gone wrong. One call guarantees professional work the first time.
If you need plumbing work, rely on the same company Massachusetts homeowners in the Route 495 / 128 area have trusted for over 85 years. Rodenhiser can handle your plumbing issue no matter how big or small. So if you need a bathroom renovation or just a new kitchen faucet, call Rodenhiser and schedule an appointment.