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5 Maintenance Projects You Might Not Want to DIY


Building Codes and Construction Knowledge Should Drive Your Decision

© 2013 by Sam Pollock; all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without written permission.

Sink faucet replacement; image courtesy t0msk


The title to this article might be misleading. Just about any DIY project in the world can be—shockingly enough—done by yourself. But there are a few projects you should go into with the know-how first.

It’s best to be 100% confident with your abilities before you attempt these on your own; when in doubt, these bad boys are worth calling in the professionals for.

  1. Electrical Work


    Yes, all electrical work counts as one project. Electrical work can be incredibly dangerous and it’s best to avoid it altogether when possible. Electricians are trained to work with live wires, and even they have had more than their fair share of electrical shocks.

    Electricity is not something to mess around with—a wrong move while you’re trying to re-wire a socket or install a new ceiling fan could cause you unnecessary pain, stress, and/or an electrical fire that could put your home and life in danger.

    Feel free to replace outlet covers and flip breakers, but when it comes to working with the power itself don’t think you can do it yourself without taking necessary precautions or consulting the professionals.

    Besides, almost all municipalities require a permit, city inspections, and a licensed electrician for these jobs. Sidestepping the building code might void your homeowners insurance where the item modified is concerned.

  2. Installing a Bathtub


    Simple plumbing work like fixing a leaky faucet, switching out a shower head, or unclogging a toilet is probably within anyone’s area of expertise, but other plumbing projects aren’t so simple.

    Installing a bathtub is one of them. Just because you managed to install your own toilet last week doesn’t mean that a bathtub will be as simple.

    It’s a complicated procedure that involves elements of both construction and plumbing, requires applying mortar and making sure the tub is level…and it’s all done in a tight, cramped space.

    If you’re at all hesitant, call in the professionals. They’re trained to do this, and it will take them a fraction of the time it would take you to complete the same work.

  3. Drain Cleaning and Repairs


    Some methods of cleaning clogged drains will work the first time, such as homemade drain cleaners and plungers. But what about when none of the simple methods work?

    Rather than taking apart the plumbing system under the sink to locate the issue, call the plumber. Working with water is always tricky, and seemingly small issues can lead to big problems. Clogged drains can be caused by any number of things, including cold weather.

    So this winter, especially if you live somewhere cold like Northern Idaho or Calgary, proper drain cleaning is essential to keep your plumbing functional.

    What’s more, plumbers will notice other issues that you don’t know to look for if you’re doing the work yourself, such as pipes corroding from the inside.

    Corroding pipes can burst in severe cold, and if you’re doing all your plumbing work yourself, you may not notice the warning signs like a seasoned plumber would.

  4. Roof Leaks


    Roofing, especially on second-story houses, is dangerous for the DIY enthusiast. It might be tempting to crawl up the ladder and replace a few missing shingles or patch up a leak, but one wrong step could mean a long fall and unnecessary hospital (or funeral) bills.

    Roof repair isn’t for the amateur, and since roofing doesn’t need to be repaired often anyway, it’s best to get someone who knows what they’re doing and can do it safely.

    Also, consider that locating the source of the leak is not an exact science; it takes years of experience to develop the intuition. For example, the leak may manifest in your bedroom, but it might originate somewhere near the ridge where the water travels down a roof truss until gravity compels the drops to fall on the ceiling.

  5. Knocking Down a Wall


    A little bit of demolition might sound like fun, especially to teenagers grumbling about being roped into helping with home improvement projects.

    But think twice before you start knocking down that wall to open up the kitchen—it’s more complicated than taking a few swings with a hammer. There is trim to take off, studs to remove, and a massive mess to clean up afterwards.

    More importantly, there could be electrical wires, water pipes, and gas pipes to work around, and if anything goes wrong you could end up with a very dangerous (or expensive) situation.

    It’s always better to be safe when you don’t know what’s inside the walls—call in the people who have the tools and know-how to work around potential hazards.

    It is also prudent to consider that it might be a load-bearing wall where the ceiling joists will need to be supported during renovation and then a header will need to be installed.

Rule of Thumb: If you’re at all hesitant about a project you’re facing, don’t do it. More difficult projects will take you much more time and stress than they’re worth. Some mistakes are easily fixed—others can cost you a lot of money in additional repairs if they’re done wrong.

Other projects can be dangerous. So when you don’t feel completely confident in your own abilities, put down the tools and pick up the phone. The professionals are worth it.

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About the Author:

Sam Pollock is an avid blogger who has studied construction management. When he’s not busy blogging for companies like Alberta Water Service, he likes to do home improvement projects or read up on current marketing trends.

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