Over the past 30 years, home styles, decor, and more have changed dramatically. So have homeowners themselves. With an endless library of do-it-yourself (DIY) videos and how-to guides at their fingertips, today’s homeowners feel more empowered than ever before to tackle big home projects and handle their own repairs. With the right tools and a willingness to learn, you can do just about anything.
But, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should. There are many home repairs that are just too risky for DIY work. This includes HVAC, plumbing, electrical, and roofing repairs. All of these projects have very little margin for error and could be dangerous to you or your home if not done right. As we’ll review in this article, you’re far better off bringing in a professional to help you with these essential—but high stakes—projects.
Let’s get this out of the way, right off-the-bat: working on your own air conditioner, boiler, or furnace is a bad idea. Here are just a few of the reasons why:
- Costly: The minute you open up your own air conditioner or furnace, you’ve likely just voided the manufacturer’s warranty. This essential coverage protects components such as the compressor or heat exchanger.
- Dangerous: If you don’t have the right training or tools, messing with an HVAC system could lead to electrocution, a refrigerant leak, or another hazardous situation.
- Ineffective: On top of all this, attempts at DIY cooling and heating repair are rarely effective and may lead to long-term problems for the system that end up leading to another breakdown or shortening its life.
There’s almost no upside to trying to make your own HVAC repairs. If you’re trying to get your furnace running again in the winter, time is of the essence. Your home is losing heat by the hour, which might put your home’s pipes at risk of freezing overnight. You don’t have days to read up on how to make a repair or go buy the tools you need. It’s just not worth freezing yourself out over.
Call a heating and cooling professional. Having the peace of mind that comes with a true expert inspect and repair your HVAC system is worth the cost. A licensed and experienced technician will be able to complete the job quickly, getting your home back to being comfortable as soon as possible. It’s the right way to handle your HVAC breakdowns and problems.
This category of home repairs encompasses a lot of different tasks and projects. There are many that are relatively DIY-friendly, so long as you know what you’re doing: clearing a shower drain clog, cleaning out a bathroom sink trap, or installing a new kitchen faucet. However, there are many other repairs and installation projects that require the expertise of a professional plumber. Here are just a few examples:
- Hidden Leaks & Pipe Repair: Not every leak is conveniently located under your kitchen or bathroom sink. Your home has a network of water pipes running behind walls, under floors, and in ceilings. If you notice water damage in your home, you have no idea where it’s coming from. That’s where a plumber can help. Experienced plumbers have access to professional-grade leak detection equipment that allows them to pinpoint the exact location of a leak in the home.
- Sewer Line Clogs: If all the drains in your home are clogging at once, you need to turn off the water and call a plumber right away. You likely have a sewer line clog. Left untreated, this clog can eventually lead to wastewater backing up into your home—a disastrous scenario. Using specialized augers and high-pressure water jets, a plumber will be able to effectively clear the clog, and then verify that the line is functioning properly again.
- Water Heater Repair: If your water heater has stopped working, you’ll need a professional to come out and accurately diagnose the problem—especially if your water heater is more than 10 years old or has experienced issues in the past.
When it comes to DIY electrical work, just say no. The stakes are just too high. Every year, more than 1,600 Americans are either electrocuted or injured due to an electrical failure, such as a incorrectly installed circuit that causes a home fire. Tragically, more than 400 people are killed by electrical failures annually. The risk isn’t just to your own life: according to 2011 data collected by the Electrical Safety Foundation, incorrect installation or other wiring problems led to more than 43,000 home fires and over $1.5 billion in property damage. Even something as simple as installing a new fan could put your home in incredible danger.
If you’re facing an electrical problem, or need something installed, hire a licensed electrician. Experienced electricians have the safety equipment and know-how to safely make the repair or complete your project. Trust us: you’ll be able to sleep much better at night knowing that your home’s wiring and circuits were installed or repaired right. Any form of DIY electrical work introduces an unknown variable. It’s not worth it.
Know when to bring in a professional
If you’re a homeowner who’s reading this and feeling discouraged, don’t be! Outside of high-stakes, urgent, or dangerous repairs, there’s a lot you can do to maintain your home on your own. In fact, a DIY mindset can help you save money on things like carpet cleaning, painting, gutter cleaning, and much more.
Just know your limits and when it’s time to call a pro. We recommend you plan for this ahead of time by vetting out plumbers, HVAC companies, electricians, and other experts now, before you’re faced with an emergency. Then, when you have a leaking pipe, a tripped circuit breaker, or an air conditioner breakdown, you’ll know exactly who you want to call for repairs. For each service category, have several backups: if your first choice can’t make it out to your home, you’ll want to have other options ready to go.
For a comprehensive overview of the types of home repairs that require a professional, be sure to check out the infographic below. It breaks down the exact risks homeowners face when they attempt to handle their own HVAC, electrical, and roofing work.