Plumbing problems: When to DIY & when to call for help


Do-It-Yourself projects allow people to find enjoyment in accomplishments, standing back from a job they have completed with great pride, not to mention the potential savings of not calling in a professional! However, sometimes attempting a repair can have detrimental effects to your home, and can end up more expensive if it is likely to go wrong and more repairs are needed.

Learning to fix a leaky tap or unclogging a drain can be rewarding if you’re learning as you go. Activities such as pulling up floorboards or cutting into walls may not be such a good idea without the help of a professional, and can quickly turn into a disaster if you are not careful!

Do-It-Yourself Jobs

These include the simpler jobs that do not include ripping up floors, walls, or removing an integrated appliance with a thousand different components. These DIY jobs can still range in difficulty, so proceed with caution! If you are trying the things listed below and you encounter an issue or it is more complex than you originally deemed it to be, then call a professional.

Before you begin any DIY plumbing job, make sure you are starting with a complete toolbox. It is very frustrating when you have started a plumbing job and you realise you do not have a specific tool that is required.

Before beginning, you should also be able to locate all of your shut-off valves and know which each one controls. If you are unsure what a specific valve controls, close the valve off and start turning on a tap and flushing your toilet to test. More importantly, you should know where the main shut off hose is, where the main water line enters your house, just in case something unfortunate happens during your DIY project.

1. Fixing a leaking tap

This job is one of the simpler ones. You can either fix the internal components or install a new tap altogether. In some places with harder water, it may be more difficult to undo the tap to replace components, therefore a new tap may be required. But whichever you choose to do, make sure that the water is shut off! You can find step-by-step guides online.

2. Unclogging the Toilet

A clogged toilet can be mostly easy to deal with, usually requiring a plunger and some elbow grease. If you do not have a plunger, then pouring some dish soap and hot water into the bowl and letting it sit before flushing can do the job. If these methods do not work, then you may need to call a professional, as the blockage may be deeper in the pipe.

3. Unclogging Shower and Sink Drains

This will usually mean there is a blockage in the pipe, usually caused by hair. You are able to use a wire to pull out the blockage if it is shallow enough. Supermarket drain unblocking liquids or a mixture of baking soda and vinegar down the drain is usually enough to dissolve the blockage to enable water to flow down the pipes once again.

4. Repairing a Running Toilet

A running toilet is easy to fix if you know what the problem is. First of all you must shut off the water and test the components to see which are faulty. The toilet could be running for many reasons, such as wrong chain length, float set to the incorrect fill level, worn out seal, and a few other reasons. But they should be an easy fix.

Jobs Where a Professional is Needed

Some jobs may be too complex to tackle on your own without professional knowledge and skill set. Jobs that include drilling or ripping into walls, floors, and ceilings, should not be done without a professional as these could go horribly wrong and be detrimental to the home.

1. No Running Water

If you turn on your tap and you do not have any running water, but you call your neighbours and theirs is fine, there could be a serious issue with your plumbing system. You will need to call a professional to diagnose the cause of the problem. No running water could be due to a multitude of reasons, a few of which include: a frozen or broken pipe; an issue with the main pipe; water is leaking somewhere; a water back-up; a clog in the system.

2. Roots Clogging your Drain Lines

If you can clearly see that roots are blocking your drain lines, then professionals can run a camera through the water line and pinpoint the cause. Drainage Care UK, who are experts in helping fix blocked drains in Southampton and surrounding areas, strongly advise calling in professional help for this job. They will be minimally invasive in digging out these roots as they have the equipment and experience to do so without causing damage. You should not attempt this yourself as you could make the problem worse by breaking or cracking pipes.

3. Fixing Cracked Pipes or Moving Pipes

This will require cutting into walls, floors, or ceilings, so therefore should not be tackled as a DIY project. A professional is required in this instance and will use their tools to locate the exact place they need to enter, therefore being minimal in their cutting and damage. Shaping and joining pipework is a skill that plumbers can take decades to master, therefore is something that may not be achievable in a DIY job. Such activities, like cutting into a wall or detaching pipes, could lead to burst pipes or more issues.

4. Installing a water heater

A water heater contains extremely hot water, gas lines, and pressure-controlled tanks, so trying to install or move one yourself can be very dangerous. Factors such as warranties and building codes should also be taken into account, which a professional’s service will come with and follow.

Will You DIY Or Call The Experts?

These are just a few examples. If you are unsure whether you are able to Do-It-Yourself, then call a professional. Their experience is invaluable in assuring everyone remains safe and preventing more damage from being caused by trying to DIY.