Whenever something breaks in your home, the first thing you probably ask yourself is, “Is it something I can handle myself,” and I’m right there with you. I’m not the type to panic just because water is pooling in the sink, or there’s a little drippage from the dishwasher; I can usually fix items like that with a hammer, a wrench, some WD-40, and a little bit of elbow grease.
But while I may be a handyman, and you may be too, there are certain jobs that nobody should ever attempt to do. We’d all like to save the time, money, and the headache of hiring a contractor to come and fix our homes, especially if it “doesn’t seem like a big deal.”
But the reality is that some jobs are just too complicated, require tools that most of us don’t have, and above all, can be very dangerous, even for those who know what they’re doing.
Letting your pride talk you into a DIY project that you can’t handle can make your situation worse, eat up your time, cost you more in the long run, and potentially harm you or your loved ones.
While I think everyone can benefit from learning to handle a few simple around-the-house repairs, the following are several areas of repairs that you should leave to the pros, no matter how minor the issue.
Underground and Under-the-Floor Plumbing
I mentioned that I have no trouble at all unclogging the sink when my wife locks have been lost in the drain, and that’s a type of job you shouldn’t have any trouble with yourself (and your wife will think you’re a knight in shining armor when the water drains again). But if you seem to have a deeper seeded issue with your plumbing, especially if your issues lies behind your walls or under the ground, don’t ever attempt to deal with that yourself.
In addition to requiring extensive knowledge and tools, a botched DIY on plumbing can kill the water to all your appliances, lead to flooding which can completely wreck your house or yard, and potentially become very dangerous. If you start digging in your yard, without having a clue as to where your gas lines are, you could either cause a toxic gas leak, or ignite a spark that causes your gas to explode, either of which will hurt or kill you.
When it comes to plumbing, leave it to the plumbers.
When the power goes out, the first thing I do is check the fuse box. It’s a common practice, and will solve about 90% of all your power problems. But if you’ve swapped out the fuses, and you’re still not getting any power, it’s time to call in the professionals.
Electricity is one of the most technically advanced of the vocational trades, and it requires extensive knowledge and training to manage electrical current and circuits, specific tools to gauge and fix issues, and a lot of time. If that’s not enough to dissuade you, consider this – any electrical current between 0.1 and 0.2 amps can kill you; the average toaster produces about 9.0 amps.
So, unless you think that your life is worth risking over a piece of fresh toast, always leave electrical problems to the pros.
Any Sort of Gas Related Problem
Many of us enjoy the use of a gas powered fireplace in the wintertime. It’s nice to come home, change into some shorts, and lounge on the couch while a nice fire staves off the cold outside. But if you even suspect that your fireplace, or any appliance you have that uses gas, has developed a problem, don’t even debate whether or not to call a professional.
The most obvious danger that comes from gas appliances is the risk of explosion. Gas ignites at a temperature of about 495 degrees fahrenheit. A match generates temperatures between 600 and 800 degrees fahrenheit, while a candle can burn between 600 to 1400 degrees, more than enough to ignite. Aside from the risk of explosions, gas in confined spaces, even if they’re ventilated, are toxic if too much is inhaled.
The problem with DIY in gas appliances is twofold – you may not understand how your gas systems works, or how to check for leaks, and what’s more, you may cause a fresh leak if you don’t know what you’re doing. Always leave gas appliance problems to a trained specialist.
Anything Involving Mold
You’ve probably dealt with fungus and mold buildup at some point in your life. Whether it’s that green fuzzy patch on your parmesan cheese wheel, or a corner of wall that’s started to rot, mold is a common occurrence that builds up in homes over time. Irregardless of where you find mold, or how much of it, if you suspect it’s toxic, never try to deal with it yourself.
Though it’s true that mold can usually be dealt with using powerful cleaners, this is not always the case, and more importantly, if you don’t completely eliminate it, it will come back. Since mold is a fungus that festers in high concentrations of moisture, you may kill it on the surface, but without verifying that you’ve completely removed the fungal spores and any lingering traces, you can’t be 100% sure that the problem is solved.
Additionally, since mold requires tedious, meticulous cleaning to completely remove, whomever deals with it will have to be exposed to it for a long length of time. Experts in mold removal have both experience and equipment to protect themselves from the toxins that mold produces, experience and tools you most likely don’t possess.
Anytime you think that you have an outbreak of toxic mold, no matter how minor, don’t attempt to deal with it yourself.