Of course, you want to do all your home repairs yourself. Who doesn't? There are so many benefits to doing things on your own, including the sense of accomplishment you feel when a project is complete and the fact that you get to learn a new skill. Saving money is another huge benefit, too.
However, even the handiest homeowner must accept that sometimes calling in the professionals is the way to go. When it comes to home plumbing, sometimes you need to hire a plumber.
Don't look at it as defeat; look at it as knowing your limits. You can do lots of things to fix your plumbing on your own, but there are situations that you will not have the skills or equipment to tackle independently.
Knowing the difference can be difficult. Again, you likely want to do it all yourself, but it takes a smart man or woman to know when it's time to leave a job to the experts. Read on to learn about how to know when you need to call in the big shots when it comes to home plumbing repairs.
When to Do It Yourself
There are a lot of plumbing situations that you can handle yourself.
A clogged drain is a fairly simple problem with simple solutions in many cases. You can try to repair it with a plunger or using a snake. It's unlikely that you will make things worse no matter what you do; it's more likely that you will be able to clear it on your own.
A leaky faucet is a larger problem than a clogged drain, but it is also easy to fix with just a few tools. Remember to shut off the water supply before you begin. Look online for instructions on how to fix a faucet and follow them, and you may be able to make this repair yourself without much difficulty.
When to Hire a Plumber
Unfortunately for plumbers, no one really wants to have to call them out to their home. If you've had to call a plumber, your day is probably not going great. Plumbing issues can damage your house, often smell bad, and make our life difficult in general.
Knowing how to fix some common plumbing problems on your own can come in handy, but you need to know when to call in the pros.
Low Water Pressure
If you are experiencing low water pressure around your entire house, this could be caused by several factors that may not be easily determined. This issue is frustrating, and you will likely want to get it fixed quickly.
Obstructions in water lines can cause low water pressure throughout a home, and a plumber must fix these blockages. It could also be the result of low water pressure from the city supply or your well; a licensed plumber will be able to assess the situation and determine the proper course of action for you.
If you know how to check your faucets and showerheads, go ahead and do that. If that doesn't solve the problem, call a plumber to come in and inspect your plumbing.
No Hot Water
Many different water heater issues can result in there being no hot water in your home. Since hot water is necessary for showers, baths, and general cleaning and hygiene, a plumber will be able to fix this problem faster than you can.
Electric heater problems can include broken heating elements in the water heater, blown fuses, malfunctioning thermostats and other electrical issues. Because hot water problems combine features involving water and electricity or water and natural gas, it's best to leave these repairs to the pros to keep you, your family, and your home safe.
Constantly running toilets will likely happen to everyone at some point. Usually, when this happens, the flap in the toilet tank's bottom isn't sealing shut. If you jiggle the handle, the toilet usually stops running because it closes the flap.
Constantly running toilets not only waste water but are also annoying. Ever tried to go to sleep when you can hear your toilet in the bathroom next door running all night?
It's a pretty easy fix yourself, but if the thought of getting your hands wet in your toilet tank sounds unappealing, a plumber can take care of the issue for you.
Do you find yourself standing in ankle-deep water during your shower? Does a sink in your bathroom or kitchen take forever to drain? If this sounds like you and your house, you might have a clogged drain.
Sinks in the bathroom and kitchen are typically the ones that get clogged. Think about everything going down them: food particles, hair, soap and shampoo build-up.
Over time, things built up in your drains, causing them to slow down. It's not pleasant to think about, but it could always be worse. Ever hear of a fatberg?
You can try to remove the clog on your own with drain cleaners, but be careful, as some of them are damaging to pipes and to the eyes and skin. The better choice would likely be to contact a professional drain cleaning company.
The lifespan of your pipes depends on what they're made of, but they don't last forever. From a high of 40 to 70 years for brass pipes and a low of 20 to 50 years for galvanized steel, you might have to replace the pipes in your home someday, especially if it's older.
As pipes wear down, they may begin to leak. Wet spots on your ceiling or walls are good indicators that your pipes are leaking. Some other indicators include unusually high water bills, mold, mildew growing in the bathroom, musty smells in bathrooms and basements, cracks in your foundation, and water spots along the wall.
Just like constantly running toilets, dripping faucets waste water and are annoying. The good news about a dripping faucet is that it is typically something you can fix independently of a plumber.
It might just need to be tightened or replaced, but faucets can be purchased and replaced relatively inexpensively. And, you can do it yourself. If you're hesitant or have never done it before, YouTube can show you the way!
Since it doesn't get too cold in Austin, we don't have to worry about burst pipes too often. (Not as much as someone who lives in Chicago or another cold northern city might, though.)
When it's extremely cold outside, your pipes could freeze and burst. A burst pipe can cause a huge amount of water damage to your home, so you'll need to call a plumber for this repair.
If your pipes freeze, you may have a rather involved repair on your hands. Cracked or burst pipes need to be repaired and fast before they do extensive damage to your home. A plumber can help you thaw the remaining pipes and replace any cracked or broken pipes.
Water Heater Replacement
Just like the pipes in your home, water heaters don't last forever either. Unfortunately, water heaters only last about a fraction of the time that pipes do. The average lifespan of a water heater is about ten years.
You should keep track of the lifespan of your water heater because when they fail, you're not only facing a cold shower, you could experience a giant mess if the bottom of the heater gives out and all the water inside comes pouring out.
Although it's possible to maintain your water heater yourself, it's just smart to have a new one professionally installed when the time comes.
In addition to professional installation, there are other benefits when hiring a plumber to install your new water heater. Many places require permits to install a new water heater. A plumber will know what permit is needed and can handle the installation for you. You can also depend on the plumber to carry the new heater into your home and dispose of the old one.
Leaking Hose Spigot
During the cold winter months, hose spigots located outside might freeze and crack. These leaks become noticeable in the spring and summer when things are no longer freezing, and you're using your hose outdoors.
A leak will waste water, driving up your water bill, and can also impact the water pressure elsewhere in your home.
Suppose the water line to your washer, dishwasher, or refrigerator is leaking. In that case, a plumber can identify that leak and fix it for you (if it's a problem with the actual appliance, that's a call to an appliance repair person).
A plumber can install a new water line for you too if you get a new refrigerator that has an ice machine and water dispenser, for example.
If you're remodeling your home, you know how careful you need to be not to hit a water line or mess up any of the electrical work. If you accidentally hit a pipe, stop the leak as best you can and then get a plumber out there ASAP.
A plumber can also move your plumbing if you want to change your bathroom or kitchen layout. They can move the plumbing fixture and pipes to a different location within the room. This type of plumbing is not a job that you want to try to DIY, so build the money for an expert plumber into your remodel budget.
Sewer Line Blockage
It's one thing to fix a clog in your sink or bathtub drain, but if the blockage is in the line that runs out to the sewer, you will need professional assistance. Often, this blockage is due to tree roots, and you will find it difficult or impossible to remove them yourself.
Further, many people who try to remove roots themselves end up doing more damage to their pipes. It's better to leave this job to the experts because they'll fix it for free if they make a mistake.
Benefits of Hiring a Plumber
As you can see, there are many times when hiring a professional and licensed plumber is beneficial.
Plumbers have years of experience, knowledge, and training that homeowners do not share. They also have the latest equipment for the job, and they can perform detailed diagnostics about your pipes that would be impossible for someone who has never handled more than their own plumbing system.
Plumbers are trained to diagnose the best way of making repairs or installations and seek permanent solutions to the problems they encounter on the job. A reputable plumber will also warranty their work. Be sure to ask some questions before hiring just any plumber.
Get Help When You Need It
There are many great things about doing things yourself (you'd be surprised at how much you can figure out with the internet and YouTube!), but you need to step back and ask for help when you need it. Knowing when to ask for help can be tricky, but this article will help you determine when to be adventurous by trying something on your own and when to call a licensed plumber for help.
Either way, good luck with your plumbing issues. If you need help in Austin, please give us a call at (512) 298-4916 or request an estimate online. We look forward to serving you.
Updated: February 2, 2021
About the Author: Brett Bidwell, Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Austin
Brett has been a trusted Mr. Rooter owner of Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Austin since 2012. With over 8 years to back him, Brett has experience with a wide range of plumbing related solutions and systems. He and his team specialize in emergency plumbing, drain cleaning, and more.