3 Plumbing Projects You Can Do By Yourself

Plumbing can make you feel like a very accomplished DIYer indeed. After all, there’s nothing more satisfying that finally fixing that running toilet. That said, with plumbing projects, it’s easy to get in over your head. A few wrong turns of the wrench and you may need a raft to get out of the house.

But plumbers are expensive—and of course, notoriously bad at arriving when they say they will. So if you can avoid the hassle of finding a reliable plumber and waiting around all day for them to show, it’s usually worth it. Here are three projects you can comfortably manage on your own, without calling in the pros.

black kitchen faucet

Replacing a Shower Head

A brand-new shower head can be a bathroom game changer—so long, weak water pressure! And making a direct replacement is no big thing, really. To do this project yourself, you don’t really want to mess around too much with the shower head style. That is, if you want a rain-style shower head, you’ll probably need a pro’s help. But if you’re just putting in a new single-head sprayer, it’s easy enough to do.

Start by shutting off the water to your bathroom. Then grab a pair of adjustable channel-locking pliers and affix them around the shower head. Gently turn the shower head counter clockwise until it’s loose enough to pull off.

Apply Teflon tape counter clockwise around the base of the shower arm. Thread the new shower head onto the base by turning it clockwise with your hands. Once it becomes too difficult to turn with your bare hands, use your pliers to tighten it into place. Turn the water back on and check for leaks—nothing to it!

Replacing a Kitchen Faucet

Nothing adds more swank to your home than a shiny new faucet. Changing it out lets you to stay on top of interior design trends and is a simple fix for a leaky, aging faucet. Swapping out faucets is a little more complicated than changing the shower head, though, particularly if you come across problems like corroded pipes or hard-to-reach nuts. But it’s still well within the reach of novice home repairers.

First, you want to locate the hot and cold water shutoff valves on your kitchen faucet. Typically, these are located in the cabinet directly beneath the kitchen sink. Turn them to the off position, and then reach up to you faucet and push the handle up to relieve pressure. Move back down below the sink and use an adjustable wrench and channel-locking pliers to disconnect both the hot and cold water lines from the faucet.

Next, switch to a basin wrench or a socket wrench and use it to unscrew the nut holding the faucet tailpiece in place. Now you’re ready to pull the old faucet out and put the new one in—at which point, it’s merely a matter of following the instructions that came with it.

Fixing a Running Toilet

Nothing is more annoying than a running toilet—not to mention the extra money tacked onto your water bill each month! Luckily, this is a pretty swift repair that even moderately handy homeowners can tackle on their own.

Most running toilets are due to a flapper that doesn’t seal properly, which means you need a new one. To replace it, shut off the valve to your toilet’s water supply. Then flush the toilet to drain the water out of the basin. Unhook the flapper, clean it off, and take it with you to the hardware store to buy a replacement piece—that way, you know you’ll get one that fits.

Install the flapper by carefully following the instructions on the package. Altogether, it should take you less than an hour or two, depending on how close you are to the nearest home improvement store. Running toilets: 0, you: 1

There you go! All you need to go from homeowner naif to pro in no time. Looking for more DIY projects? Check out our latest articles for more improvement ideas!

4 Repairs Better Left to the Pros

So you watched a few DIY videos, and now you’re itching to test out your newly-learned skills? By all means, give it a whirl! Just make sure your experiments don’t include one of the four areas below. These kinds of projects are strictly for pros. Hands off, weekend warriors!

hammer on board

Plumbing

Small plumbing repairs are fine, but get in over your head and you could quickly be up to your neck in hot water. Basically, that means anything more advanced than a running toilet or a faucet replacement should be handled by a professional licensed plumber.

Pros will know how to deal with permits and have professional training that allows them to find and fix repairs quickly and efficiently. They also understand how to minimize damage, and are able to solder pipes together if the job calls for it. And they can handle jobs that combine plumbing and electrical work, like installing a brand new dishwasher.

Last of all, plumbing companies often offer warranties for their technician’s workmanship. So if anything else goes wrong, you can just call them up and have them visit again. You’re not going to get that kind of a guarantee with a DIY job!

Electrical

You may have tackled small electrical jobs in the past, like replacing an outlet or installing a new ceiling fan. But that doesn’t mean you have the technical prowess to compete with the pros! The benefits of calling a professional electrician are pretty obvious: You won’t be putting yourself at risk of electrical shock or monkeying around with unfamiliar wires.

In most states, electrical work also needs to be handled by pros to ensure that it’s up-to-code. DIY wiring can result in overloaded circuits that makes them a fire hazard.

Electricians have the proper devices to test wires and outlets to ensure that they’re safe to touch. They also know how to completely shut off the power to outlets, circuit breakers and appliances before they start working on them. All in all, you’re almost always better off calling in a licensed electrician, rather than trying to catch up on wiring through a few videos.

Roofing

Your roof is often the only thing standing between you and the elements—do you really want it compromised by shoddy work? Properly shingling a roof can be difficult for a novice to do properly.

Meanwhile, climbing up on the roof is trickier than it appears. Even if you pride yourself on your excellent balance, you’re taking a major risk when you get up on your house. In fact, even the pros have difficulties sometimes. Roofers are about three times more likely to fatally fall on the jobsite than workers in other construction industries, so it’s safe to say that they have a dangerous job.

And have you ever tried to lift shingles yourself? Shingling often weighs in the tons—not the kind of stuff you want to try dragging around without professional help. Unless you’re just making a tiny repair, it’s best to call out the pros for this one.

Anything Involving Gas Lines

Just bought a new gas stove? Leave the hookup to someone who knows how! Gas furnaces, appliances and water heaters should always be handed off to the professionals.

The issue here is that it’s very easy to create a gas leak. Slow leaks could go undetected for a long time—at least, until you start smelling gas. And by that time, static buildup can cause the gas to ignite, which is a huge risk to your family and your home.

Instead, always call in a pro to handle repairs and installations, and use extra caution when hooking up gas grills outdoors. A worry-free home? Now that’s something anyone can appreciate!

5 Home Maintenance Nightmares—And How to Prevent Them

What do you do when you can’t sleep? Count sheep? Watch TV? Use a relaxation technique? Or do you anxiously run through everything that could go wrong with your home? If you’re like most homeowners, it’s hard not to let your imagination run away with you. That drip in the sink? Could easily become a gushing torrent of water one day. The crack in the wall? Might as well count yourself homeless right now.

The truth is, most household issues don’t end in complete disaster. But that might not stop your mind at 3:00 am. Still, you’ll sleep a lot better knowing you’ve done your due diligence to prevent these homeowner nightmares from springing to life. Just a little bit of regular home maintenance here and there will ward off some of the worst home boogie men—and save you from those late-night infomercials!

ants on a board

Dodge Plumbing Disasters with a Little Pipe Upkeep

Imagine coming home to find that a small river had suddenly sprung up in your kitchen. It happens more frequently than we’d like to think. In fact, even the most diminutive plumbing leaks can cause Amazon-sized destruction, leading to swelled flooring, wrecked carpets—and mold growth, besides. But luckily, you’re not helpless to prevent them. In fact, one of the most impactful things you can do is lower your water pressure. High pressure is exactly that—pressure—and it can stress your pipes and reduce their life expectancy. Use a hose bib gauge to test your home’s psi; ideally, you’ll get a reading somewhere between 40 and 85. Don’t forget about what’s going on inside the pipes, either. Hard water can eventually corrode them and cause leaks, so install and maintain a water softener in your home, especially if you have high mineral content.

Avoid Roof Leaks with Regular Inspections

Like a burst pipe, a leaky roof can cause all kinds of havoc—and leave you on the line for thousands of dollars. And while you’ll probably notice the former, roof leaks can be trickier to catch on time, especially if they originate in the attic or between the walls. To combat potential roofing problems, have your roof inspected regularly—ideally once a year. Roofing pros not only look at your shingles and gutters, they also inspect the flashing around your chimney and vents as well. And they’ll be able to detect signs of a leak in your attic, too. A little prevention now could just save you from catastrophe later.

Sidestep Mold by Keeping Surfaces Happy and Dry

A mold infestation is a truly scary thought. Left to its own devices, mold can cost you up to $6,000 to remove and remediate. Meanwhile, it’s a health disaster, that can exacerbate existing conditions like asthma or cause life-threatening infections. And mold is sneaky. It often springs up undetected in unfrequented spaces, like in basements, crawl spaces and attics. To beat it, make sure to check for condensation and moisture near your air conditioning duct work and around your walls, basement floor and windows. You’ll also be doing yourself a favor if you regularly clean your gutters—it keeps moisture away from your walls and foundation and prevents mold in less obvious spots.

Ward Off Pest Infestations with Frequent Maintenance

You probably don’t need anyone to tell you how disgusting and uncomfortable a rodent or insect infestation can make you feel. Your home is supposed to be a retreat from the outside world, not a makeshift roach motel! But not if you leave your pest prevention up to chance. Neglected maintenance tasks, like untrimmed tree branches, untended cracks in walls and unaddressed pipe leaks may lure pests into your home. And of course, they’re drawn like literal moths to the flame when there’s open food and garbage around. A regular cleaning and maintenance schedule will help take care of those pesky critters, as will decking your home out with pest-repelling plants, like citronella, neem, marigolds and mint. Nothing like a little all-natural pest prevention!

Protect Yourself from a Sticky Sewage Situation

Sewage leaks give pest infestations a run for their money in the “disgusting household emergencies” department (although we can’t say why someone created that department in the first place!). A sewer line failure is a truly disturbing event—and if it happens in your yard, it’s your problem, not the city’s. But a little foresight here can go a long way to preventing a really icky situation. If you have clay pipes on your sewer line, have them snaked annually to limit tree root intrusion. You’ll also want to hire a professional plumber to clean the sewer lines once a year, regardless of the type. And keep your eyes peeled for signs of impending trouble: toilets that gurgle after flushing or standing water in your basement floor drain. We can’t promise it will cure your insomnia, but this way, you can at least cross off one item on your list of anxieties!