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April 19, 2021
We’re a gaggle of pretty gung-ho folks: our fearless leader, Olga, headed up our massive office reno and designed the space, installed flooring, painted walls and shelves. The rest of us aren’t slouches, either - we’ve all painted, taken on refinishing projects; Natalie even got a crash course in laying down some SPC! However, even the gamest of DIY-ers needs to know when NOT to pick up the hammer. There are certain projects that even the most thorough research can’t prepare you for; which projects should you hand over to a professional? Read on for our take!
ELECTRICAL: shocking, we know!
This is a big one. Anything to do with the wiring of your home should definitely be left to a professional. Electrical work can be super risky in three big ways.
Have you ever watched This is Us? Spoilers, but one false move with a crock pot caused a whole lot of devastation. House fires are immensely debilitating and dangerous events that can decimate lives - so just hire a pro, okay?
Attempting wiring yourself can leave you with naked wires or sub-optimal arrangements, and both of those can be exceedingly dangerous set-ups that increase the likelihood of short circuiting. They can also do damage to your home slowly, over the course of several years, before finally doing horrific damage.
Mild electrocution comes with the territory, but severe electrocution is a real possibility even for experienced technicians, and that can cause long-term muscles and nerve damage as well as death. Larger appliances operate with higher voltages than the standard lightbulb (which, duh, you *can* safely change yourself) and so you really need to leave those to professionals who know how to avoid dangerous situations.
KEEP IT UP TO CODE
There are legal standards that have to be upheld in all electrical systems. These codes can be pretty intricate and difficult for the layperson to follow, and executing wiring that’s not up to code can be both dangerous and costly upon inspection.
PLUMBING: nice pipes!
Plumbing seems like a much lower stakes area than electrical, right? Wrong! It might not harbor the same high-stake threats, but it’s much easier than you think to do a whole lot more harm than good.
DON’T MAKE IT WORSE!
You might feel well-equipped with your plunger and your toolbox, but in a lot of cases, diving in to fix something will actually cause a disaster of an avalanche effect. Replacing something as small as a showerhead incorrectly can lead to clogs or stuck parts or fixtures that don’t work at all. Loosening the wrong pipe under your sink can cause really expensive leaks. Snaking your own drain with the wrong tool or pouring the wrong drain cleaner can do a ton of harm to your pipes. Need we say more?
EQUIPMENT: what’s in your toolbox?
Your wrench may be tried and true, but it’s not going to be the right fit for every job. There are specialized tools that you won’t have lying around, and it’ll cost you to procure them. Besides, the hope is you won’t be able to use them often, so they’ll just be taking up space in your garage or your basement.
TIME IS MONEY
You might think you’re saving money by fixing your plumbing problem yourself, but it’ll cost more than it would have to fix the damage done by the problem AND your handiwork - and then you’ll have wasted your time, too. Besides - sometimes what looks like a quick fix is actually just the tip of the iceberg, and vice versa! Call in a pro - they’ll do it faster than you, and correctly, and you’ll have your space back in tip-top shape ASAP!
TEAR DOWN THAT WALL: actually, pls don’t.
We’ve all thought about it - the catharsis of picking up that big ol’ hammer and smashing it directly into a wall. The rush! The power!
Honestly? It’s not worth it. There are a lot of pitfalls to attempting to demolish walls on your own.
Unless you’ve poured over the blueprints to your home, and are certain which walls are structural and which are not, leave them be! Demolishing the wrong wall can either bring about imminent collapse, or slow slumping, both of which are things you absolutely want to avoid.
CAREFUL WITH YOUR TOOLS!
Have you wielded a sledgehammer before? Yeah, me neither. Ever seen someone pick up a sledgehammer at a circus and stumble around from the weight? Imagine that travesty happening inside your home! The process of a demolition in your home can come with a lot of associated damage, to your walls and your floors and your furniture - and to you!
PIPES AND WIRES, OH MY.
There are wet walls and there are dry walls, and unless you know which ones are which, tearing down a wall is a dangerous and expensive proposition. Having at a wet wall - meaning, one with pipes running through it - can cause huge damage both to your pipe system AND to your home.
And even more imperative to avoid - live wires. Wires run through almost every single wall in your home, and smashing into the wrong one could send a live wire sparking all over the place, posing a huge source of danger to yourself and your surroundings.
There are a few other potential projects that we’d recommend leaving to a pro. Your garage door: seems simple, but there are a lot of moving parts here, and since it is an entry point into your home, you want to make sure it’s safe and secure. Your roof: they’ll do it faster, with the right materials, and they’ll make sure everything is up to code. Tile: while backsplash is definitely something you can take on, skip the shower. The integrity of that installation is imperative, because leaks in the shower can cause a ton of damage. Tree removal? Yeah, call that one in. One heavy branch in the wrong spot can take out a window, a wall, or your car!
The takeaway here is that DIY-ing the wrong thing can cost you a lot of money and a lot of time, both right away and over time, and that it can actually be super unsafe. There’s absolutely no shame in calling in a pro for anything dangerous and specialized - they’ve trained for a long time and have a lot of experience and will be able to take care of matters much more efficiently than you can!
Got any DIY disasters you’d like to share with the class? Let us know in the comments! We’ll be gentle, we promise.
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