Embarking on DIY projects can be a cost-effective way to improve and personalize your living space, but some tasks require professional expertise to ensure safety and quality results.
Before attempting any DIY projects around the house, ensure they don't require professional knowledge, skills and tools. This approach not only ensures personal and property safety and prevents any penalties, but also guarantees the longevity and reliability of your household systems.
Our experts have explained the nine household projects that you should never DIY and why.
Household projects experts say you shouldn't DIY
'Venturing into these complex areas without the necessary expertise can lead to costly mistakes, safety hazards, and even structural damage,' says Chris McGuire, founder of Real Estate Exam Ninja. 'Here are some household projects you should never attempt yourself.'
1. Electrical work
'Electrical work is one of the most dangerous and complicated projects you can undertake in your home. It requires specialized knowledge, skills, tools, and permits to ensure safety and compliance with local codes,' explains James Heartquist at We Buy Houses Arizona.
'Even seemingly simple tasks, such as replacing a wall switch, can lead to accidents if proper safety measures aren't followed,' says Peter Evering at Utopia Property Management. 'Additionally, some electrical problems will not be immediately apparent and may require a thorough diagnosis.
'If you try to do electrical work yourself, you risk electrocution, fire, shock, or damage to your appliances and devices,' continues James Heartquist. 'You also risk violating the warranty of your home or your insurance policy.
'Electrical codes and safety standards are regularly updated,' explains Peter Evering. 'Licensed electricians stay informed about the latest changes, ensuring that their work is compliant with current regulations.
'Therefore, it is best to hire a licensed electrician for any electrical project, such as wiring, installing outlets, switches, or fixtures, upgrading your panel, or adding circuits.'
2. Major pipe repairs or replacements
'Plumbing problems may seem straightforward, but hidden leaks, intricate pipework connections, and pressure issues can quickly escalate into major headaches,' warns Chris McGuire. 'DIY plumbing attempts can lead to water damage, mold growth, and even property damage.
'Calling a qualified plumber ensures the job is done correctly and prevents potential water-related disasters.
'Undertaking major pipe repairs or replacements is not just a matter of having the right tools. It requires an intricate understanding of your home's plumbing layout,' adds Josh Mitchell, plumbing expert and the owner of Plumbing Lab.
'Professional plumbers not only ensure the functional integrity of these installations but also maintain compliance with building codes, crucial for your home's value and resale potential.'
Josh Mitchell is, a plumbing expert and HVAC technician and the owner of Air Conditioner Lab and Plumbing Lab
3. Structural modifications
'Structural changes or repairs are another project that you should never DIY unless you are a licensed structural engineer,' advises James Heartquist. 'Structural changes or repairs involve altering or fixing the load-bearing elements of your home, such as walls, beams, columns, or foundations. These elements support the weight and stability of your home, and any mistake can compromise the integrity and safety of your home.
'If you try to make structural changes or repairs yourself, you risk collapsing, cracking, or shifting your home or other parts of your home. You also risk violating the codes, permits, and inspections required for structural work. Furthermore, you risk decreasing the value and appeal of your home or your insurance policy.'
It's wise to consult licensed contractors or structural engineers for such projects, ensuring compliance with regulations and safeguarding against potential structural issues that could arise from DIY attempts.
4. Installing new HVAC systems
'Installing an HVAC system isn't just about placing a unit and turning it on. It involves detailed knowledge of electrical systems, proper sizing for the space, understanding of ventilation dynamics, and sometimes dealing with gas lines,' explains Josh Mitchell, HVAC technician and the owner of Air Conditioner Lab.
'Incorrect installation can lead to poor system performance, increased energy bills, and even pose safety hazards. For instance, incorrect handling of gas lines in a furnace installation could result in dangerous gas leaks.'
5. Major repairs on central air conditioning
'Additionally, central air conditioning units are complex systems,' says Josh Mitchell. 'Major repairs often involve dealing with refrigerant fluids, which require EPA certification to handle, and intricate electrical components.
'Mishandling these elements can not only damage your system beyond repair but also violate legal regulations, especially concerning refrigerant handling.'
6. Sewer line work
'Working on sewer lines isn't just complicated; it's potentially hazardous. The risk of exposure to noxious gases and bacteria is high,' explains Josh Mitchell. 'This type of work also demands specialized equipment for both safety and efficacy, which most homeowners don't have.
'Professionals are equipped to deal with these risks and have the necessary experience to diagnose and rectify sewer line issues correctly.'
7. Gas appliance repairs
'Homeowners should never attempt to repair gas appliances on their own, whether it's installing a gas stove, water heater or a new fireplace,' warns Warner Quiroga, founder and CEO of Prestige Home Buyers. 'Gas leaks can be extremely dangerous and can lead to explosions or carbon monoxide poisoning.
'It's important to hire a licensed technician who is trained in handling and repairing gas appliances. This will ensure that the job is done safely and correctly, protecting your home and loved ones from potential hazards.'
8. Installation of new sanitary or drainage systems
'The installation of new toilets, sinks, or showers transcends beyond mere physical fitting. It involves an understanding of the underlying drainage system, venting mechanisms, and proper sealing techniques,' explains Josh Mitchell.
'Errors in this area can result in severe issues like leaks, blockages, and even sewage backups, posing significant health risks and necessitating costly repairs.
'While certain minor plumbing tasks can be handled by a DIY enthusiast, the more complex and potentially hazardous projects should invariably be entrusted to professional plumbers.
'This approach not only ensures personal and property safety but also guarantees the longevity and reliability of your plumbing systems.'
9. Roof repairs or replacement
'Roof repairs or replacement are another project that you should never DIY, unless you are a trained roofer,' says James Heartquist. 'Roofing is a physically demanding and hazardous job, that requires specific skills, tools, and materials to ensure a watertight and durable roof.
'If you try to repair or replace your roof yourself, you risk falling, injuring yourself, or damaging your roof or other parts of your home. You also risk installing the wrong materials, using the wrong techniques, or creating leaks or gaps that can lead to mold, rot, or pests. Moreover, you risk voiding the warranty of your roof or your insurance policy.'
Can you remove asbestos in your home without professional help?
In older homes, asbestos can lurk in insulation, tiles, or other materials.
Attempting DIY removal poses severe health risks.
DIY attempts at asbestos removal can lead to airborne contamination and
severe health risks.
'If you suspect asbestos in your home, don't even think about DIY removal,' advises Chris McGuire. 'These hazardous materials require special handling and disposal procedures to protect your health and the environment.
'Leave asbestos removal to certified professionals who have the training and equipment to handle it safely and dispose of it according to strict regulations.'
Professionals with specialized knowledge and equipment are essential to safely eliminate asbestos and prevent exposure that can lead to serious health hazards.
While it’s tempting to try and fix things on your own, household components are complex and require a level of expertise and training that goes beyond typical DIY skills. Mistakes can be costly and dangerous, so, unless it is a small task with no complications, it's always best to rely on professionals for these tasks.
If you are unsure if you can do a project yourself, you can consult a professional in the field for the best guidance.
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Lola Houlton is a news writer for Homes & Gardens. She has been writing content for Future PLC for the past five years, in particular Homes & Gardens, Real Homes and GardeningEtc. She writes on a broad range of subjects, including recipe articles, reviewing products, writing ‘how to’ and ‘when to’ articles. Lola now writes about everything from organization through to house plants. Lola is a graduate student, who completed her degree in Psychology at the University of Sussex. She has also spent some time working at the BBC.
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