What Are the Risks of Doing Plumbing Work Yourself?

June 10th, 2020

There are many reasons to take on projects and repairs around the house. They can be really fun and rewarding and it’s great to learn new skills. And learning to take care of the mechanical systems in your house is an important life skill to develop. Plumbing, however, is one of the most challenging areas to tackle. Beyond cleaning the trap under your sink or replacing a faucet in the bathroom, larger plumbing jobs can come with some inherent risks (even besides the risk of flooding your house).

Not All Plumbing is Created Equal
Each house is different when it comes to its plumbing system. Factors that can affect the design and layout of your plumbing system are; the age of the house, whether the house is connected to a municipal water and sewer system or a well and septic system, and previous owners’ modifications that comply to older building codes (or don’t comply to any code at all). No matter how your plumbing system is set up, if you aren’t able to understand the whole system, you may run into problems when you start a repair or renovation.

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know…Plumbing-wise
Plumbing systems are complex. It is more than just connecting hollow pipes that go from point A to point B. Let’s say you are looking to make a repair on some plumbing in your house, you might assume that the way the plumbing exists currently is correct, but there could be issues you may not be aware of: the original plumbing could have been done incorrectly, the plumbing could have been done according to outdated code, or you could have uncovered old, unsafe material- like vermiculite covered pipe or lead piping- and not know. If you touch a vermiculite covered pipe, the entire thing must be replaced and could cost you a lot more time and money than you planned to spend. And watching YouTube videos for guidance is tricky because the advice in one video may not be what’s right for your plumbing system…and you wouldn’t know.

Assuming the Risk Yourself
It’s important to remember that when you do any work on your own property, you may be assuming the risk for any damages to the property (let alone injuries to a person). Your insurance may not cover the cost of damages resulting from work you take on yourself. There is also no warranty on the work you do yourself. A qualified professional will have liability insurance and warranty their work, taking on the risk for the work themselves.

If You Can’t See It, Leave It to the Professionals
Whether it is a lack of knowledge of the best material or product for the job, not knowing how to properly vent your plumbing, or taking on a repair or renovation project that is just too big for you to manage alone, be wary of attempting plumbing work in your own home. A professional plumber will be able to assess the cause of the plumbing issue you’re having or provide valuable advice on how to do the work required. When it comes to plumbing, the risks involved in doing work yourself (financial risk, personal injury risk, and damage to your property) are actually quite high. One rule of thumb, if the plumbing issue exists where you can’t see the pipes, call in a professional!

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