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Plumbing DIY no-no’s: When is it time to call a plumber? 

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Homeowners see a leak or clog and assume it’s an easy DIY job. However, plumbing is deceptively difficult. 

Oftentimes, it’s not a simple fix. Even experienced DIYers can make a problem worse by misdiagnosing an issue or installing the wrong parts. 

Just like the Kenny Rogers song, “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em; Know when to fold ‘em; Know when to walk away.” 

Below are five times when skilled DIYers should put down their toolbelts and pick up the phone to call a plumber: 

Drain Line Clog 

Loose hair, soap scum and other debris can impede water flow through drainage pipes. Homeowners typically don’t notice until water begins pooling in a sink, bathtub or shower. 

DIYers often attempt to remove clogs with liquid drain cleaners designed to remove stubborn buildup. If chemicals are powerful enough to eat away debris, though, they’re also strong enough to eat away at your pipes. 

Pro-Tec Plumbing offers a variety of options to remove clogs. A professional-quality drain snake can dislodge smaller blockages, but hydro-jetting has emerged as a highly effective solution for residential and commercial customers. Hydro-jetting uses a powerful, high-pressure hose to blast water through pipes and sewer lines. Restaurants often use hydro-jetting to remove grit, grease and grime that builds over time. 

Toilet Overflows 

Toilet clogs are a common household problem. DIYers can temporarily fix most clogs with a plunger. That allows water to flow again, but doesn’t address the three most common reasons that toilets clog: 

  • Behavior: Toilets are designed to remove human waste. Clogs form when people throw too much other stuff into the toilet – toilet paper, baby wipes, paper towels and facial tissues. These items form clumps that are too large to pass through pipes and ultimately clog sewer lines. Never dispose of baby wipes in the toilet. 
  • Buildup: Waste and debris can build up inside drainage pipes, especially in areas where pipes connect or curve. Additionally, some older low-flow toilets are not powerful enough to push out waste. 
  • Faulty parts: The parts inside a toilet tank often cause toilets to malfunction. A float should fall and rise during the flush cycle, stopping when the tank is full. Faulty flappers and valves also are responsible for many leaks. 

Experienced service technicians diagnose the root cause of a blockage or overflow, fixing issues before they cause larger problems. An overflowing toilet can cause slip-and-fall safety hazards as well as structural issues if wastewater damages a bathroom floor. 

Garbage Disposal 

Residential garbage disposals are designed to remove soft food waste, like fruit and vegetable scraps, leftovers and other food particles. However, improper usage puts a strain on any disposal.  

Leaks can occur when seals corrode or drain lines loosen. In cases where water leaks through the bottom of a disposal, it’s time to replace the unit. 

Remember, a garbage disposal is an electrical appliance, and electric and water don’t mix. That’s why repairing or replacing a garbage disposal on your own is a DIY no-no. 

READ MORE: Down the Drain: Garbage disposal do’s and don’ts 

Water Heater Replacement 

A water heater is another appliance where electric and water co-exist. Some homes in Southwest Florida also feature gas water heaters. In either case – electric or gas – only a trained professional should repair or replace a water heater. 

Professional plumbers will recommend an appropriately sized water heater for a home and shut off water, electric and gas before beginning work. They will know how to remove and install water heaters according to manufacturer recommendations and building codes. Most importantly, water heaters often require professional installation for warranties to remain valid. 

Main Line 

A main line, or sewer line, connects homes to the septic tank or the city or county wastewater system. This single line carries water from sinks, showers, toilets, washing machines and garbage disposals. As such, it can become clogged with various types of debris. 

If a main line is partially clogged, water may occasionally back up into drains. A complete blockage means no one in the home can shower, wash their hands or use appliances. 

Main line clogs are definitely not DIY jobs. Main lines have an access point that oftentimes is outside of the home. A plumber will locate this access point to investigate the clog, and then begin addressing the source of the blockage. 

What can a DIYer fix? 

There are basic plumbing jobs that a skilled DIYer can tackle with relative ease, including: 

  • Minor leak repair: Leaks at the faucet or connection points below the sink can be fixed by tightening screws or fittings. 
  • Handle replacement: Most sink and shower handles are installed using standard screws, making replacement an easy task. Remember to shut off water prior to removing any fixtures. 
  • Shower head replacement: Many fixed-mount, handheld and combination shower heads screw onto a fixed pipe extending from the shower wall. After cleaning mineral deposits and old sealant, wrap thread on the new fixture with seal tap. Then simply screw the new shower head into place. 

Do you know when to fold ‘em and hire a professional? Pro-Tec Plumbing & Drains is here to help!