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Don't Always Do It Yourself

Sep 21, 2016

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Are DIY plumbing repairs a good way to save money?

It seems like everyone’s a plumber these days: a quick Google search of the term “diy plumbing” reveals 10.5 million results. With all the step-by-step plumbing tutorials readily available at our fingertips, it’s a wonder that we aren’t all installing whirlpool bathtubs and new copper pipes into our homes ourselves.

Sure, there are some easy plumbing repairs that almost anyone can complete to save a few bucks. DIY Network, for instance, shows how you can simply break up a clog or adjust the water pressure on a showerhead.  Handyman explains how you can fix a leaky faucet just by tightening the valve stem packing nut. These are the types of small jobs that every relatively coordinated homeowner should be able to make him or herself.

But mistakes can still be made! You would be surprised by how many people get soaked, in a literal sense, when working on their own plumbing issues.

CroppMetcalfe has serviced the Washington, D.C. metro area since 1979 and our people have cleaned up a lot of messes. That’s why Ben Kelley, director of residential operations for CroppMetcalfe, emphasizes that the number-one thing everyone should follow when attempting a DIY plumbing repair is -- hold your breath -- turning off their water.

“Always shut off the main water supply valve before getting started, or if your home allows, you can isolate certain areas,” Kelley says. “Watching videos online helps, too, so you know how it’s done prior to trying.”

When it comes to plumbing, now your limit and stay within it.

Although there are many resources available online for aspiring weekend plumbers, it doesn’t mean you should fire up YouTube and jump right into a major project, like rebuilding a toilet -- a common DIY project.

“Most people will only change the flapper, or the flush valve,” Kelley notes. “They don’t realize all of its inner workings need to be rebuilt, which takes a lot of experience.”

Other seemingly straightforward plumbing repairs and projects you should not attempt include:

  • Replacing burst pipes
  • Installing a toilet, bath or shower
  • Connecting a sewer line
  • Building a new bathroom

The dangers of putting off a plumbing problem


I’m pretty handy and I’ve done my homework. What could possibly go wrong?

A lot can go wrong if you don’t fully understand what you’re doing. Ask yourself these important questions before beginning any DIY project:

  • Do I have the right tools?
  • Have I done anything like this project before?
  • Do I (or more importantly, my family) have the time to do this project right -- especially if there are unforeseen complications?

Plumbing repairs generally require much more time than most people think. This means your bathroom is out of commission for that duration. Check out this disaster story of a DIYer, who turned his second half bath into rain shower when he cut a pipe just as his child used the bathroom upstairs.

Rarely do DIY plumbing projects go exactly according to plan -- especially when you realize that the problems you are trying to fix are further complicated by another DIYer who rigged together an inefficient solution before you bought the house. If you find yourself with a bigger issue than anticipated, you and your family could be rediscovering the design flaws of toilet technology.

Think in terms of dollars and sense.

Water destroys everything. While the cost of hiring a professional to complete plumbing repairs may seem like a lot more than buying the parts and doing the work yourself, the damage you inadvertently cause can be catastrophic. Slow leaks that go unnoticed can turn into thousands of dollars in repairs. When you call a plumbing repair service, you’re getting a warranty and peace of mind that the job is done correctly the first time, without any extra hassle.

“One of the worst DIY plumbing repairs we’ve ever seen was when a homeowner tried to unclog and rebuild their toilet,” Kelley says. “They successfully allowed the toilet to drain, but did not clear the clog. So the repairs did not hold and the toilet began to run as the clog grew stronger. Evidently, the homeowner was on vacation when the toilet overflowed, which caused $125,000 in damages because it was on the third floor.”

Don’t let this happen to you!

One of the biggest problems with DIY plumbing is that it can be very difficult to pinpoint when you’ve gone too far.  If you have questions, concerns or begin to doubt yourself, just drop the tools and pick up a phone.

In the Washington D.C. and Virginia areas, CroppMetcalfe is one of the most trusted names in plumbing repairs. Their 5-Star plumbing technicians have all the experience to solve any issue. Check out plumbing repairs on CroppMetcalfe’s site for more information.


What Our Customers Say...

"I've been a CroppMetcalfe customer for 9 years and you have always provided outstanding service. I just had my semi-annual maintenance done, and I wanted to thank George for the truly outstanding service, professionalism, and excellent advice. He is definitely one of the best 5-Star Technicians I've had! Thank you CroppMetcalfe!"

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