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DIY plumbing jobs vs when to leave it to the experts

20 Jan 2017

Dealing with plumbing problems like a clogged drain or running toilet can be frustrating. But before you reach for the spanner and don your apron, take a minute to think about whether the job at hand is suitable for DIY.  

To unblock a clogged drain, start off with a simple plunger – this will often solve the problem. If that fails, pour bicarbonate of soda down the drain, let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse it away.

While some plumbing jobs are easy to do yourself and can be finished off in just a couple of hours, some jobs can go wrong if attempted by someone without the proper skills.

Thomas Reece, from Plumbers Johannesburg, says for those jobs you're better off calling an expert plumber.

He says an expert will come armed with all the tools to diagnose and fix your problems. So which plumbing jobs are a go for amateur DIY enthusiasts, and which are best left to the experts?

Thomas shares some key tips…

1. Do unclog the drains  

Unclogging the drains is an easy DIY task that you can do at home in just a few minutes. Don't start by reaching for the drain cleaner though.

Store bought drain cleaners contain harsh chemicals and can damage the pipes, so only turn to those as a last resort.  

Start off with a simple plunger – this will often solve the problem. If that fails, pour bicarbonate of soda down the drain, let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse it away.

Replacing old pipes might seem like a quick and easy job, but this is one for the experts.

If your drain is still clogged, you can try removing the sink trap and passing an auger line through the drain to shift the blockage.  

2. Don't replace old piping  

Replacing old pipes might seem like a quick and easy job, but this is one for the experts. Replacing old pipes is surprisingly difficult and putting the new pipes in is even more complicated.  

Unless you are absolutely certain of which sections to remove and how to plumb each one back in to the exact right position, replacing piping can quickly become a messy job that will cost a lot to fix.

Save yourself the money and hassle by letting the professionals deal with it from the outset.  

3. Do fit a new showerhead

Showerheads are surprisingly easy to replace. Simply take a good look at your showerhead and note down what kind it is, and head to your local DIY store. There you'll find a replacement for your showerhead, and the store staff can help you with any queries you may have.  

If your geyser is sluggish or not working at all, it's time to call in a professional. Among other things, repairing or replacing the geyser may involve working with gas lines, which is not a DIY job.

The process of fitting a new showerhead takes a few minutes and is typically as simple as unscrewing the old one and fitting the new. Minor leaks can easily be fixed with Teflon tape.  

Even if your showerhead is working well, switching it out for a low flow one will save you money on your water bills, and is better for the environment too.  

4. Don't try to fix your geyser  

If your geyser is sluggish or not working at all, it's time to call in a professional.

Issues with geysers can result from several issues including faulty lines, cracks, broken components or sediment build up.  

Once the cause is isolated, repairing the geyser could become a delicate task. Among other things, repairing or replacing the geyser may involve working with gas lines, which is not a DIY job.  

One little mistake could leave you without a working geyser or cause costly damage. It's definitely best to call in an expert.  

5. Do fix a running toilet

A toilet that runs constantly is irritating. Fixing it might seem daunting, but in fact, this type of toilet repair is quick and easy.

A toilet that runs constantly is irritating. Fixing it might seem daunting, but in fact, this type of toilet repair is quick and easy.

In most cases, a running toilet is caused by either the flapper or the ball in the cistern not working right.  

Start by repositioning the ball or flapper so that it covers the water inlet snugly. This will often fix the problem. If it doesn't, head on down to your local DIY store, buy replacement parts, then all you need to do is take the old ones out and replace them.  

6. Don't remodel your bathroom

It's all too easy to see gorgeous bathroom remodels online or in magazines and get carried away with the idea of doing it yourself. In reality though, a bathroom remodel is best left to the experts.

Installing or moving sinks, toilets or tubs, takes care and expertise to get it right.

From routing pipes correctly to dealing with sewage drainage, remodelling a bathroom is a job for professionals. Done well, a bathroom remodel can add value to your home.  

Some plumbing jobs are a quick and easy fix that you can do cheaply. Others, however, are more complex and require an expert touch. Knowing the difference will save you a lot of hassle and money. 
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