DIY or don't: When you should let the experts take over

Don't Waste Your Money

September is one of the best times of the year for “do it yourself” (DIY) projects because the weather is just right.

But before you get out the hammer this fall, there are some home projects you should not attempt on your own.

DIY OK: Lamp repair, Driveway sealing

Greg Gordon, store manager of Oakley’s Loesch Hardware, said more homeowners are tackling projects like rewiring lamps and patching their driveways.

These, he said, are both simple and safe DIY projects anyone can work on.

DIY OK: Light switches: Changing a wall light switch is fine too– as long as you turn the circuit breaker off first.

"The average person can do that,” Gordon said. “They should turn the power off, but most switches are two or three wires, simple to do."

DIY Don't: Roofing, House Wiring

But jobs like roofing – unless you've been trained to safely walk on a pitched roof – should be avoided.

Also not good to try on your own: Stringing electrical wiring through your walls. That's a job for a licensed electrician. If an amateur does it, no matter how good you are, your home will not be up to "code."

Gordon said many people attempt plumbing repairs these days to save labor costs.

So we went to Joe Halpin, owner of Halpin Plumbing in Cincinnati, to ask what's DIY OK and what’s not when it comes to plumbing.

DIY OK: Sinks

"Most people can easily repair their own sink faucet,” Halpin said. “Take the head off, take it apart and you can access all the parts."

Halpin said newer faucets use interchangeable ball valves, available at hardware stores.

Also fine for amateurs, cleaning a clogged trap under the sink.

"You can disconnect the lock, and pull the trap loose, run a cable back past the drain," Halpin said. Basic toilet repair, such as replacing the flush tube inside, is simple and a great DIY project.

Not OK: Pressurized Pipes: Halpin said amateur plumbers should not attempt copper pipe repairs that require soldering with a hot torch.

"If you don't get it all in, you will create a leak,” he said. A slow water pipe leak can lead to $10,000 in damage to your home.

The biggest DIY don't: Gas: Pipe repairs involving natural gas, either on a furnace or hot water heater.

Leave the gas to a pro, as there is too much risk of explosion or asphyxiation.

Our tip: Dozens of YouTube videos and smartphone apps will help you plan a DIY project. Just Google the project you want to do, and you're sure to find a video.

Those online videos will also let you know if a project may be too difficult – and that way, you don’t waste your money.

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