Plumbing, Pros and Cons of Calling a Professional

Discussion in 'The Club House' started by kbd512, Feb 16, 2014.

  1. kbd512

    kbd512 Well-Known Member Lifetime Supporter

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    Personally, I believe that your property is your responsibility, but there are times when it makes sense to hire someone who knows more than you do and can do the job faster than you can. We just moved into a new house and while it's relatively new (built about 10 years ago) it has some minor plumbing and electrical problems that I've fixed myself.

    I just spent the last two hours installing a new faucet in the kitchen sink. What a royal PITA. The last faucet had leaked at the base and the bracket holding it on was rusted to the point to where I had to use pliers to wrench the bracket off and there were flakes of rusted steel everywhere as a result. I'd never have thought such a small piece of steel could've produced so much rust. Thankfully, the new faucet was easy to install.

    I have several more of these projects, one of which is replacing the hot water heater with a tankless unit. The other projects are relatively minor, replacing more faucets, shower heads, and a toilet.

    I'm not sure what it costs nowadays because I haven't hired a lot of plumbers or electricians. Is it worth it to just hire someone to fix the problem? Do you guys generally have good luck with plumbers and electricians or are you mostly DIY?
     
  2. Axxe55

    Axxe55 The Apocalypse Is Coming.....

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    just about a month ago i replaced our water heater. it took me pretty much all day to get it done. yes it would have been easier to call a plumber, but much more expensive. as long as i can do the job myself and am capable od doing it, i refuse to pay someone to do the job for me. i am very mechanically inclined and quite capable and with the internet, i am able to learn quite a lot about things i don't know about.

    electrical, i do defer to my father as he was an electrician for many years. he has talked me through figuring out a few electrical issues in the past and helped me get the job done without having to resort to an electrician.
     

  3. nitestalker

    nitestalker New Member

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    Humm? I thought water came out of the ground hot or cold? Do you mean there is a machine in my house making hot water. Damn, what will they think of next. The world is changing so fast. I just heard people back in New York were putting Soft drinks in their whisky. :eek:
     
  4. JonM

    JonM Moderator

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    For the water heater hire someone.

    Faucets shower heads and toilets are very easy. There is surprisingly little holding a toilet to the floor. I've done more than a few. First one I did was 3 hours mainly cuz there was no youtube at the time just a picture step by step book. I did a complete toilet a few months ago in a rental in about 50 minutes.

    With toilets the key is draining all water first and drying the tank. You can use a plunger to force most of the bowl water down the sewer pipe. After that its easy. If you don't get rid of the water first its a unholy mess.
     
  5. Rocky7

    Rocky7 New Member

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    I gutted the house we're living in some years ago and did most of the reno work myself, including a lot of the simpler plumbing stuff - install tub, instal toilets, faucets, etc. Raised the showers from where the plumber I hired put it, water purifier, stuff like that. Ran both new and additional lines to the outside, incl. a hot water line.

    IMO, most of the challenge with plumbing is just knowing which one of 76,900 fittings will fit onto other fittings. If plumbing parts were standardized, we'd only need 1/2 as many plumbers.

    Buy some good "How To" books with photos (Home Depot books) and have at 'er.

    ps: If you have all that rust in less than 10 yrs, I'd think you need to have a look at water treatment gear. If so, I'd highly recommend a H2O2 system - awesome iron remover - and a softener behind that. Your fittings should not have decayed that badly in less than 10 yrs., I think.

    Good luck.
     
  6. kfox75

    kfox75 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The pros and cons of hiring a professional are as follows. pros for the pro:

    If they mess up, it is on them to fix it.
    Generally, if it is done by a pro, you know it's done right.
    If another part is needed to make it work most of the time they will have it with them.

    Cons:

    Cost.
    having to work with their schedule.

    The only advantages to DIY work is the satisfaction of doing it yourself, and lower cost if all goes right. the flip side is that it will almost always cost you more if you DIY, and it turns out to be a Cluster F&%(, because the pro has to undo your mistakes to find and fix the problem.

    That being said, if I can do it myself I do. If in doubt, I find a friend who knows what they are doing to help or teach me how. If i know from the start that I am in over my head, I call in the pro.

    Note that i don't say expert. X is an unknown quantity, and a spurt is a drip under pressure. I have no need for an unknown drip under pressure. ;)
     
  7. Quentin

    Quentin New Member

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    I'm getting a little old but still do plumbing and electrical work around the house. No formal training but most of the work is fairly obvious, especially after doing jobs over the years. Like Axxe said you can find helpful YouTube videos, take a look and you can determine if the job looks too complex before starting.
     
  8. Axxe55

    Axxe55 The Apocalypse Is Coming.....

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    my father said PVC pipe was one of the greatest things ever invented. i have to agree. without PVC pipe and glue, i doubt i could be able to complete some of the plumbing repairs i do take on.
     
  9. DrFootball

    DrFootball disappointed & disgusted, But DETERMINED... Lifetime Supporter

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    I've got an "Extra Special" water line for outside,..3 different 1/2" lines with some pressure behind them....for those "nasty" feral Cats that come around harassing Dogs and domesticated cats...
    They get the high pressure line. I have a decent "Aim" with a 30+ Foot stream...I never saw Gator smile so much.....!!!
     
  10. Doc3402

    Doc3402 New Member

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    I'm going to ask a simple question.

    1. Do you work for a living? If yes, see question 2.

    2. Do you carry workman's comp and disability insurance on yourself for your home repair projects? If No, see question 3.

    3. Can you afford to live without income?

    Hire a pro for the jobs that could hurt you. If they get hurt they have insurance. Hire ONLY licensed and insured contractors. Never be afraid to ask for and verify their coverage. The life you save may be your loved ones.
     
  11. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member

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    Doc has some very salient points.

    Now, having said that, there have been times when I was too broke to pay attention, and had no real option other than doing it myself. Sometimes with advice, sometimes with a book in hand.

    For electricity or water- IF you are going to do it yourself-
    Rule 1. TURN IT OFF.
    Rule 2. See Rule 1.

    Know how to check for current. Test equipment can be had for less than $10, and can last years if you take care of it. Learn how to use a VOM.

    Once had a heating element go bad on a water heater. Well, I can replace THAT. Turned off the 220 breaker to the heater. Removed cover. Stuck test leads on contacts. 110v. I had a bad circuit breaker. 2 legs- one was stuck in the "on" position. If I had stuck my screwdriver onto the connection screw, would have been bad juju.

    About 3 years ago, panic call from second oldest grandson. A new homeowner, he had decided to replace a dripping single handle tub faucet. When he unscrewed the handle, stream of water the diameter of his thumb shot across the bathroom, hit the wall, began running down the stairs.

    He NOW knows where the master shut off valve is located. Took us about 6 hours with my wet-or-dry vacuum, and several days with a dehumidifier to get the house dried out.

    It was funny several months later- but not at the time.
     
  12. WebleyFosbery38

    WebleyFosbery38 New Member

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    Im in axxes corner on this, I will never pay someone to do something that I can do myself "Nearly as well". That last phrase is very subjective, you need to know your own capabilities cause the Home Depot Dork will nod their head "yes you can" every time if you ask the "Is this something I can do?". Ive literally saved $85K in renovation labor/ parts costs by DIYing in the last 20 years and 2 homes, none of the jobs were substandard in the end, just took a little longer than a pro.

    While I didnt do this purposely, I tend to gravitate towards other tradespeople as friends and buddies cause they like me work with their hands in unison with their brains! That can be a gift that never stops giving because they know my capabilities and will tell me how to or how not to do just about anything I can ask them. Occasionally, we trade trades, "I will fix your TV, could you come up and tune up my boiler?". I didnt put in my own Hydronic heating system, I dont mess with $4000 Boilers risking life, limb or the very expensive boiler without the experience to do so! After helping two of my buddies do it 11 years back, I would do it now, its no big deal once youve helped do one (except moving the boiler itself, they are a bit heavy for a one man lift). If you do one, try Pex Al Pex, Its awesome stuff and you can run 100' of it in less time than a real plumber can do 20' of copper and really old houses dont give you great pathways to begin with!

    Nearly anything called renovation or repair can kill you, thats a fact and some folks shouldnt be trusted with a Styrofoam screwdriver, they just dont have that kinda brain or the right hands to do it safe and correct. Those poor folks are like one legged men in an *** kicking contest, sorry but no tools for you!!!! If your one of these, you probably know it already, if you dont know it (or refuse to admit it), hopefully a friend will tell you before the Tragedy occurs instead of waiting to visit you at the hospital or morgue!

    Any young person that wants a real life and home would do better learning how to do anything themselves they can before they embark on becoming a DIY homeowner or get rich and hire it done. OJT without a trainer can be deadly, dont do it!
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2014
  13. Doc3402

    Doc3402 New Member

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    I didn't mean to imply not to do some DIY stuff, but the OP was talking about a water heater. You have water, electricity, and weight involved with that job. You may get the water turned off, kill the main breaker, check both to verify, and still blow your back out when you go to move the thing. It also seemed like he was asking advice on whether or not he should handle it, and that tells me he needs to give serious thought to hiring a pro for the stuff he has doubts about.

    I know I'm overly cautious about a lot of stuff, but remember that I spent a long time picking up the pieces behind stupid people. I can't tell you how many meters I've had to pull over the years because some homeowner decided he could repair his own washer. I came very close to losing a partner on one of those calls when she tried to get to the breaker panel to kill power.

    While I'm on that subject, if any of you ever decide to build a house, please locate the electrical panel in an area that doesn't have a water source nearby. Putting the panel in the laundry room is about the dumbest thing I have ever heard of.
     
  14. WebleyFosbery38

    WebleyFosbery38 New Member

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    Totally agree with you Doc, even the pros get hurt doing it right when things go wrong and the human body doesnt do 30 amp conduction well without killing something in you. And as c3 pointed out, if you cant use a Multimeter correctly, you should stick with things that run off alkaline batteries.

    Some folks even think car batteries are OK to play with, "its only 12 volts afterall". I assure you, if you have 300 cold cranking amps @ 12 volts go through your body, the cranking amps capability wont be the only thing that are cold, your body will be dead and cold soon also!

    Now for those who think pros dont make mistakes, I can tell you your dead wrong and their are way too many headstones that dont tell the whole story, "he died doing what he did best in life, just made one mistake". I have been an electronics technician for 30 years and I still get whacked when I least expect it and usually when Im doing something I know better than to do. Friends of mine havent been so lucky, a couple have bit the big one doing things they had done 1000 times before without issue.

    If you find yourself saying things like "Do you think I can do that?", you probably already know the answer. Phone a friend, one with a trade like what your thinking you want to try, if he wont help you, maybe you cant be helped and should stick with the things you do well and call a tradesperson!

    Short funny story Ive told for years, if youve heard it, just bear with those who havent. I was a young aprentice in the 80's in a TV shop when my boss answered a phone call from a frantic wife with a DIY Husband! The call goes something like this- Sir, My husband was working in the back of the TV fixing it and he grabbed the big red wire going to the picture tube, now he's shaking on the floor, is he going to be OK?", Boss replies, "If he's alive, he's probably going to be alright but maybe you should be calling the Emergency room, not a TV Shop". That was good advice considering he had grabbed the high voltage dag and survived a Kilivolt Frankenstein hit! Low current but high voltage, he was lucky, only tested his heart, if he had grabbed line current, the call would have been a bit less funny.

    One more that shows you its the stupid things that get us even if were smart like me. Last week after another deluge of snow and my cantankerous Cubby tractor and Snow Blower rig kept plugging up so I did exactly what Ive done a hundred times before, a quick sweep of the chute with my fingers without sticking them in the chute. Well, that didnt go so well, fingers went deeper than ever before and contacted the impeller! I now have a broken middle finger that bent back over 180 degrees and severe embarrassment over doing something I knew was wrong and living through it without losing body parts. I was sooooooo lucky to be wearing heavy leather gloves or my bird would no longer be flying. I dont tell this story cause Im proud, its because I dont want you to do the same ever, youre likely not going to be that lucky.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2014
  15. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member

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    Webley- glad you did not have to learn an alternative shooting grip.

    I hear "but it's only 120 volts." Listed as Cause of Death on more certificates than any other voltage. 10 milliamps thru the heart, it is now in fibrillation.

    The gent laying on the floor quivering? He just found out why they were called "flyback" transformers. Short out the lead, that screwdriver is going to fly back and whack you in the face!

    And Doc- have been amazed at the number of folks that (a) cannot figure out to DRAIN the old tank before trying to move it, and (b) cannot figure out they need to FILL the new tank with water before powering up.

    As far as that 12 v battery, I have a bank of deep cycle batteries for my bass boat. Can also run an inverter to power deep freeze for a few days. 4 each 155 amp/hr batteries. Can turn a ring or metal watch band white hot in a blink.
     
  16. WebleyFosbery38

    WebleyFosbery38 New Member

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    Me too, holy crap that was way too close, Ive got 2 friends that didnt do as well as I did when they had their Oh Sh!t Moments with a Snowblower, chop chop! Fingers actually fly farther than snow when propelled by an impeller of that magnitude!

    Ive got scars on my hands from doing the flyback/ Hi-V regulator Tube involuntary hand yank in old metal monster TV's back in the day! The High voltage was the least of the damage, blood did flow and often. I do normally exactly what most electricians are warned not to do, work on highly energized electronics gear. Its the nature of the beast in my line of work, cant avoid it and still troubleshoot a broken WhatchamacALLIT Thingamajiggy. Ive worked in Science labs for 2 decades now and Microwaves, Xrays and Lasers are another worry some thing, cant see them or feel them. Self Conduction just goes with the territory, you will get zapped, not if, when!!! Its not flyback transformers anymore, Switching power supplies are my new nemeses, those suckers will grab you! Ive learned lots of techniques for stance so that if I become connected by chance, gravity will disconnect me.

    Car batteries are real killers and more folks have corterized a finger or two with a wedding ring, a 1/2" wrench on battery terminals grounding through it than snowblowers have ever removed. Its a pretty gruesome burn but they dont bleed much! Just head down to the Emergency room and have them chop it off after if its still attached!
     
  17. John_Deer

    John_Deer New Member

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    If I can find someone who will pass the savings from their wholesale account on to me I will let the pro do the job. What I save on parts will just about cover the wages of the pro plumber. About the only thing I insist on doing my own people is replacing a submersible well pump. Over the years we have replaced as many submersible well pumps as many journeyman plumbers. We have never pulled up a submersible pump that was installed properly. Every pump we pull up it's the same thing, no torque arrestor, no wire shields, no safety rope, no check valves... Installing a pump properly adds over $100 on to the cost of materials. But your pump will last 30 years if installed properly.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2014
  18. Axxe55

    Axxe55 The Apocalypse Is Coming.....

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    the water heater i replaced was not my first one, as i have done several over the years. i know how to read a multi-meter and own no less than four of them. but i have to agree that safety is the biggest key to doing a job yourself rather than hiring a plumber or electrician. i think a person should be realistic about their abilities in doing some home repairs, especially if they involve water or electricity. i have done a couple of house renovations over the years and have bought the tools over the years to do just about most any type of job. plus i like tools!

    i have learned to estimate the time needed to do a job myself. if i figure about half a day, i double that and figure it's probably going to take the better part of the day ot complete the job. by doubling my figure i usually come pretty close to the actual time i spend doing the job.
     
  19. WebleyFosbery38

    WebleyFosbery38 New Member

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    You forgot to factor in the self adulation and admiration time! A job well done deserves some downtime to appreciate what you've accomplished, resting on ones laurels isnt a bad thing when done in moderation! That can add hours to a job and up to three jiggers of really good Whiskey! If its a multi day job, you might better get a whole quart!
     
  20. SB777

    SB777 New Member

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    Just don't forget the primer. I've seen many a PVC connection blow apart under pressure only to find out the installer skipped that step.