I’m a home expert & 9 DIY projects can badly damage your house, step away from the pressure washer and call a pro | The Sun06/15/2022
TRYING a DIY project to save money is tempting, but home experts warn it can cause big trouble.
Whether you're upgrading an outdated home fixture or trying to make an "easy" repair, there are a few home projects you need to call in the professionals for.
The home experts at Bob Vila shared a list of DIY projects you should never take on, no matter how achievable they seem.
Unless you're a certified professional in these fields, don't try the following repairs at home.
PRESSURE WASHING YOUR HOUSE
Using a pressure washer on your siding is satisfying – who doesn't want to watch layers of grime fall away in an instant?
But the fun chore can result in major problems, especially if you get too vigorous with the equipment.
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"Using the machine improperly can significantly damage your siding and shingles," the experts at Bob Vila warned.
"Even if you do know how to use a pressure washer properly, you can still damage your home’s exterior if you pressure wash it too frequently," they added.
If you really think your home needs pressure-washing, then call in a company to do it for you. But there's a good chance you don't need heavy-duty cleaning, anyway.
"It’s generally a better idea to wash siding and shingles with a garden hose," the pros advised.
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UNCLOGGING YOUR DRAIN LINE
You've probably purchased chemical cleaners to clear clogs from kitchen or bathroom drains.
What you may not realize is that those chemical cleaners are only safe for partial clogs – and using them on a complete clog is dangerous.
"When a drain line is completely clogged, though, the chemical drain cleaner doesn’t have anywhere to go," the experts explained.
"It sits in the drain line and eats away at the clog, and the powerful chemical components can also corrode your pipes."
If you have a complete clog, it may be time to call a plumber. But first, instead of using chemicals, try a drain snake to physically dislodge and remove whatever is preventing water flow.
PAINTING OVER EXISTING COLORS
Don't waste time, money, and energy painting your interior walls without first making sure that your paint will stick.
A common error many homeowners make is using latex paint over an existing coat of oil paint, which will only lead to problems down the line.
"If you have ever painted a wall and had to deal with the paint peeling, chipping, and cracking just a few weeks or months later, though, you may have used the wrong type of paint," the experts wrote.
"If you use latex paint to cover a coat of oil paint, the latex won’t bond well to the oil paint underneath," they explained.
"Even though it will initially cover the old paint, you may have a chipping, peeling mess on your hands as the latex dries."
Double-check what kind of paint is already on your walls before you embark on a new color journey, and if you can't find that info yourself, call in the pros.
BUILDING WHEN YOU HAVE A SEPTIC SYSTEM
Your septic system might have a "septic field," which is an area used for wastewater drainage.
"A septic field’s open area may look like a great place to install a shed, floating deck, or gazebo, but building structures on a septic field can create significant septic system problems," the experts warned.
For example, the weight of a deck or gazebo could easily collapse pipes, leading to clogs in your septic system.
"Placing structures on a leach field also prevents the growth of beneficial vegetation, which normally reduces the effects of erosion and helps break down waste in the soil," the experts warned.
INSTALLING NEW FLOORING
Tearing up old flooring is no fun, and definitely requires professional input.
But you can't just skirt the issue by installing brand-new flooring on top of the old, experts warned.
"More often than not, old flooring will have existing damage, like chips, cracks, or stains," the pros wrote.
These imperfections create a laundry list of problems: small spaces can fill with mold and mildew, new flooring can sink into existing indents and suffer damage, or pieces of the old flooring can come loose and dislodge your new floors.
Skip the DIY on this project and ask professionals for help.
FIXING FLOOR GAPS WITH WOOD FILLER
Of course, instead of installing new floors, you might want to spruceup your old ones with the help of wood filler.
This isn't a great plan, either – and can result in big cracks in your floorboards, or crumbling wood filler that causes damage.
"Unless you are using a flexible wood joint compound that retains its elasticity, filling floor cracks with wood filler can end up making floorboards look even worse than they did initially," the Bob Vila team warned.
Though you might be satisfied with your results at first, foot traffic can cause problems when pressure bends the floorboards.
CONCEALING AN ELECTRICAL JUNCTION BOX
If you're tempted to hide your electrical box because it's an eyesore, you should know that doing so is breaking a rule.
"Hiding a junction box behind drywall or in a cabinet is actually against the National Electrical Code," the experts warned.
Electricians need quick access to junction boxes when there’s an electrical issue in the home.
"If the box is concealed, the electrician might have to cut holes into walls to find the right junction box and resolve any problems."
Instead of hiding the box, look for a spiffy front cover online – there are plenty of safe, affordable options.
HIDING YOUR OUTDOOR AIR CONDITIONER
Similarly, your AC might have an ugly outdoor unit that's just begging to be covered up.
But you have to leave the eyesore out in the open, the Bob Vila team said. Here's why.
"In an attempt to improve their curb appeal, homeowners might plant trees, shrubs, or bushes around the AC unit to conceal it," the pros explained.
"Unfortunately, this attempt at camouflage can actually cause the air conditioner to become blocked, preventing proper ventilation and clogging the entire system."
To stay cool and safe this summer, leave the AC clear, no matter how hideous it is.
DUCT-TAPING HVAC LEAKS
Ah, the DIY pro's mantra: duct tape fixes everything. Ironically, though, experts say you shouldn't be using this standby on your HVAC unit.
"Duct tape was given its name because it was once the best option to fix HVAC systems," the experts admitted.
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"For most HVAC applications, however, it’s better to use aluminum tape, which creates an airtight, waterproof seal and keeps leaks properly plugged," they explained.
In other words, put down the duct tape and reach for aluminum tape – or better yet, reach for the phone, and call an HVAC repair specialist who can get your unit working again.
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