Most of us experience plumbing issues on a periodic basis. You might notice that the sink is backing up, or that your showerhead isn’t exerting as much pressure as it used to. In many cases, these situations are easily resolvable; you can look up a guide online or rely on knowledge you’ve gained from previous incidents to apply a fix.
However, if the situation is more complex than it seems, or if you run the risk of making things worse with a manual intervention, your best course of action is to call a plumber. How can you know the “right” time to take this step?
Why You Need to Call a Professional
First, let’s establish why it’s important to call a professional plumber, rather than trying to do the work yourself.
Emergency intervention. Some plumbing situations are genuine emergencies. If you don’t act quickly, or if you aren’t able to apply an appropriate fix, the results could be catastrophic.
The danger of making things worse. There’s also a good chance you could make things worse if you try to apply a fix yourself. If you conduct yourself in the wrong way, you could cause permanent damage to your plumbing system.
Improved quality. Even if you know what you’re doing, a professional plumber will likely be able to do higher-quality work. Their fixes will last longer, and will be more functional in the long run.
Saving time. How long is it going to take you to learn how to make this fix? How long to gather all the parts? And how long to troubleshoot the issue as you attempt to fix it? A pro will be able to complete the job faster, resulting in less stress and quicker results.
When to Call a Professional
Generally, you’ll want to call a professional plumber in the following situations:
Major leaks and other clear emergencies. If you notice a major leak, like the kind that comes from a burst pipe, it’s important to call a pro as quickly as possible. Feel free to take some basic intervening measures, like turning off the water to mitigate the flow or placing a bucket to catch the water. However, these clear emergencies are best handled by a professional.
You have no water. You may also notice a lack of water throughout your house. There are several things that could result in this eventuality, so take a few basic steps first. For example, make sure the main water shut off valve isn’t closed, and check to make sure you’ve paid your last several water bills. If that doesn’t resolve the situation, it’s important to call a plumber right away.
Your water heater isn’t working correctly. There are many indications that your water heater may not be working properly, with the most obvious being a lack of hot water throughout your house. However, you may also notice inconsistent heating, or physical signs, like a “sweating” water heater. Water heaters can sometimes be fixed with basic maintenance, but this isn’t always the case. If functioning improperly, the high temperature and high pressure conditions of the water heater can be dangerous to everyone in your house. As an amateur, you might end up making the situation even more dangerous.
Your home lacks water pressure. Some water pressure problems can be resolved with simple measures, like switching or cleaning your showerhead. But if you have low pressure throughout the house, it’s probably the sign of a much bigger issue—and something only a pro plumber can handle.
A clogged drain isn’t responding to basic measures. Most drain clogs can be resolved with one of a handful of measures, like using a wire hanger to clean out the drain physically or using boiling water to clear the drain. However, if these simple steps aren’t doing anything, call a plumber before doing anything drastic.
Faucets won’t stop dripping after basic intervention. Similarly, if you have a dripping faucet, you can often fix it by simply tightening the connective components. If that doesn’t seem to be working, you’ll need a professional to step in. Leaving a dripping faucet unattended can end up costing you a ton of money in the long run, and your problem may grow even worse.
You notice a sewage smell. Deep blocks or clogs can often result in a sewage smell propagating throughout the house. If you notice this, you’ll need to take action by calling a pro.
As a general rule, you should feel free to conduct plumbing inspections and fixes only if you’re very confident that you know what you’re doing. If you’re out of your depth, or if a potential fix seems more complicated than what you’re used to, you’re better off hiring a professional.