6 Jobs Best Left to a Plumber

Written by Elizabeth Dunn
Updated September 16, 2015
Plumbing pipe
Be aware of when you're getting in over your head on a plumbing task. (Photo by Summer Galyan)

An inexpensive plumbing problem can quickly turn into an costly fix if not repaired correctly.

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Homeowners can make small plumbing repairs by following directions found online or in repair manuals. Some jobs, however, are better left to the professionals.

As a homeowner, you could spend hours of your valuable time finding the problem, or worse, you might not repair it correctly. A small water leak can quickly turn into thousands of dollars of damage, and plumbers charge a premium to make an emergency call.

1. Permits

Plumbers stay up to date on local, state and national codes and regulations. A bathroom remodel or adding a gas line to your backyard for your grill will require a permit and inspection. A professional will know what permits to pull and make sure the job will pass inspection.

2. Low water pressure

Low water pressure can be caused by a number of problems that occur anywhere between the well or city water supply and the water lines. Trying to find the cause by yourself can take hours, but a professional plumber can quickly troubleshoot the problem and fix it.

3. Frozen pipes

A frozen pipe can quickly turn into a disaster if the pipe bursts. Shut off the water main and call a plumber. You may be tempted to thaw the pipe yourself, but a professional knows how to thaw the pipe without cracking it or causing more damage.

4. Sewer line problems

If your sewer line is not draining properly, the most likely cause is a tree root plugging the line. You can rent a machine to fix the problem, but this job is best left to the professionals. Trying to remove the tree root can cause extensive damage to the sewer line, but a plumber can resolve the issue without causing further damage.

5. Problems with the main line

If the main line is blocked, your toilets will start to flow into the tub or shower. Repairing the main line requires special equipment most homeowners do not have. You can rent the equipment, but professionals have the experience to use it to get the problem fixed quickly.

The average cost to repair a main water line is between $1,500 and $3,000.

6. No hot water

A number of problems can lead to no hot water. Unless the tank is visibly leaking, it can take hours to find the problem. A professional can troubleshoot both gas and electric heaters to quickly find the problem and make repairs.

How do you make the decision whether or not to call a plumber? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below.

Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article originally posted on Aug. 14, 2012. 

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