When is it okay to Do It Yourself?


In DIY, Professional advice, Public safety

After a grey winter, many of us are happy to see the long sunny days are back. And on their return, they’ve brought with them the annual Spring Clean. For some, this even goes as far as a newfound confidence to put our DIY skills to the test.

If you already feel like a dab hand at painting or resealing the bathroom, DIY can feel like the perfect place to save some pounds, especially as the cost of living crisis has caused many households to feel the pinch. In fact, research found saving money was the second most popular reason behind why people choose to make a home improvement. But this can be a risky move.

DIY mishaps have cost UK homeowners over £6 billion, with the average cost of resolving the problems being £4,861 - rising to £10,000 for one in ten.

So when is it okay to DIY?

When to be weary

For any plumbing task, we would always recommend seeking a specialist. This is because plumbing and heating systems are particularly high-risk. For example, one wrong move and you could cause a leak or burst pipe. This could lead to extensive water damage or even water contamination and the cost of fixing such damage could be substantially higher than if you sought the help of a professional from the beginning. On top of this, if your home insurance policy does not cover accidental damage or claims and if you have attempted work that you are not competent to do, costs can increase even further.

This means that accidental damage will be expensive at best, and, at worst you could find yourself with a serious injury or, in the case of a heating system, Carbon Monoxide poisoning or gas leaks.

There are other risks too. For example, you may think that because you are working on improvements for your own home, you do not have to worry about regulations. But this is not the case, you still have to abide by the same regulations as a qualified professional. These are often complex regulations that professionals themselves have studied long and hard to understand, so doing it yourself is risky whereas you are in a safe pair of hands when you seek their support.  An inability to conduct work to regulations could not only result in costly repairs or accidents, but could also impact the value of your property and the ability to sell it later down the line.

Ultimately, you should never attempt to do a job you are unqualified or do not feel comfortable to do. An expert will know the tricks of the trade to help with any home improvements or renovations.

Energy saving DIY hacks

While it is always crucial to speak to a plumber rather than carry out works you are unqualified to do yourself, there are a few simple changes you can make that will increase the energy efficiency of your home. These will not only help you to reduce your carbon footprint, but also help cut your energy bills.

Bleeding your radiators is one of the most simple but effective ways to increase efficiencies in your home. It involves removing air pockets within the system to reduce the pressure it experiences so that you don't have to turn the heating up as much. You can test whether your radiator needs bleeding by feeling if it is cold at the top and warm at the bottom.

Before beginning to bleed your radiator, make sure your heating is off and the radiators are cold. Start with the one furthest away from your boiler. Hold an old cloth or a jug, under the bleed valve, and insert the bleed key. Turn it anti-clockwise until air starts escaping, making sure not to turn so far as to remove the bleed valve completely. You’ll know you have turned far enough when you can hear a hissing noise. Do this until water starts to escape. Then turn the key clockwise to tighten the valve. If you have a combination boiler, it is necessary to check if it needs repressurising. Once this is done and all radiators have been bled, you can turn your heating back on to check if they are heating up correctly.

Bleeding radiators is simple and effective, but it is all very well ensuring your heating system is running efficiently if you then aren’t properly insulating your home. Doors, windows, letterboxes and lofts can all be big culprits behind loss of heat.

While insulating the loft is often a job for professionals, especially if it involves rafters, lagging pipework and insulating tanks or cylinders correctly is a relatively cheap and easy task to undertake. The process requires measuring the length of the pipe you want to lag, cutting the lagging material to the appropriate length, wrapping the piping in the material - making sure there are no gaps, and then securing it using insulation tape. For hot water cylinders in airing cupboards, you can buy a cylinder jacket to wrap around them which will help keep them insulated, too.

Increasing water efficiency

It’s not just energy saving tips that can help your home run more efficiently, it's worth considering water too.

While we may be hoping for less rain with the return of Spring, it is always important to keep your gutters and drains flowing freely. Over winter, these can get clogged with debris and old leaves so make sure to clear them if it is safe to do so, or call in a professional.

Further to this, installing water butts in your garden can also be a great way to collect a sustainable source of fresh water which can be used to water the garden.

Inside the home, make sure you know where your stop-valve is and that you can easily turn it on and off. This is vital because, in the event that a leak does occur, it can shut the water supply off preventing substantial water damage while you wait for a plumber to fix it. If the stop-valve is not working properly, make sure to call your plumber.

While you are checking your stop-valve, it is worth regularly checking for dripping taps and leaks. While some may seem small, and a hidden leak can be difficult to spot, the cost builds up over time and is wasteful to the environment. Sometimes this requires simply tightening the tap but if the dripping continues, this suggests something more sinister, so call a professional.

Ask a plumber

Before carrying out any DIY task, it’s always best to consider if you should in fact invest a little more upfront for the services of a plumber. This in turn can save you substantial amounts of money in the long run, particularly for any fixes required as a result of DIY gone wrong.

On top of this, plumbers have lots of helpful tips that can save you money and result in your home running more efficiently, for example installing a smart control. It’s also useful to ask for an annual boiler service and plumbing health check to ensure your plumbing and heating system is running at maximum efficiency, while also minimising the risk of breakdowns and expanding the system’s lifespan.

If you are unsure who to contact we have a handy service on our website where you can plug your postcode and find a plumber or heating engineer.

Visit the service HERE