4 Home Projects You Shouldn’t Do Yourself
By Nancy Clanton, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
We’re staying at home more than ever during the coronavirus pandemic, and many people have noticed things around the house that need to be fixed or replaced. Some projects — painting walls, adding a backsplash — you can easily do yourself, but others should be left to professionals.
Here are four projects and the reasons Roberta Pescow of Financial Fitness says you shouldn’t take them on.
Working on the roof can be dangerous. You’ll have to climb a ladder while carrying heavy materials and navigating a steeply pitched surface. The risks, Pescow says, are:
Severe injury or death:
Roofing work is physically demanding because it involves climbing, bending, kneeling and heavy lifting, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Roofers have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations, as well as one of the highest rates of occupational fatalities. Workers may slip or fall from scaffolds, ladders or roofs. They may also be burned by hot bitumen (a petroleum-based roofing material). Roofs can become extremely hot during the summer, causing heat-related illnesses. There is also a risk of electrocution from accidentally touching power lines.
Manufacturer warranties for roofing materials may cover workmanship for a limited time if the materials are installed by qualified contractors, but they generally don’t cover DIY installation, Pescow said.
Using the wrong materials or an improper installation may damage the roof — and if water leaks in, your home’s ceilings, walls, flooring, furnishings and wiring will suffer.
Everyone has seen mold in their bathroom at some point and removed it. As long as the area of mold is smaller than 10 square feet, the Environmental Protection Agency says it’s OK to do that. A larger mold infestation, however, might require you “to open up walls, lift up carpeting or take out fixtures to fully remove it and clean and dry the space thoroughly,” Pescow wrote. A DIY approach means risking:
Contact with mold may cause asthmatic reactions, sore throat, skin reactions, allergic reactions, eye and nasal irritation, cough, wheezing, shortness of breath and other lung issues if you don’t have proper protective gear.
Harsh chemical exposure:
Chemical cleaners commonly used to kill mold are also harmful to lungs, eyes, nasal passages, throats and skin.
Making the problem worse:
Improper removal or sealing may release mold spores into the air. DIYers may also miss mold lurking in unexpected places like crawl spaces or flooring, which could lead to further damage.
To install a new toilet, you’ll have to shut off the water; disconnect, drain and remove the old toilet; and seal and connect the new one. That’s a manageable task for someone with basic plumbing knowledge. Risks include:
A toilet can weigh about 100 pounds and is awkward to handle. Homeowners may become injured lifting or carrying the toilet.
Sewage gasses are unhealthy and potentially flammable. Failing to stuff a rag in the exposed drain pipe after the old toilet is removed may expose you to dangerous fumes — especially in poorly ventilated spaces, Pescow wrote.
Improper installation, overtightening connections or simply dropping the toilet may cause serious damage.
Leaks and mold:
If the base isn’t sealed properly, water can leak into the floor, damaging and weakening the area while creating the right conditions for mold and mildew growth.
Replacing drafty windows can reduce your utility bills, but only if done correctly. If installed improperly, however, you risk:
Windows are heavy and fragile, bringing risk of injuries from broken glass and lifting. Falls from ladders are also a concern, along with harming passersby if a window falls out to the street.
Poor energy efficiency:
Improper fit or sealing can result in drafts, air leaks and higher energy bills.
A poor seal could allow water leaks that damage your home’s wood, drywall and wiring.
You could accidentally hit a plumbing or electrical line.
Installing your own windows improperly may void all or part of the manufacturer’s warranty.