edubya

When should you call a plumber?

Emily H
4 years ago


sternmccafferty custom glass bathtub · More Info

There are the obvious times when you lack the skill or the problem is too complicated, but I'd love to hear your own personal threshold for making that call.

For me, it was when my garbage disposal backed up into my guest bathtub. Gross. You?

Share your experience! (photos encouraged)

Comments (42)

  • lefty47
    4 years ago

    HI -- Your husband is a very smart man !

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  • Bev
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    So far, we have not had to call a plumber since my husband has been able to fix any plumbing problems we have had over the years. However, in the last house that we lived in, due to the large trees and their roots in the front yard that grew into our septic system, we had to have Roto Rooter out about every 5 to 7 years due to the root problem. My husband always did what he could but it would get too bad for even him to fix! At least it was not as expensive as a plumber (around $150. for one visit).

  • Chikka BangBang
    4 years ago

    Anytime there's a plumbing issue.

  • PRO
    Diana Bier Interiors, LLC
    4 years ago

    Let me count the ways....clogged drains, leaky faucets/toilets/pipes, installation of dishwashers/ice makers/sinks/showers/toilets/tubs/washing machines, etc., and my all-time favorite: when the frozen pipe defrosts and rains water from the kitchen ceiling.

  • KD
    4 years ago
    Any time I don't feel like I can deal with the problem due to complexity, physical requirements, or risk of failure. (I.e. I can't replace a toilet because I can't lift a toilet myself. I could replace a bathroom faucet sink mounted. Anything inside the wall, though, I call a plumber because if I make a mistake and it leaks it'll make a big mess.)
  • Sarah
    4 years ago
    A local hardware store had a huge sign saying: "We repair what your husband fixed".

    We hire a plumber if water is exiting a part of a pipe that's not the spout. We know how to shut it off, but not how to repair it in a good amount of time. Thank goodness for Hank our plumber!
  • oracca
    4 years ago

    Only when the water backed up into our basement because of a clogged pipe

  • chloebud
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    @jdforney..."We repair what your husband fixed"...love that! Our plumber's name is also Hank.


  • Ben Hart
    4 years ago

    When I'm out to sea... or, if I'm home, my arms have fallen off. I have never once called a plumber and I have no plans to.

  • writerinfact
    4 years ago

    Whenever there's still a problem after the Plumber's Helper (AKA My Best Friend) has been tried, repeatedly. (I have two - one in the kitchen and the other between the toilet and tub.) The plumbing here is at least twice my age - and I'm damn near 60. Our plumber's name is DIY Landlord.

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    Concrete Elegance Inc.
    4 years ago

    Only for drain problems under the basement slab. If it's accessible without breaking concrete, we do it ourselves. I solder copper, crimp PEX and solvent-weld drain piping, my husband attaches fittings. But it took us a few mistakes to figure out how to do it well.

  • leslieg2013
    4 years ago

    Hubby and I purchased an old house with a very over grown yard. Hubby worked for years as a pipe-fitter and he'd already begun replacing the old cast iron in the house. BUT when we spotted mounds of wet toilet paper clumped up in the bushes, it was time to call a plumber.

  • kell2028 ell
    4 years ago

    Before the water damage exceeds your bank account?

  • Gerry
    4 years ago
    My son's first apartment was in an older complex and we helped clean and move him in. As I scrubbed the tub, it had a really slow drain so my husband decided to snake it and, voila, the half full tub of water flowed right down. Fifteen minutes later we heard this loud rumble and his downstairs neighbor said his bathroom ceiling just collapsed. We played dumb and blamed old pipes. Then they both had to move out of their respective apartments until it was fixed. Oops.
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    Gwin's Tile Company LLC
    4 years ago

    I've heard the saying "there's two people who'll try to fix a watch, a watch maker and a fool". I've been a contractor for over 30 years doing residential repair and remodeling of bathrooms and kitchens. One of the most common items we are called to fix are a projects the homeowner tried to do themselves. Get an expert. Most homeowners probably make more money doing what they do best than what they save trying to DIY.

  • Denise
    4 years ago

    We can install and change most plumbing ourselves. In our previous home, hubby did all the plumbing himself, very slowly but meticulously. In this house we had a mysterious leak in the main bath when using the shower in the bathtub, but not when taking a bath. We called a local plumber, who not only came a tad earlier than he'd said, but had the right part in his truck, fixed the problem in less than 15 minutes, and charged well under a hundred dollars. So now we know a great plumber for when we redo the other bathroom, which needs fixtures moved. Husband would rather do other, more creative, work around the house.

  • groveraxle
    4 years ago

    I bought the flush mechanism and the guy at Home Depot asked if I was going to do it myself. "Of course," I said. "How hard could it be?' Well, IT was easy, but reconnecting the supply line turned out to be IMPOSSIBLE. Then I figured if I was going to call a plumber anyway, I might as well get a whole new toilet. That led to a new floor and new faucets. Most expensive flush valve ever. ;-)

  • WishICouldAffordThat
    4 years ago

    I literally laughed out loud when I saw this topic. My husband (plumber, plumbing inspector) can fix most things, but oh the things he's seen! Even "experienced" plumbers make ridiculous mistakes (Backfall on the drain? Remove a vent pipe because you want a new closet, then wonder why your house stinks and your sink gurgles? Add a wall and enclose a floor drain? Those are just things that he's seen already THIS WEEK!) Unless you are prepared to accept the consequences in case you make a mistake, call a plumber. But sadly that doesn't always guarantee good results either! Sheesh. Home ownership. Gotta love it.

    Loved the story about the roto-rooter and the downstairs ceiling collapse. Oops indeed. Fun times,

  • thinkdesignlive
    4 years ago
    We call immediately. Much to our own detriment. Just bought a new house so we don't know the history of issues so when we noticed a bit of water under the kitchen sink we didn't wait a heartbeat and called a plumber. He came and tightened up the hose on the pull out faucet. Problem solved in 3 seconds. Guess we could have tried trouble shooting a bit. Oh well, live and learn.
  • susanalanandwrigley
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    My first call for any home repair issue is my husband. If he isn't comfortable taking a stab at it, then we move on to plumber or whatever professional is needed. Don't like to fool around with water issues since the potential for serious home damage is high, but fortunately our plumber needs have been few- other than our renos, of course - usually leaking pipes that need replacement, that sort of thing. My plumbing knowledge is limited to knowing how to turn water off in bathrooms and knowing to let husband know if I hear something dripping!

    Having a good plumber to call is invaluable, though.

    Oh, and edwards4four - friend of mine called a repair person when her bubblejet tub wasn't working. She'd already checked the fuse box, etc. Guy came in, noticed switch on the wall, said I think the switch controls the tub, lo and behold it did. That was a couple hundred bucks that could've been saved! And it's not like it's a new home, it is home they have been in for many years, but anyone can have the occasional brain lapse.

  • bettyandjudy
    4 years ago

    IMMEDIATELY, 2 months to take my diamond earring out of the drain, to only find that the pipe was rusty going into the wall, to find that cutting the pipe was not easy in the closed cramps. I foolishly learned so much from one bathroom, that I decided to do the other bathroom in no time at all, well new problems occurred.

    My problem is that I understand the engineering perfectly, really, but lack all the necessary tools.

    Eventually I called a plumber who came over for one hour, who then charged $100 to fix both of my sinks again and replaced the mechanism in the toilets.

    I will stick with engineering and keeping my earrings on.

  • Najeebah
    4 years ago
    when you have to wade to the phone, it's time to call a plumber...
  • PRO
    The Bee Hive Design Studio
    4 years ago
    I love to fix things in my own house but if it's something I can't figure out. Then I call a pro.
  • nramsey1
    4 years ago

    When water's on the floor.

  • nramsey1
    4 years ago

    When water's on the floor.

  • Ben Hart
    4 years ago
    There seems to be a strong current against DIY here. Hm. I've seen a lot of amazing work that is done correctly and per code by DIYers. All that is required is that you know your limits. If you are inexperienced and unable to read and learn and follow code on your own, then get a pro. Otherwise, there is absolutely nothing complicated about any work done on a home. Given time, talent, and a good support network, there is very little a solid DIYer can't do.
  • oracca
    4 years ago

    Well said, Ben Hart!!! I fully agree!

  • roxsol
    4 years ago

  • kell2028 ell
    4 years ago

    The winner is: roxsolid ; )

  • PRO
    G H Painters
    4 years ago
    great
  • rollinggirl
    4 years ago

    Anytime I can't make the water go the direction it is meant to go.

  • Patti St. John Martin
    4 years ago

    We called Roto-Rooter once because of tree roots but we've done everything else ourselves. I think we've replaced almost everything from the well in, including the well pump and holding tank. Toilets, faucets, cutoffs, drains, you name it. However, we have been talking about replacing a tub with a shower and we'll call the pros to do that whole job.

  • Sharon Ringo Peterson
    4 years ago
    We do what we can but we have had to call a plumber several times to install toilets, leaky pipes, etc. We are retired on a fixed income, so those expenses can be tough but acceptable expenses. I felt like we got treated fairly, but recently we decided to have our old electric water heater replaced with a new $500, 40 gal tank. We were ok with that expense. For a regular install, nothing irregular, over $500 install!!! If we were younger and could have physical!y instal!ed it ourselves, we would have. It took us 6 months to finally go ahead with it. I think its just our area. If plumbers get any more expensive we will be in big trouble
  • J K
    4 years ago

    Uh, had to call the plumber when the toilet backed up and we couldn't plunge it and as my son did the dishes in the kitchen, the toilet began overflowing, flooding the powder room, and running around into the dining room and kitchen. (And it was not "clear" water.) I averted disaster by quickly pulling out my carpet shampooer and "wet vacuuming" the over flow. I called a friend whose family has a disaster clean-up company. He said to call a plumber. The drain pipe was blocked about 21 feet down. Unfortunately, the clean out pipe in the garage cracked when the plumber opened it and we didn't notice for several months since it was behind where we keep our trash can. I spent the rest of the day bleaching the floor so no need for disaster clean up--I did that part myself, but a good plumber was worth it in this case! My expertise stops after plunging.

  • J K
    4 years ago

    When my daughter lost her second tooth, a family friend was babysitting her. She played with her tooth all night, putting it back in the space while looking in the mirror over the sink in the powder room, when she dropped it down the drain. Neither of my kids would let the tooth fairy take their teeth. They wanted to keep them, but the tooth fairy would leave money if they put their teeth under their pillow. My daughter was devastated and cried all night, but I assured her the tooth fairy would still come. Still, she was devastated that her tooth was gone.

    My husband wrote it off while I got the pliers, pulled the drain apart and retrieved her tooth. I typed up a letter from the tooth fairy in a fancy font on "fairy" letterhead, telling my daughter that "I' (the tooth fairy) flew down the drain and got her tooth. My daughter was thrilled the next morning to receive her tooth, a dollar and a very special note from the tooth fairy.

    About a year later, instant replay. Another tooth down the drain. Another night pulling the trap apart (again, no help from hubby), and another letter.

    When my daughter received the letter, she said, "Mom, I think the tooth fairy uses clip art!" Thinking fast on my feet to avoid spoiling the magic of the tooth fairy, I replied, "Honey, the tooth fairy is very busy and has lots of homes to visit each night. She probably had her secretary write the letter."

  • ladma
    4 years ago
    We didn't need a plumber for this! Two teenage daughters.....
  • Bruce Crawford
    4 years ago

    My unofficial rule-of-thumb is for anything that isn't threaded. I've replaced faucets, P-trap lines, garbage disposers, converted antique washstand to vanity & more. But if problem's on supply side & under pressure, I don't want to find out my self-taught DIY pipe union sweat failed when water hammer jolts system. Further, I'm now 70 y.o. In last couple years I've hired plumber to do work I once would have done just b/c my body says it just doesn't want to contort itself to access a hard-to-reach component.

  • calvarylove
    4 years ago

    Before the toilet overflows - tip of the day - ALWAYS have a plunger visible and available for guests:)

  • Seajay Sparkles
    4 years ago
    Calvarylove: Was a guest in someone's home and, you guessed it, toilet got backed up one morning. No plunger anywhere in sight and had to leave to catch a plane. The most embarrassing situation ever! Hence, a plunger has been available in both my guest and master baths ever since. Lesson learned the hard way.
  • Allison .
    4 years ago

    When we need to open up a wall or replace a water heater. I fix all the clogs, leaky drains, etc.

  • geokty
    4 years ago
    Ah yes, the age-old question, "Just how deep does the water have to be before you call a plumber?" :o))