Don’t Try This at Home: 9 Potentially Problematic DIY Projects

Even if you're a avid DIY homeowner, there are still a bunch of home improvement projects that you'll need to hire a professional for. Don't try these at home.

By Benjamin St. Jacques

 

Are you among of the many homeowners who consider themselves to be a die-hard do-it-yourselfer? Taking on projects yourself is a great idea — most of the time. But sometimes tackling a project yourself may void warranties, pose health risks, or even run afoul of the law. 

 

Here’s a list of projects that are better for you to leave to the professionals. 

 

Whacking Your Walls

If you’re remodeling, or moving to an open floor plan, then there’s nothing more satisfying than taking a sledgehammer to a wall that’s in your way. But your town may require a permit, especially if the wall in question is structural. Even worse, swinging before thinking can lead to some irreparable damage to your home. Be sure to consult with a professional who can help you with a safe (and satisfying) demolition. 

 

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Photo by shutterstock

 

Eliminating Old Insulation

If you want to install insulation in your attic yourself, then have at it (as long as you take the proper safety precautions). But if there’s insulation that needs to be removed first, call a professional. Insulation in older homes most likely contains asbestos. Improperly handling asbestos can put your health as well as the health of your family, pets, and neighbors at risk. That’s why there are laws aimed at preventing homeowners from disrupting insulation that potentially contains asbestos. 

 

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Photo courtesy of EPO

Thermal insulation of a pipe. The insulation is made from asbestos fiber.

 

Taking Down Trees

Trimming small branches from large trees is one thing, but cutting down an entire tree isn’t something you should do yourself. Aside from being dangerous, your town may have laws and regulations that may lead to big fines if a tree is removed improperly. A certified arborist will be familiar with your city’s ordinances regarding tree removal. Plus, he’ll have liability insurance that will cover any damage that may result from the unexpected, like a tree falling in an unintended direction. 

 

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Photo by dreamstime

 

Getting Into Some Hot Water

An experienced do-it-yourselfer may be tempted to install a new hot water heater themselves. But this job isn’t like replacing a kitchen faucet or even installing a washing machine. You’re dealing with electricity, gas lines, and water pipes: a dangerous combination. One error can lead to carbon monoxide leaks or even an explosion. A licensed plumber is definitely needed for this job.

 

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Photo by dreamstime

 

Pumping the Septic Tank

You may not need much convincing to let a professional handle this task. Unpleasantness aside, pumping septic tanks requires professionals who have the specific equipment and permits to dispose of the waste properly. 

 

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Photo by dreamstime

 

Installing a Skylight

Skylights are great additions to any home but if installed incorrectly, the manufacturer’s warranty will be voided. Plus, one wrong move and you’ve got a big hole in your roof. Doing this job correctly requires the skills of a roofer and a window installer. Hire a professional to ensure the job gets done accurately and safely.

 

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Photo by shutterstock

 

DIY Pest Control

Laying down a few mousetraps to catch mice is fine. But if you’ve got bats, raccoons, squirrels, or skunks in your attic or on your property then contact a wildlife-control company. They’ll remove the animals humanely and clear away nests, dispose of droppings, and close up any openings. Trying to clear out these critters yourself with traps is illegal, plus it’s likely that your furry friends have rabies, so it’s best to leave critter control to the pros. 

 

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Photo by dreamstime

 

Removing Lead-Based Paint

Was your home built before 1978? If so, then it’s highly likely that’s contains lead-based paint, which if ingested, is highly toxic — even deadly. If you want to repaint your walls, that’s a job you can do yourself. But first, hire professionals to first remove the old lead-based paint in a safe and responsible way. 

 

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Photo by dreamstime

 

Terminating Termites

If you find out that you have termites, then your first instinct may be to run to the store and pick up the strongest pest killer you can find. Unfortunately, that won’t work. There are no consumer-grade products that can handle a widespread termite infestation. You’ll need the professional-grade products that can only be administered by professional exterminators.

 

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Photo by dreamstime

 

If you love working on your home, then you know there are plenty of projects just waiting for you. But when it comes to the jobs listed above, avoid the danger, aggravation, and potential legal issues by hiring a professional.