5 Home Repairs You Can DIY—and 5 You Should Always Hire a Pro to Do

February 9, 2021 Updated: February 9, 2021

When it comes to maintenance and repairs, professional labor can be one of the more costly portions of a homeowner’s budget. While many people opt to save cash by doing work themselves, not everyone possesses the skills necessary to fix their own homes (even with the help of online instructional videos). Attempting a DIY project without careful preparation and a complete knowledge of the task could result in expenses that far exceed the cost of a contractor.

Even if you have the experience and know-how, it’s important to consider the time, materials, tools, and permits required for your home improvement project. Here’s how to know which projects you can tackle yourself, and which you should probably leave to the experts.

1. Fixing a leaky pipe in the kitchen or bathroom.

The verdict: Try to DIY it.

One DIY fix for a drain pipe may be to simply tighten a slip-nut near the P-trap. If the leak is coming directly from a hole in the drain pipe, you could try a flexible coupling with hose clamps. Consider calling in a professional if the leak is from a drain pipe inside the wall.

Hanging wallpaper so it’s straight and smooth can be a challenge; leave it to a pro. (stockfour/Shutterstock)

2. Hanging wallpaper.

The verdict: Hire a pro.

The challenge of hanging wallpaper is keeping it straight and matching up the patterns correctly. Sometimes bubbling can occur, and that strip of paper will need to be removed and replaced. This can result in running out of wallpaper and needing to order more. Don’t want to risk it? Hire a professional.

Painting the exterior of a house is a big job that requires extensive use of tall ladders. (Faye kao/Shutterstock)

3. Painting the exterior of your home.

The verdict: Hire a pro.

Painting the exterior of a house is a big job that requires extensive use of tall ladders (and sometimes climbing up on the roof). Homeowners should consider safety requirements before tackling an exterior job.

4. Fixing a clogged garbage disposal.

The verdict: Try to DIY it.

A clogged disposal may be cleared by using a small specialty wrench that fits into a hexagonal opening on the underside of the disposal while the disposal is turned off.

5. Replacing a faucet.

The verdict: Try to DIY it (if it’s centerset).

Installing a centerset type faucet is something you may be able to do yourself—just follow the faucet manufacturer’s instructions. If it’s a more complicated faucet with several hose connections, you might want to hire a professional.

6. Fixing a running toilet.

The verdict: Try to DIY it.

A running toilet can be comfortably fixed by a DIY-er with a toilet rebuild kit from any hardware store. These kits typically contain straightforward and easy-to-follow instructions. On the other hand, one-piece or specialty toilets can be tricky and might need the professional touch.

7. Installing a light fixture.

The verdict: Hire a pro (probably).

Electrical repairs and installations are at best expensive. Taking a little time to research and understand your electrical system can give you the necessary skills to do some electrical projects yourself. When installing a light fixture, low-voltage projects can be safely performed by a homeowner, as these are less likely to cause structural or bodily harm. Stick with a professional for anything over 50 volts.

8. Installing a ceiling fan.

The verdict: Hire a pro.

Installing a ceiling fan is not extremely difficult but may take a few hours (depending on your home maintenance experience and the size of the fan). If you don’t enjoy standing on ladders and craning your neck for hours, bring in the experts.

9. Patching a hole in drywall.

The verdict: Try to DIY it.

Nearly any homeowner can patch nail holes. Using a spackle knife, fill in each hole with lightweight putty and scrape the excess off the walls. Wait for the putty to dry and sand down the spot until it’s smooth. Then, paint the repaired spots with primer. Larger holes in drywall require more steps to repair and may be best left to the professionals.

10. Replacing a door.

The verdict: Hire a pro.

A new door can help brighten up a space and cut down on heating and cooling costs, but these savings are best spent on making sure the installation job is done right.

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