Billy Gafford manages Handyman Connection, a company dedicated to bringing Birmingham-area homeowners the best in handyman and home repair services. In this article, he outlines a few common home repair techniques that should only be attempted by those in the know.
In the last few decades, the handyman business has changed a lot. Most Americans would call a handyman or contractor for nearly any kind of job in the past. But the situation has changed considerably since I first started out in the handyman business. Chains like Loews and the Home Depot tout phrases like You can do it; we can help and shows such as This Old House and pros like Bob Villa are constantly showing you ways you can do it yourself to make changes or repairs to your home. All this is great, and I applaud these shows and stores for giving people the confidence to pick up a hammer or paint brush and get a little elbow grease going.
Unfortunately, theres also a downside to all this newfound optimism. Sometimes you cant do it yourself. False handyman bravado leads a lot of people to tackle jobs theyre just not qualified for. The results can be catastrophic to their homes and often dangerous as well. So before you head out to the hardware store, consider that a few tasks are still best left to the pros. Here are some examples of commonly botched home improvement techniques as well as some DIY tips on what not to do.
Blowtorches and Welding
Blowtorches have a lot of uses in construction and repair. They are always pressurized, and their flame-throwing gas tanks can be extremely dangerous when wielded improperly.
Though these wires are often buried on your property, they technically belong to the electric company. Do yourself a favor and dont dig them up. If your power goes wrong for some reasons you cant understand, call the power company or a licensed electrician.
General Electrical Work
Another common DIY foible is the belief that electric work is easy. In fact, the home electrician is often electrocuted, shocked or causes a major blowout to his homes electrical system. If you dont know where the breaker switch is, you have no business trying to install your own ceiling fan. The amount of electricity running through a socket is a small force, I suggest not trifling with it unless you know what youre doing.
Stay away from your homes gas line. It is a dangerous component of your house if not respected. You can puncture a line and cause a slow leak or worse.
Nail guns of all sorts are dangerous and not a great tool for beginners or amateurs. I am constantly hearing stories of impaled fingers and flying nails nearly missing a kids eye. I frequently come across deck and roofing jobs rife with hundreds of extra nails. This is no more than damage to your home. Excess nails will cause fractures in wood and beams, and do a lot more harm.
Tree work is also one that a lot of people attempt themselves. If you are not trained or accustomed to operating a chainsaw while suspended from a harness, I suggest you leave this job to the pros.
General Power Tools
A few safety precautions need to be learned when you operate any electric saw or power tools. Many people simply buy power tools, plug them in and promptly lose fingers or worse. Emergency room techs will concur with me that these are some most common household injuries. Take a shop class or a few basic lessons from a friend who knows more. And always follow instruction manuals fully on any new power tools you buy, because the manuals are written by people who have tested these tools repeatedly and know the best ways to use them. Read the little books and do what they say as it could save you a lot of aggravation.
Here is only a small sampling of the common techniques and jobs botched by the home repairman. My intention is not to scare you off from doing it yourself, but rather to keep you aware that many common home repair practices can be dangerous. Keep it safe and youll be guaranteed many satisfying home projects for years to come.