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DIY vs. Professional Fix: Know When It's Time to Call the Pros

DIY projects can be fun, satisfying, and seriously cheaper than hiring a professional. At the same time, it’s good to know your limits – and when it’s best to hang up your tools and call a professional. Here are a few helpful tips to assist you in deciding whether or not your DIY project is something you could (or should) handle yourself.

DIY projects can be fun, satisfying, and seriously cheaper than hiring a professional. At the same time, it’s good to know your limits – and when it’s best to hang up your tools and call a professional. Here are a few helpful tips to assist you in deciding whether or not your DIY project is something you could (or should) handle yourself.

Do You Have Adequate Knowledge on the Subject?

Part of the fun of doing a DIY project is learning something new. That is to say, if you’ve never done something before, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t tackle it. However, it’s critical that you do your homework and learn all you need to know to perform the task adequately. Take our post on upgrading your outlets to include USB ports as an example before starting, a DIY-er should be able to easily answer these questions:

  • Which circuit on the breaker powers the outlet of interest (and how are you going to check it)?
  • How many wires should you see once you expose the electrical box?
  • Which wire is the ground wire, and what should you do if it’s absent?

This is just an example, but if you can’t answer these types of questions for any DIY project, it’s time to either hit the books, or call for help.

Do a Quick Risk Calculation

Calculating the financial cost of a DIY project (vs. its professional service price) might be the first analysis to come to mind, but it probably shouldn’t be – especially for electrical projects. A better way to approach your project is a safety risk calculation. This could look something like:

  • What is my goal, vs. what is the risk to my safety (or that of my family or neighbors?)
  • Are there elements of uncertainty that I can’t control which could potentially do serious harm?

Aside from considering the risk to yourself and others, also find out if you’re even allowed to perform the work. Some projects require a license or a permit, and performing this work without one could result in fines, insurance denials, and more.

Don’t Let Time be a Factor

Here’s a scenario: it’s 10:45 pm, and you’re about to go to bed. You flip a light switch, and begin hearing a fizzing or popping sound from behind the switch. Your first thoughts may be: “it’s late, and nobody is open, so I’ll have to take care of this myself.” This could be a life-threatening assumption. Emergency electrical services exist, so never allow time to be the deciding factor for whether or not you tackle a DIY electrical project.

A good rule of thumb is to trust your gut. If something feels off, or if you’re feeling unsure of yourself, it’s time to get professional help. Remember, DIY electrical projects can be far more hazardous than building a coffee table or fixing a pair of headphones. When in doubt, call the pros to protect the safety of yourself, your home, and your family.


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