Below are helpful tips for home repair…working with, or without, a professional. Also, I included tips for finding a great contractor, when you are ready to call in a pro.

As a plumbing industry expert, I write a monthly column for Plumbing Heating Contractor News – These tips appeared in one of my columns, aimed at contractors, encouraging them to embrace homeowners who want to D.I.Y. – “do it yourself!” There is a time and place for the homeowner repair! And, note that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure…especially when it comes to plumbing.

Ellen Rohr with WrenchD.I.Y. or D.U.M.B.? – Home Repair Tips from The Plumber’s Wife

As a service professional, is it ever OK to recommend that your customers D.I.Y.? What can they do…and what should they never do…when it comes to home repair? Sometimes a botched D.I.Y. job can lead to additional, more costly repairs. Sometimes the problem stems from a professional job, done poorly. It is a testament to plumbing and heating pros that the systems– properly installed – work as well and as long as they do. However, ultimately, even rock gives way to the power of moving water (See: Grand Canyon.) Wear,water, weather, neglect and abuse are all reasons that somebody – the homeowner or a professional tradesperson – is going to have to fix or replace every mechanical home component by and by. As a Plumber’s wife, I have been hearing job stories for 30 years. As an industry expert and business consultant, I’ve had the opportunity to visit hundreds of PHC shops. Often, I put on the company uniform and Ride Along with the Plumber or Heating Professional. I’ve learned a lot about service and repair work.

Here are my homeowner tips to share with your customer…

Start with prevention…

Don’t flush the wrong stuff. My husband, Hot Rod the Plumber, has an old camera that he fished out of a toilet. (Surprisingly, the customer didn’t want it, but asked for the film to be removed!) My contractor clients have found disposable diapers (um, those are supposed to be trashed, not flushed) GI Joes and whole stalks of raw broccoli (?) in toilets. Children require supervision, and basic plumbing system and safety instruction. Once, when I was 11 years old, my girlfriend and I crafted homemade candles and poured the leftover wax down the drain. Ugh! Toilet locks are a good idea for homes with kids aged 3 and under. Check out Safe Kids Safety Tips. (Note, however, it wasn’t a toddler who flushed the diaper or the camera!)

Don’t use those over the counter drain cleaning chemicals! They are noxious and caustic and dangerous. You don’t even need to read the mile-long warnings on the label. You know that these powerful chemicals can harm you and your kids. Here are emergency first aid instructions if you need convincing.  These chemicals are also problematic for the pipes and wreak havoc on the water supply.

Go ahead and DIY…

If you want to keep up on basic home maintenance, it’s a good idea to educate yourself about your equipment. Plan to be home when new systems and components are installed, so you can communicate with the contractor who does the work. Learn how the system functions. Ask what you can do to keep it operating at peak performance.

Many service calls can be avoided by addressing a few simple things yourself. You may try un-jamming your sink garbage disposal with the provided allen