Know when itâ€"s OK to DIY and when it pays...

Know when itâ€"s OK to DIY and when it pays to call a professional. Credit: deepblue4you/Getty Images/TNS/Brad Tollefson/For A-J Media

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 try to save money by doing the work themselves, not everyone has the skills necessary to fix their homes, even with the help of instructional videos.

Attempting a DIY project without careful preparation and 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 a look at some projects you can tackle yourself, and some you should probably leave to the experts.

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

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.

2. Hanging wallpaper.

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.

3. Painting the exterior of your home.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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