4 Common Issues You Shouldn’t Try to Fix Yourself
Updated: Sep 6
There are a lot of complex frameworks behind the creature comforts that transform average, ordinary buildings into homes, workplaces, and schools. As a property manager, it’s easy to feel a sense of ownership over these systems, and when issues arise, it’s natural to want to roll your sleeves up and try and fix the problem yourself (not to mention the money that you would theoretically save in the process). However, while it’s tempting to attempt to navigate a seemingly normal plumbing or heating malfunction armed with nothing but a toolbox (and several “How-To” articles pulled from Google), what you may see as a cost-saving measure might actually end up costing you an arm and a leg – figuratively, of course.
With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of 4 common property issues that are best left to the professionals to handle.
Replacing a Hot Water Tank
Out of hot water? A quick glance at your water heater might convince you that it’ll be an easy fix – it’s just a big tank, simply unscrew it, dispose of it, and screw in a new one. Easy right?
Well not quite.
Photo by Valdemaras D.
First off, many water heaters’ warranties will be voided if they aren’t maintained or serviced by a certified professional, so unless you’ve figured out a way to make your new water tank last forever, you may be doing yourself a disservice in the long-term. Furthermore, your water tank is most likely connected to a gas line, which can be extremely dangerous to try and work with. A water tank that is incorrectly installed could lead to a leak or carbon monoxide emissions, both of which can easily go unnoticed until they become hazardous to your health.
Then of course, there is the risk of explosion. Conditions such as faulty anode rods, too much sediment buildup, and the aforementioned gas leaks can cause pressure to build up in your tank, eventually causing it to burst (usually taking a chunk of your roof with it). For example, every water heater has a temperature and pressure relief (TPR) valve, which is meant to expel excess pressure when the water exceeds 150 PSI in pressure or 210 degrees Fahrenheit. When the tank is poorly installed or maintained, these valves can often malfunction and remain shut, causing upwards of 85,000 pounds of pressure to build up until eventually...
While you’re less likely to blow yourself up trying to fix a broken air conditioning unit, there are still plenty of risks associated with trying to fix it on your own. Air conditioners run on a complex system of vents, pumps, and fans, all of which play a vital role in their ability to work effectively and efficiently. What might start as a simple turn of a screwdriver could easily lead to having to up-end your entire HVAC system if the wrong screw gets turned. In the end, this only extends the time you’ll have without air conditioning, and it’ll only take a few minutes under the August sun to have you regretting all your life’s decisions.
Pictured: Your unventilated office after 20 minutes of August heat.
In addition, attempting to repair your air conditioning unit solo can also run the risk of causing a refrigerant leak. Like cheap takeout food, refrigerants - the chemicals used to cool the air coming into the unit - are odourless, tasteless, and deadly. Even if you manage to avoid puncturing a tube and spewing toxic gas everywhere, subpar DIY repairs can also reduce the overall quality of your air, allowing contaminants and allergens to spread all over your building. Finally, much like water tanks, many air conditioning units come with a warranty that can be nullified with DIY repairs. In short, calling a professional to look at your air conditioning unit is much simpler than having to deal with it on your own and potentially risking a fatal refrigerant leak or worse – a very sweaty summer.
Just short of working with gas lines on the EAMA Danger Scale is working with electrical wiring, which offers many of the same issues as attempting to DIY repair an air conditioner or water tank. In addition to having to be wary of building permits, code violations, and breaker boxes that may be incorrectly labelled, trying to repair any electrical issues on your property can lead to – shockingly (sorry) – electrocution. There’s little margin for error when it comes to electrical work; a small mistake could impact your entire electrical network or cause damage to your property – and potentially to you or your tenants.
Odds of discovering hidden electricity-based superpowers? Very slim.
No, we’re not talking about a leaky faucet or a toilet that won’t flush properly – those are totally fine to handle on your own. However, if you’re dealing with plumbing issues coming from a variety of different sources on your property, it’s best to call an expert (like your friends at EAMA) before you start rooting around the pipes.
Much like electrical wiring, plumbing systems within a building are vast, complex, and mostly found inside the walls. Unlike trying to DIY electrical repairs, however, you’re much more likely to cause a flood trying to fix your plumbing, either by forgetting to shut off all the water valves or by fiddling with the wrong pipe. Another thing to consider is that your pipes probably aren’t getting constant love and affection behind those walls and may have grown rusted and hardened in the interim.
We've all been there, right?
Photo by RODNAE Productions
A stuck screw or valve could look like it just needs a good tug with a wrench or some percussive maintenance, but this tends to be an easy way to rack up replacement pipe costs. In the end, it’s much simpler to call somebody who’s trained and specialized in dealing with the network of pipes behind your walls.
Ultimately, whether you’re dealing with electrical, plumbing, cooling, or heating issues, trying to handle things yourself will most likely only cost you more in the long run. Before thinking about turning your property inside out to fix a few “minor” issues, consider calling the certified experts at EAMA. Our team of specialists has a wealth of experience in fixing all manner of electrical, plumbing, and mechanical problems effectively, efficiently, and at a reasonable cost. We’re here to give you peace of mind and the ability to focus on what really matters - running your business.