10 Things You Should Never Touch in Your House

Sometimes a DIYer has to know their limits.


Call a pro for mold removal:

  • If you can smell mold, but you can’t find the mold or moisture problem.
  • If there is so much mold that you can’t remedy the problem easily.
  • If there are highly susceptible individuals in your home. This could include those with respiratory conditions such as severe asthma or allergies, and those with a weakened immune system caused by HIV, chemotherapy, or an organ transplant. Young children and elderly persons may also be more susceptible to mold-related health issues.
  • If there are other hazardous materials present, like asbestos or lead, that will be disturbed or removed along with the mold. Hire a contractor who is licensed for those mold removal hazards.
  • If moisture has created structural problems. Consult a qualified contractor to do the repairs or a structural engineer to advise you on what needs to be done. Here are 12 hidden signs your house could have toxic mold.

Main drain to the street is clogged

If you suspect that your main drain to the street is clogged by tree roots or caved-in pipes, then it’s probably time to call in the pros.

You’ve got three options if you’ve got tree roots clogging up pipes, none ideal: Continue reaming the lines periodically, cut down the trees, or call in the pros. Larger sewer-cleaning companies will ream out the line or actually send a mini video camera inside the pipe to determine exactly what the problem is. They’ll find out if the line is crushed, cracked, or sloped improperly, or if tree roots are worming their way through cracks or loose joints. Then they’ll recommend a course of action, which could be:

  • Digging up the old line and replacing it with plastic.
  • Treating the line with a poison formulated to kill nearby tree roots. That way it’ll take much longer for new roots to cause problems. These poisons are designed to kill just problem roots—not the whole tree.
  • Sealing the line by lining the existing pipe with an internal plastic fabric and cement. Companies have been doing this for years on larger lines and are just beginning to line residential ones. Chances of finding a local company that does residential sewer lining are slim, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
  • One of our editors has the same recurring problem as you. He got tired of the $100 service call every year (always on a Sunday while entertaining friends), so he bought his own $400 power auger and cleans out the lines himself. You can also rent one.

Additions and major remodels

When planning an addition or home remodeling project, time is money and the more time spent on the project, the more it will cost in the long run. While it may be tempting to do the project yourself to save money, you never want to find yourself in the middle of a project unsure of what to do next.  This is especially true if you run into a problem, or worse, lose motivation and never get the job done. These are the situations when you want to hire a pro—here are a few more situations you shouldn’t attempt to DIY. 


If your older home has asbestos or lead, hire a pro for removal is often the best solution. Both can be harmful to your health if ingested and a professional will ensure all three are completely removed, properly and safely.

Driveway repaving

Driveway repaving can be a difficult home project for a DIYer because to do it properly the surface must be level or you’ll end up with a cracked, crumbling driveway. You can certainly do some driveway patching yourself. But when it comes time to repave, hire a pro who has the proper tools to do it right which will save you money in the long run. Here’s the definitive guide on how often you should be cleaning everything.

Foundation work

A home’s stability relies on a proper foundation. If your foundation is cracked, crumbling or in need of some repairs, repairing it is probably not a DIY home project. And hiring a professional will give you peace of mind in knowing your home is safe from serious structural issues.

Septic tank

If your home has a septic tank, it must be pumped by a pro.

Pumping removes the buildup of sludge and scum, which slows down bacterial action in the tank. Your tank may need pumping each year, but it’s possible to go two or three years between pumpings, depending on the size of your tank and the amount of waste you run through the system. Ask your inspector to make a rough recommendation for how often your tank should be pumped.

Water in the basement

If you had a sewer backup, washing machine drain water spill, or river flood, you need professional help. Pros are the only ones with the proper equipment to get your basement dry and disinfected in the shortest possible time.

To find a certified water restoration professional, search online for “Water Damage Restoration.” Look for IICRC (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification) credentials in the company information (Servicemaster is one company that is fully certified). Or, go to iicrc.org and click on “Locate a Pro.”

Be aware that pros can give you a rough price estimate (the average cost of a basement cleanup is $2,500), but the final cost depends on how long it takes them to dry out your basement. There are just too many variables beyond their control (inside and outside temperature and humidity levels) to give you a set price up front. Be wary of any company that gives you a set price over the phone.

Bare wire

Naturally, you need to be ultra-careful when doing electrical work and you should never touch a bare wire. Instead, try a non-contact voltage tester to double-check the outlet and to make sure you turned off the right circuit.

Gas line

If you’re installing a gas fireplace, you’ll want to call in an expert to run the gas line during the framing process. Plus, check out the things you need to touch because you haven’t cleaned them before in the video below. Read on for the 35 things every homeowner needs to know.

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Originally Published on The Family Handyman