Should I do my own or hire a professional plumber?

Plumber or plunger? The inevitable question when something clogs, leaks, breaks, or when we seek preventive maintenance is: What do we do ourselves and what is best left to a professional?

Here's what Bayo Taylor, a plumber at Mr. Unclog, had to say.

When to be proactive and when to call a plumber

A preventive step: Have a camera inspection performed on a sewer line and hire a plumber to do it. Otherwise, the homeowner may not know if a clog is imminent, which could prove costly in the long run.

Prevent constipation: Consider using a thinner toilet paper. Older pipes with rust can have thicker paper build up inside.

Another piece of prevention: Install a flood alarm/sensor.

What to do about clogged shower drains?

If you want to try to clear a clog, Taylor said, use an enzyme drain cleaner — don't use anything that contains acid. You can also clean the drain area to prevent debris from accumulating. If the clog appears to be further down a pipe, Taylor says you could try using a manual drain snake device. He urged anyone trying to use a drain snake on their own to be careful and leave it to a plumber instead.

Clogged toilet? Here's what to do

For clarification you can use a plunger. If the problem is unusual and persists, it may be time to contact a plumber. If a toilet overflows, close the valve behind it and contact a plumber.

Can I repair leaky pipes myself?

In general, a professional should take care of leaky pipes, but just in case, you should know where the home's main water stopcock is located.

“In the event of an emergency, this is the first port of call to shut off the water supply to the home to reduce the damage,” Taylor said.

For more tips, visit online.

Michael McKinney covers growth and development in Westchester County and the Lower Hudson Valley for The Journal News/ and the USA Today Network.

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