Gather ’round for some scary stories of unlicensed home improvements and potentially lethal DIY repairs.
Read on for some frightening stories — just in time for Halloween.
If you’ve ever read any do-it-yourself blogs, you know that no matter how handy someone is, trying to fix an appliance can be a recipe for disaster.
Consider the helpful husband whose wife noticed that the top unit of their double oven had a warped metal panel above the broiler. Instead of calling a repairman, he decided to fix it himself. It turned out to be an expensive — and nearly lethal — mistake.
Grabbing his toolbox, he unscrewed the warped heating element. As he pulled it into the oven body, he heard the dreaded crackle of live wires. The light went dark, and the room filled with the smell of burnt electrical components.
He had forgotten to turn off the breaker, which not only put him at risk of electrocution, it made the problem worse and likely negated any warranty he might have had.
This is one of the many nightmare stories that get passed between repair professionals, who often get called to fix the problems these DIYers only make worse.
It’s easy to fall prey to the DIY allure, says Stephen Melman, director of economic services for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Even though he spends his days with licensed contractors, he has made some DIY rookie mistakes himself.
Last summer, Melman, who is not an electrician, broke a light socket in his basement while replacing a bulb. Instead of hiring an electrician to fix it, he purchased a new plastic socket and set out to replace it himself. But the seemingly simple project went south when he accidentally ripped out the connecting wires because the insulation was old and hard to strip. He eventually had to call an electrician.
“The final improvement was better than originally intended,” Melman says, “but we needed to use a flashlight to get to the basement for a time, which was inconvenient if not dangerous.”
Fortunately, that project ended safely. But they don’t always.
Some DIY projects can be much more precarious. An inexperienced electrician or a do-it-yourselfer can electrocute themselves just by forgetting to switch off a breaker or brushing up against the wrong wire. Every year, for instance, emergency rooms across the country treat DIY roofers who fall off — or through — their work in progress.
There’s also the risk of going with an unlicensed contractor, which may seem like an economical compromise, but leaves homeowners completely vulnerable, Melman warns.
“What if there is a flood or fire during the work process?” he says. “Or what if they attempt an addition then can’t complete the work before winter or bad weather hits?”
An unlicensed and uninsured contractor is most likely not going to absorb the costs that come with these scenarios.
What if they go bankrupt or disappear prior to completing the work?
“The customer would be in a difficult situation if the service provider were not bonded,” Melman warns.
Cutting corners with cheap labor can result in unfinished or poor-quality work, added expenses on the back end, and if you aren’t careful, an unplanned trip to the ER.
The lesson? Even the handiest homeowners can get in over their heads. If you have a project you’ve never done before or one that has a lot of risk (i.e., anything involving electricity or heights), work with a professional. Avoid these spooky repairs gone wrong experiences in the future by not assuming you or that cheap contractor can do the job.
Avoid these horror stories by enlisting the help of our appliance experts at the company voted #1 in appliance repair, Sears Home Services. Schedule your repair today!