DIY Disaster: Yes, Some Appliances Need Professional Installation (& Here's Why)

The DIY ethic is a great way for homeowners to save money and maintain control over home projects, but things can go south really fast when someone is out of their depth. A project that was supposed to be cheap can quickly double in cost when a DIY effort doesn't work and you end up needing a professional to do the installation and fix the damage left from your botched DIY attempt. The installation of home appliances is a great example of this – some of those projects are better left to the professionals. Appliances like microwaves can be straightforward to set up and connect, while dishwashers or stoves typically aren't. Things can easily go wrong due to the connections that need to be made to systems like plumbing or gas lines — which means someone who is well-versed in the process should handle it.

Attempts at DIY typically rise from a need to save money. There are many costs involved with a renovation or new home build so people look for spots where they can cut some costs. They might also be trying to get things done quickly. For example, someone might need to cook with the stove as soon as they move into a home, but the professional they contracted for the job won't be available for another week. DIY has its perks, but the potential dangers outweigh them when it comes to the installation of certain appliances.

When to call a pro

The labor costs of installing home appliances can cost you anywhere from a few hundred bucks to thousands. Some factors that affect the final amount are whether it's a new install or replacement, whether adjustments need to be made, and the overall complexity of the project, which typically has to do with connecting to existing systems. Especially in the latter case, you'll need to get someone who knows what they're doing and invest in the process. Appliances that have to do with water and drainage like dishwashers, garbage disposals, and washing machines need plumbing so a plumber should handle installations. Setting up air conditioning requires a connection to the HVAC and plumbing, so a HVAC technician can help with that. In the same way, a clothes dryer, heater, stove, grill, or fireplace needs connecting to the gas line if it's a gas appliance, so you need a skilled electrician.

These different systems are tricky and dangerous to navigate for a DIYer. A botched electrical wiring of an air conditioner can cause a fire, exposure to gas can cause skin, respiratory, and other health issues, and a botched washing machine drainage system can cause water to seep into the floor and lead to water damage in your home's foundation. Hire professionals in such cases because they will get the installation done quicker and more effectively. They will use the right equipment and ensure things are up to code.

Appliances that are fine to DIY

There are some appliances that are generally fine to DIY. As mentioned, your microwave just needs you to read and follow the instructions on the manual, and it's the same for a fridge and freezer, although you should determine the best place to put your refrigerator in the kitchen before you plug it in.

It's possible to DIY a washer or dryer installation but only when it's a replacement and the connections are already set up. Certain types of maintenance like cleaning the dryer vent can also be handled on a DIY basis. Still, these types of appliances shouldn't be gambled with, so if you're unsure about anything — whether it's the main install or just routine maintenance — it's always better to call a professional to get their opinion or to get their eyes on your appliance. It's much safer and you'll have peace of mind.