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The Very Real Hazards of DIY HVAC Work

Extra holes in your drywall could be the least of your problems when DIY-ing a thermostat installation. Photo credit: HVAC.com

Any HVAC technician with at least a few months experience under his or her belt has seen what damage an HVAC DIY project gone wrong can cause. In the age of online tutorials and DIY guides, the urge to tinker and toy with something all in the name of saving a buck can be hard to overcome. If anyone understands that urge, it’s HVAC technicians — dedicated tradespeople who prefer to do everything with their own two hands.

However, technicians have spent countless hours as students and apprentices to become experts on diagnosing HVAC problems, determining the best solution, and installing equipment. Ask anyone in their first HVAC-related class at technical college and they will wholeheartedly assure you it is not simple or easy. And, unfortunately, the risks non-professionals face when they pick up a wrench and give in to that do-it-yourself mentality can be extreme.

It goes without saying that dealing with electricity, complex equipment, and chemicals can be dangerous, but listen to what Jeff Chapman, an Angie’s List contributor, had to say about refrigerants in a 2016 article.

“Handling [refrigerants] can be deadly if the proper precautions aren’t followed,” Chapman said. “Proper training and safety gear is essential to make sure no one is injured by or exposed to deadly chemicals used in [HVAC] systems. Handling these chemicals also requires certification.”

When a non-professional tampers with an air conditioner, they void the unit’s warranty. Photo credit: American Standard.

And, of course, the monetary risks are huge. A non-professional who tampers with an air conditioning unit, for example, automatically voids the manufacturer’s warranty, likely hurting their wallet far more than an hour of a professional’s time would.

A poorly installed thermostat can cause electrical issues that affect an entire home. It can also damage the thermostat itself, so when the do-it-yourself job fails and a technician is called in, a whole new thermostat must be purchased and then installed properly.

Additionally, what may seem like a small, easy-to-fix issue could very well be a symptom of a much larger problem, and the sooner it’s detected the cheaper it will be to fix. Only a true professional has the knowledge required for an accurate diagnosis.

Hiring a professional HVAC company to do the work for you and focusing your DIY efforts elsewhere will save you time, money, stress, and maybe even a finger or two.

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