Whenever I need to fix something around the house, I usually check YouTube for a solution. I often find that I can do some DIY home repair. However, there are definitely times when YouTube makes it clear that the repair is too complicated or dangerous for me to handle. Other times, I see that a task would be so time-consuming that it’s worth my while to pay someone to handle it.

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Whenever I do end up hiring a professional, I usually try to learn from him or her.

If I’m paying somebody for her knowledge and skill, I figure I might as well try to pick something up. Here are a few examples of how I usually go about it:

The Plumber

When I was getting ready to sell my rental unit, I discovered that one of the pipes going into the water heater was badly corroded and could break at any time. I figured that I could probably fix the problem myself. That said, it would be very difficult because of its location, so I called the plumber. It turned out that only the pipe required repair, which was a quick and inexpensive fix. However, the plumber had some extra time on his hands, and we had a brief conversation.

I always ask any professional to name the one thing that homeowners should do, but never manage to. The plumber told me the best way to make a water heater last a long time is simply to drain its tank once a year. This helps to remove sediment. I had no clue that I was supposed to do that, but now I do!

The Floor Cleaner

I clean my floors on a regular basis. Unfortunately, consumer cleaning products never work as well as professional ones. The last time I hired a floor cleaner, I had him clean the tile and grout. The results were amazing.

While he was cleaning, I asked why grout got so dirty and if there was anything I could do to prevent it from happening in the future. The answer was a simple one that I would never have realized myself.

If you mop using water, the water grabs the dirt. Then the dirty water settles in low-lying areas of the floor like the grout, making it turn an ugly color. While you get most of the dirty water up when mopping, some always remains behind. The floor cleaner said that the best way to clean a floor — other than professionally — is to use a product that requires very little water, such as a wet Swiffer. I’ve used a wet Swiffer in our new home, and as a result, the grout still looks as good as new in most places — and it's been a year since we moved in!

 The Air-Conditioning Technician

I usually hire an air-conditioning technician to clean my system once or twice a year. However, one time I had a big problem with my air conditioner that required a technician’s visit. While we waited to see if his handiwork had actually fixed the problem, I decided to chat with him a bit.

I asked the technician what I could do to make my system last longer and run more efficiently. He said I should rinse off the outside coils at least once every three months to keep them clean and thus keep the system working at peak efficiency. He also suggested that I check the air filter every 30 days and to change it if it’s dirty. When dirt clogs the filter, it makes it harder for the system to bring air into the house, causing the fan to work harder and break more often.

What Not to Do When Looking for Home Repair Tips

While picking the brains of professionals has helped me learn and save a significant amount of money, you shouldn’t constantly ask questions, especially when they’re doing dangerous work. Instead, let them concentrate so that they can be as safe as possible.

You should also avoid bothering technicians who don’t seem to want to speak with you. Plus, if you’re paying an hourly rate, asking questions may cause them to work longer, resulting in a higher bill.

Finally, don’t ever go somewhere customers aren’t allowed. For instance, I’d never wander into an auto garage. I only ask questions when the professionals are working at my house or in their offices.

Simply talking to the professionals about DIY home repair can save you money if you do it the right way. You might even make a new friend!