The other day I discovered our bathroom floor had become a lake. The Man of the House and I looked at each other accusingly.

In our panic we used the good towels to sop up the flood and hoped that the whole situation would self-correct. I finally had the bright idea to shut off the tap behind the toilet, but even this was a challenge. (Is it ‘righty tighty’ or do I close left, like the sink taps?)

Some jobs are best left to the pros.

The plumber showed up to announce that the leaking intake pipe needed replacing. I looked at him blankly.

“I’ll just replace that now and get out of here,” he said wearily.

While he took up his position coiled around the commode to replace the curvy pipe with a sort-of woven pipe-like thing, I peppered him with plumbing questions. I want to renovate, see. Can I move my sink? Can I put a washer-dryer in here? Can I get a bigger tub? He answered each specific with a general: “You gotta be careful about doing something like that.”

I hate these kinds of answers. I like answers like: “Smart idea!” and “You could do that yourself!”

Fifteen minutes later as he was attempting to leave I corralled him into the other bathroom. “What’s the deal here?” I asked, lifting the lid of the toilet tank. He peered in.

“It’s your ball-cock,” he said. (I’m not making this stuff up.) “It’s dripping there. You need a Fluid Master fill valve.” You could do it yourself, he said. I tried to imagine the Man of the House and me wandering the Home Depot plumbing-parts aisle, ball-cock in hand.

I would also need an exotic-sounding wrench and would have to be careful not to crack the tank in the process.

His $200 bill was a small price to pay for household peace. The moral: It’s tempting to go it alone when it comes to fixing what needs fixing but it pays to call the pros. And these days, they could use the good work they’re trained to do.

Those who live in apartment complexes can call their property manager to find the services they use for building repairs.

Otherwise, ask those you trust for recommendations.

For extra reassurance, check the Better Business Bureau ( to see if the company you’re considering has been flagged.

Carlyn Yandle is a Vancouver journalist with her own room-planning business, Home Reworks;