Are you suffering from chronically-slow drains and pipes that seem to back up again almost as fast as you clear them?
Hiring a plumber may or may not be a great idea -- because you don't know what's causing your problem. Is it a Lego figure that got dropped down the bathtub drain by your son six months ago that you thought was long out of the picture by now that's actually causing the problem? Is it tree roots? Is is something more serious, like collapsed pipes running from the house's main lateral line to the public sewer?
Why not just call a plumber and find out?
Until you know what the problem really is, you don't know if this is something you can handle with a Do-It-Yourself attitude and some borrowed tools or if you really do need that plumber. If that old Lego is just jammed in a curve in the pipe, you can save yourself a small fortune in labor fees by watching a few videos and learning how to take the pipes apart, clean them out, and put them back together again. Hiring a plumber now could be a huge waste of money -- even calling one that will scope the pipes with a camera first is going to cost you a minimum labor charge that can be pretty hefty, even if they don't do any other work.
You also don't know what type of plumber to call. If the backup seems to be in the lateral line (the main line running from your house to the sewer), you may have a problem with tree roots. It's a common problem -- which means that there are plumbing companies that do most of their advertising directed at that specific problem. Unfortunately, those companies can also miss the boat when it comes to recognizing a much bigger problem with similar symptoms: collapsed pipes. Hiring a plumber that assumes your lateral line is clogged with tree roots and attacks the issue with either a rotary-wad cutter or a high-pressure jet could actually make your situation worse if your pipes are collapsing.
What can you do instead of calling a plumber right away?
The good news is that there's absolutely no reason to take an educated guess (which is pretty much what plumbers had to do years ago when there was no other way to figure out a problem except through experience and investigative skills).
Sewer cameras, also called pipe cameras, are easily available for rent these days from hardware stores and local shops. The newer models feature all the high-resolution images that you'd expect from a regular camera -- unlike older models that often required an expert to understand what they were seeing. The basic model consists of a metal sewer snake with a waterproof camera that's very small attached at the end. There's also a bright light attached to the camera, which sends the images it sees back to a monitor for easy viewing. The flexible hose can allow you to weave around tight corners and bends wherever you think the problem might be located. If you don't immediately locate the issue, you can start again at a different point.
Once you know whether or not you have a toy stuck in a drain, a basic gnarl of hair and other debris causing a clog, tree roots, or something more serious (like a collapsing pipe), then you can decide if the call to plumber is worth it -- and what type of plumber you need. You'll also have the advantage of shortening the labor costs when you do call the plumber, since you won't have to go through the guess work again to locate the start of the problem.
For more information, contact a business such as USA Borescopes.