Don’t Wait til You Have a Crises to Call a Plumber
Plumbers do the dirtiest of work, but somehow the profession has garnered a reputation for rip-offs. But where would you be without your plumber? Where would your bathroom be? (Shudder.)
And let’s be honest. We don’t schedule plumbing appointments months in advance. Plumbers are the ones we frantically call at 2 a.m., with water pooling up around our ankles and monogrammed towels strewed across the floor. We call plumbers mid-meltdown, and somehow they have to explain the inner workings of our pumps and valves in plain English and jump to action before more damage is done.
Just because it’s a dirty job doesn’t mean its practitioners don’t deserve our respect—or our understanding. Here are nine things plumbers wish you, their clients, knew to clear the air—or the drains, so to speak. It’s the first of a series on what contractors wish you knew.
1. Your drains are dirty. Really dirty. But that doesn’t mean you are.
“People have no concept of what they’re flushing down the toilet,” says Jonathan Thorne, the general manager of Benjamin Franklin Plumbing in Wichita, KS. You probably assumed that it’s pretty gross down there, but if you’ve never watched someone snake your toilet or shower, it may surprise you just how gross it is.
But that’s normal. The amount of muck pulled out of your drains isn’t a reflection of your cleanliness—or of your plumber’s skill. The least helpful thing you can do is remark on how appalling the bathroom looks midrenovation. They know, and it will get better.
“There’s nothing sexy about sewer lines,” Thorne says, “but when they don’t work, you sure notice it.”
Even though the process might be messy, good plumbers will leave your home exactly as they found it. “We want it to look just like it did when we got there,” says Chris Wallace, the owner of GFB Plumbing in Dallas. But that doesn’t mean they’ll clean up your messes. Both Wallace and Thorne mentioned clients who expected their plumbers to add “maid” to their duties.
“We try to go above and beyond, but sometimes you realize it’s gonna take a coat of paint and new flooring,” says Thorne.
3. Don’t feel bad for calling late at night.
Plumbing is a 24-hour-a-day job, so no reputable plumber will be miffed by a midnight emergency. “Call—we’ll answer,” Wallace says. “We don’t get mad. Sometimes we get the better jobs because they couldn’t get anybody else.”
4. Don’t overestimate your DIY abilities.
Unless you’re seriously handy, leave plumbing to professionals.
“Know your limits,” says Thorne. “Some guys don’t need a plumber. Some get the wrong tool, taking a small problem and making it a big problem because they shouldn’t have pried.”
That turns what could have been a quick fix and an easy job into a strenuous ordeal that could involve pulling up floorboards or tearing into your walls.
Yes, sometimes you can save money. But wouldn’t you rather spend a small amount of money now than a huge amount later? Plumbers may have to deal with waste, but that doesn’t mean they like wastefulness.
“If your mechanical abilities are low, leave it alone,” says Wallace.
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