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Plumbers: Every one I know hates them because ...
Old 08-22-2019, 11:03 AM   #1
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Plumbers: Every one I know hates them because ...

How has YOUR luck been with plumbers?

I have a water leak between my water meter out by the street and the house that needs to be repaired. Everybody that I ask for a plumber recommendation gives me 3 or 4 plumbers that they would not recommend, so that's now getting to be upwards of 30 plumbing companies that are not recommended.

So I eventually got a plumbing company to send people out. They arrived late, so the day was scorching hot. They decided they would not take the job and left. Their diagnostic skills also left a lot to be desired.

I am pretty handy when it comes to fixing things, but I would pay to get this leak fixed. Nevertheless, I have to do this myself.

Confounding the situation is that I learned that water meters actually do not measure correctly when the flow rate is low such as with the leak I have. In fact, they often measure zero flow when the flow is less than say 5 gallons an hour. It seems like plumbers should know this, but the crew that came out was clueless about this.

Other confounding issues are that shut-off valves can be leaky, too.

So I contacted 811 and once the utility folks check out where I am going to dig, I'll have at it. Wish me luck!

Any luck with your plumbers with difficult-to-diagnose soaking wet spots in your yard with 6 inches of water and a trickle draining in to the street?
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Old 08-22-2019, 11:09 AM   #2
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I've hired plumbers over the years. Can't really say I hate them. They all did their job. One even showed my how to fix a drain issue if it happened again.
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Old 08-22-2019, 11:11 AM   #3
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Like you (LOL!), I became my own plumber where we live. The companies (here) that do this are full of cheap help that have minimal skills in the area of plumbing.
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Old 08-22-2019, 11:13 AM   #4
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Thankfully, we haven't had to use a plumber often but we did have one in Atlanta that was fantastic. He was a two man operation that didn't advertise and was used to move a W/D to the basement and then deal with a busted pipe that froze. He was timely, efficient and the price was right.

I was always hesitant to give out his info when we lived in ATL for fear of him getting to big/busy...but now since we don't live there, I will give it out to anyone in the NW ATL area that needs a good one!
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Old 08-22-2019, 11:13 AM   #5
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They are just difficult in any plumbing situation. They can charge anything they want because there are few in my area. You can't get a hold of them, they may call you back, and if you can get them to do the work, you pay dearly!
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Old 08-22-2019, 11:22 AM   #6
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Are there any private well service companies in your area? I had a similar leak in my private well system, and the well company fixed it, no problem. They have a good reputation around here. A pipes a pipe, private well or municipal supply.

Also, most home water meters are of the "positive displacement" design. They measure every bit of water going through them, regardless of how slow it is.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_...t_water_meters

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Old 08-22-2019, 11:34 AM   #7
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Like everything it is hit or miss. I had to replace a waterline from the meter to my house (of course it went under the driveway). The company that did the work did some things well and others left me scratching my head.

The day after they left, (where they had their heavy equipment for digging) my sprinkler system sprung a leak. Pipe was broken. Of course there was no shutoff just for the sprinkler. I had them come back out and they spent an hour that evening telling me why it wasn't their fault and they shouldn't have to replace it and that if they did, they would have to charge me $400. (WHAT!?) I eventually ended up with the owner on the phone who I finally was able to reason with.... or so I thought. It was late, the crew was supposed to be there the next morning, they didn't show, they wouldn't take my calls. I reached out to the bank to try to cancel payment on the check but it was too late.

Eventually I became my own plumber and fixed the pipe, and installed a couple of new shutoffs so that if anything happened with my sprinkler again I wouldn't lose water to the house.

But I have had other work done over the years that I was entirely happy with.
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Old 08-22-2019, 11:38 AM   #8
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I've had the same plumber for 15 years. Yeah, I'm pleased. Called him Saturday about a leaky valve. He came Sunday at 10am.

Took him about 30 seconds to fix the valve, and he charged me $40. But, hell, that was my stupidity not his!
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Old 08-22-2019, 11:40 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
Also, most home water meters are of the "positive displacement" design. They measure every bit of water going through them, regardless of how slow it is.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_...t_water_meters

-ERD50
Thanks for the link. Very interesting that PD meters probably have a magnet in them. That probably means I can use a magnet to interfere with their measuring.

Here is a big study of water meters:
http://www.allianceforwaterefficienc...uracy-2011.pdf
WARNING: This is a very thorough study if you care to read it.

Bottom line: Water meters are subject to lots of problems and often measure inaccurately or not at all. I can write that I got a year of water absolutely free because the water company took that long to replace the meter after I told them about it.
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Old 08-22-2019, 11:46 AM   #10
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.... He came Sunday at 10am.

Took him about 30 seconds to fix the valve, and he charged me $40. But, hell, that was my stupidity not his!
Ha! Sounds like $40 on Sunday at 10 am is his stupidity.
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Old 08-22-2019, 11:50 AM   #11
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It's very difficult finding reliable repair people, plumbing or otherwise. I like ERD50's idea of private well service companies. Or maybe a handyman service.

My uncle once repaired similar by himself. There was no accessible shutoff valve, so he froze the supply line with dry ice then did the repair.
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Old 08-22-2019, 12:01 PM   #12
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I had a leak close to the water meter in the front yard. Got a plumbing company to come out and they spent half a day digging and making the repair. High as hell but no way I could or would tackle the job. For minor stuff I have found an independent guy who is easy to get a hold of and he's a little less than a yellow page plumber.
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Old 08-22-2019, 12:03 PM   #13
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My experience is if you have seen 100 tv ads for a plumber/electricial/flooring they will be overpriced.
Don't use Home Advisor. Instead of you getting to look at different providers and their reviews they give your contact info out to the vultures who blow up your phone .
I suggest going down to the courthouse parking lot and getting a name off the side of a truck that is pulling a permit.
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Old 08-22-2019, 12:07 PM   #14
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Ha! Sounds like $40 on Sunday at 10 am is his stupidity.
Nah. He did the 30 second fix and I said "Bet that lesson is going to cost me about $40." He laughed and said "That'll be just fine." He gives me a good deal cuz he knows he'll get the call on the bigger jobs... Life's about relationships...
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Old 08-22-2019, 12:11 PM   #15
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We had a similar leak recently - this is not normal plumbing from what we gathered.

I have a local plumber company I like, that we've used several times, and explained we needed leak detection and repair and that we thought it was outside, and she said that's really more for a leak specialist. They came out, did all the diagnostics, and fixed it.

Kinda like if you need a shower unclogged, you don't get a plumber you get a rotor rooter thingy.
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Old 08-22-2019, 12:28 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by lemming View Post
My experience is if you have seen 100 tv ads for a plumber/electricial/flooring they will be overpriced.
Don't use Home Advisor. Instead of you getting to look at different providers and their reviews they give your contact info out to the vultures who blow up your phone .
I suggest going down to the courthouse parking lot and getting a name off the side of a truck that is pulling a permit.
I am still all about word of mouth. And not "review sites" or God forbid the dumpster fire that is Nextdoor. When my Dad started his commercial HVAC service (which morphed into fixing pretty much ANYTHING mechanical) he had a single box of business cards printed. Never had markings on the trucks, never advertised. He stayed busy for over 20 years (and sometimes TOO busy!) before retiring...all business was by word of mouth. He retired/closed up shop in 1989 and he still had most of his single box of business cards. I still have them in my "Dad's stuff" collection.
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Old 08-22-2019, 01:19 PM   #17
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IMHO nothing beats word of mouth referrals. We found ours via some neighbors, and at a another social gathering with different people the person was also mentioned as being reliable and good. He and his company (family, sons are also involved) have been our primary plumbers for probably 15 years. The service has been great, the prices have been very fair (when they can find a $40 fix for an issue that another company wanted to charge us $700 for, that is great). Often they will give us multiple options for a fix/improvement and let us know the price difference. On several occasions that problem was something so minor they did not charge us, and have also shown us ways to check things and do simple repairs/upgrades which does not require calling them.

He is a little younger than me, so my greatest fear is him deciding to retire sometime in the near future and his sons deciding they do not want to keep running the business.
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Old 08-22-2019, 01:25 PM   #18
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I don't hate plumbers at all. Good ones are worth their weight in gold and should charge accordingly. Now separating the wheat from the chaff is admittedly hard and takes time.

In my opinion, some of the very best DIY skills a homeowner can teach themselves are plumbing related. Very large $$ per hour return and a lot of the mundane problems are easily solved. Since I started getting comfortable with it about 5 - 10 years ago I've also solved a lot of trivial issues for family and friends. I probably saved my business partner a thousand bucks by doing the supply and drain lines for his cottage reno just a couple months ago.

Now, elect-chickens are another kettle of fish....
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Old 08-22-2019, 01:38 PM   #19
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I do 99% of my own plumbing. If the leak is prior to the meter, the city will generally take care of it.

Call Rooter Rooter. 100% they will get it fixed. Even on Christmas eve. I had them clear a main line, and there is no difference in price for a weekend or week day.


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I suggest going down to the courthouse parking lot and getting a name off the side of a truck that is pulling a permit.
Unless they are in the process of responding to a lawsuit...
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Old 08-22-2019, 03:07 PM   #20
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I've had my best luck finding competent service people by using the BBB website. I look for folks with ~10+ years of listing and very few, if any, complaints.
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