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Old 06-05-2014, 02:40 PM   #21
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Good perspectives from everyone, and great point about the markup on the parts. I was looking online at places like Home Depot and plumbing supply. Unfortunately, the receipt wasn't itemized by parts, etc. He used pipe stock that he cut, his own torch, tools, etc.

One thing that provides comfort is that I don't own the tools required to do this job in the first place, even if I was comfortable doing it. So if I were to go procure or rent the torch, circular saw, cutters, etc., I'm looking at a few hundred (nevermind I'm not a brazer/solderer). Then you think about the time it would've taken me to determine what was wrong, how to go about it, and then actually learn to fix it... yeah... This guy had everything, including parts, he needed for the repair in his van, and did it all in six hours.

Knowing when you're in over your head is an important skill...

I think his price ended up fair considering the amount of work he did, and the apparent quality of it. He is a good guy, talked me through everything, and showed me the failed parts. Doing a little digging on regulators made me feel better in replacing that, as well.

Re: sprinklers, last summer, while battling creeping bamboo that some idiot planted in our landscape, I damaged a PVC sprinkler joint and had to cut and replace the pipe and associated joint with the head I broke. I did that in about three hours, priming, gluing, etc., and my repair still holds (even against the higher pressure!). Fortunately, I'm not wasting money on the easier stuff so I can afford to pay for the more difficult tasks like this one.

And yeah, shoulda been a plumber!
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Old 06-05-2014, 04:20 PM   #22
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Re the plumber's hourly rate bear in mind that if he's a sole proprietor he'll net between 1/4 and 1/3 of that after taxes and his business expenses. Oh, and (hopefully) contributions to his retirement. If he's an employee of a company those expenses don't go away, they're just transferred to the owner.

Seen in that light the rate doesn't seem quite so high.
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Old 06-05-2014, 04:58 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Walt34 View Post
Re the plumber's hourly rate bear in mind that if he's a sole proprietor he'll net between 1/4 and 1/3 of that after taxes and his business expenses. Oh, and (hopefully) contributions to his retirement. If he's an employee of a company those expenses don't go away, they're just transferred to the owner.

Seen in that light the rate doesn't seem quite so high.
And as others mentioned, the markup for the convenience of having every part and tool delivered to my house is something my $400 estimate on parts cost didn't account for. The reality is the time/convenience and value of the tools I don't own probably pushes that number north of $1000, meaning the labor was probably $1000 for 6 hours (not counting his travel time, which was probably 45min each way). $167/hr, and he was sent by a larger company, probably pays for the gas in their van as a "contractor"... you're right, the plumber himself probably "only" grossed $4-500 for the day.
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Old 06-07-2014, 10:46 AM   #24
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I know the parts added up to about $400 based on searching online... just wondering if you guys think we got fleeced in the pricing so I can be informed whether or not to use this plumber again.
Thoughts?
If he had delayed his appearance for another 24 hours until you were really dehydrated desparate, I bet he could have talked you into paying him $2500!

Seriously, though, it sounds as though you got quality service with no callbacks. I'd hire the guy again, and I'd recommend him to all my neighbors.

We keep our house water pressure at 65 PSI. I can only imagine what 120 PSI does to kinked PEX and its crimped connections...
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Old 06-07-2014, 12:13 PM   #25
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Great story well told, Nash. I would say you were lucky to get such a knowledgeable and competent plumber. You are paying, not only for parts and labour, but for his expertise. At that moment, you needed that more than you needed a good lawyer, whose hourly rate would have been more expensive.

Of course everyone knows the old story about the homeowner who called a plumber and was aghast at the bill.

Homeowner: I wouldn't pay that much to hire a brain surgeon!

Plumber: I know. I used to be one.
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Old 06-09-2014, 07:29 AM   #26
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reminds me of the last hot water tank that failed (element burned out) .... tank had a warranty so I called the GE hotline. "No problem, we'll send a plumber within 24 hours".

Kid shows from a city 1/2 hour away ... takes one look at the tank and the discussion went like this:

"First I need to bring it up to code ... we won't touch it if its not up to code."
"Whats wrong with it?"
"Well for starters you need a drip tray and a water alarm system."
"ALARM SYSTEM!?!?"
"Yup"
"So you don't WANT this warranty work ... no money in it for you?"
"We can't touch a ..."
"Go home ... I'll fix it."

Had an element in my plumbing bucket ... work was done the same day (draining the tank is the "long pole").
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Old 06-09-2014, 10:15 AM   #27
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The money isn't in the warranty work - it's in the add-ons.

Being of a thrifty bent much of our rental repair work was done by me. That was fine and doing so did good things for our net worth as well as making tenants happy with response time. I also now have esoteric tools and parts stacked to overflowing in floor to ceiling wall cabinets and filling our 24x36 garage ($800 worth of Ridgid drain tools anyone?).

A few years ago I decided I didn't want to maintain all the lawn care equipment that fills another shed - nor did I want to be out raking oaks leaves in the Oregon rain. I hired a lawn service. It's more expensive, but he does a better job in the main. The money is well spent, as OP's was.
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Old 06-09-2014, 07:25 PM   #28
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Had an element in my plumbing bucket ... work was done the same day (draining the tank is the "long pole").
There is a way out of draining the tank. We used to do this when I worked at Sears. MAKE SURE there are no other faucets opened during this time, even cold water ones because sometimes a washing machine mixing valve will stick open, and that no one flushes a toilet. Open one hot water faucet to relieve pressure then close it.

Loosen all the screws for the old element and have the new one in your other hand, gasket in place and ready to install. Yank out the old and jam the new one in. Because the system is sealed except for the hole you just made by taking out the element so little water will leak out that it doesn't matter or can be cleaned up with a small towel.

First time I was afraid to do this but it works.
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Old 06-09-2014, 09:46 PM   #29
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There is a way out of draining the tank. We used to do this when I worked at Sears. MAKE SURE there are no other faucets opened during this time, even cold water ones because sometimes a washing machine mixing valve will stick open, and that no one flushes a toilet. Open one hot water faucet to relieve pressure then close it.

Loosen all the screws for the old element and have the new one in your other hand, gasket in place and ready to install. Yank out the old and jam the new one in. Because the system is sealed except for the hole you just made by taking out the element so little water will leak out that it doesn't matter or can be cleaned up with a small towel.

First time I was afraid to do this but it works.
Sure does - bet I don't lose a cup of water in an element swap. Walt is being funny though - you left out the part about shutting off the cold water supply to the tank. Ya rascal!
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Old 06-09-2014, 09:52 PM   #30
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Sure does - bet I don't lose a cup of water in an element swap. Walt is being funny though - you left out the part about shutting off the cold water supply to the tank. Ya rascal!
I figured anyone would already know that part!
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Old 06-11-2014, 05:52 PM   #31
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Quote:
There is a way out of draining the tank.
Quote:
you left out the part about
You guys are good ! I cut n'pasted this ... printed it ... and put it in the plumbing bucket (with the elements).

I'll let you know if I get wet.
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Old 06-11-2014, 09:49 PM   #32
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You guys are good ! I cut n'pasted this ... printed it ... and put it in the plumbing bucket (with the elements).

I'll let you know if I get wet.
I know how this would go for me: As I rapidly move to swap in the new element, I would kick the screwdriver under the furnace. If it is a screw-in element, I'd cross thread it badly going in.
So, since I anticipate a disaster, I'd begin the job with a big wad of rags to jam into the hole and a roll of Gorilla Tape to hold them there.

And I'm sure everyone follows the two key rules of homeowner plumbing repair:
1) Never start any job when the hardware stores are closed or the real plumbers are charging extra.
2) Never start any job without putting aside 2 gallons of drinking water and 2 full buckets for flushing toilets.
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Old 07-03-2014, 05:11 PM   #33
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So an update to this: water usage is down 1500 gallons (!) from last month, and 1500 gallons from June 2013. Bill is ~$12 less. If that trend holds, repairs will pay for themselves in 14 years and 7 months!!
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Old 07-12-2014, 10:04 PM   #34
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As I have mentioned in some of my earlier posts, I am in the process of moving from this place I have rented for the past 32 years. (I had such a sweet rental deal--that included all utilities (gas, garbage, sewer, water, electricity, high-speed Wi-Fi & satellite TV)--that I just couldn't pass up. I did the rent vs. buy calculations over the years, but just couldn't beat the deal I had here.

However, my landlord decided to sell the place, so I am moving.

Getting to the point of this thread, the landlord has been spending a lot of $ getting this place ready to sell. Then, out of the blue, the 50-year-old sewer line to this home went belly-up this week, to the tune of $6,000! (They had to locate the problem some 100 feet out--this is a large property--dig up the sewer line some 6 feet below... yadda, yadda, yadda.)

I've also noticed that for the past few years my western neighbor always seems to be out in his large property doing this and that to keep it up. I dunno whether he enjoys doing all that work.

Meanwhile, I'm moving to a nice apartment, where I am expecting the landlord to take care of anything that needs fixing, while I am enjoying my ER life.
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Old 07-13-2014, 06:11 PM   #35
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Such an apropos thread.

I need some advice as a well as place to rant.

I started an extensive/expensive kitchen remodel this year of my 1958 house. I had very good handyman working as a general contractor. I got 2 bids for the plumbing work the last minute the guy I hired canceled. So I scrambled and hired Kama'aina Plumbing. There bid was in the middle and for the most part they were responsive, and my handyman was happy with their work. (I know basically nothing about plumbing beyond fixing toilet flappers)

The outside plumbing involved breaking up a concrete pad and re-routing/replace pipes, plus moving a sink, refrig, and adding a dishwasher and drain. During the process I got a call from our water company,saying there might a leak. I asked my contractor to ask the plumbers to check for a leak who were coming a couple of days. . I asked and he said they didn't find anything. Roughly a month later the finally bit of plumbing was done.

Fast forward four months later and I finally got around to opening a water bill (the bad news about autopay). Much to my amazement my water usage had jumped from $20 a month to $150+ so clearly there was a big leak.

I call Kama'aina Plumbing, and they send a different plumber than 2 had worked on the kitchen. He couldn't find the main leak but did find water damage in my downstairs utility room. His recommendation was that almost 60 year old galvanized pipe was likely disintegrating and we should abandon the line are replace it with copper. The $7,000 bid for doing the work was a definite oh crap. I checked with a couple of friends who said it was not unreasonable. A 3 men team (but only one licensed plumber) completed the job in 3 days (so 60-70 hours. They bill plumbers at $120/hour). While I was happy with the initial kitchen work, I found this job to be sloppy (and I am far from a perfectionist). They put a hole in the ceiling while working in the attic and replaced with a plate not dry wall, the downstairs shower is not functional because they had tear out some tile to run the pipe, and a couple of other things.

I told them I wasn't going to pay the balance until I had a chance to have a handyman inspect it and I got several calls from the billing department giving me a hassle. I did have a different (less skilled) handyman come out since my other guys is out of the country for the month and didn't find anything obviously wrong.

I am pretty displeased mostly about the fact that really haven't taken any responsibility for causing the initial leak, and that they left my property with a major leak. It seem me that is a basic step that a plumber should make is check for leaks after a major plumbing job. Especially with the warning from the water company.

The bill pay check has been processed but not received. Does anyone know if you can put a stop payment on bill pay checks? My approach is to contact the owner and tell him I in the process of writing a less than flattering Yelp and Angie's list review and to give him an opportunity to make it right. I am just wondering what is reasonable request? Any thoughts?
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Old 07-13-2014, 06:20 PM   #36
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Also file a complaint with the BBB. You may get lucky and find out they are members and will have to respond to the complaint.
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