Plumbing Has A Tomorrow

The Blog I Don’t Want You to Read

Service plumbing is all about tricky situations. Fitting your body is spaces not meant for those over the age of 10. Working on equipment from 40 years ago half rotted away. These tricky situations can be a lot of fun though. They help push your skill level and creativity to find a solution. There was one call though, if clients saw they would second-guess ever even having me in their home. One call I’ve never discussed I’m so embarrassed what my peers would think of me. One call, I don’t want anybody ever finding out about. So…..

It was a day like any other. An afternoon in mid-May about 2 years ago. I was dispatched to replace a tap. Easy enough, I was thinking it would likely be a quick swap. Once I started speaking to the client I found out the call was actually to replace his roman tub faucet. Again normally this would not be a big deal but road blocks soon arose. To install the new valve you had to work from within a small crawl space below the tub with just enough room to sit upright if you could properly angle your body. Next, the access to the valve was through a small hole cut out from the floor that wasn’t big enough to fit both hands in to work AND be able to see what your doing at the same time. That was nothing though to what came next.

For any of you non-plumbers out there, roman tub faucets generally look like a letter H with an extra fork in the middle on the top side. Some come in 3 pieces, while others are simply 1. This was the latter. The client explained the spacing between his tub holes was an odd size and he could not find a valve with the proper spacing. He wanted me to cut the valve into 3 pieces and modify it so the valve would fit. That’s not normal, if something comes in 1 piece it’s usually meant to stay in 1 piece. I was instantly searching for another way.

Me: “ Well sir, I don’t think thats the best idea.”

Client: “I don’t think it’s a big deal.”

Me: “Are you sure you couldn’t find the proper valve? If I cut this one into pieces it’s going to void any warranty from the manufacturer. How about you give me 10 minutes to try and source the right one?”

Client: “You won’t find anything. I’ve been to every supplier in the city, and there’s nothing online.  I’m fine with losing the warranty, I need this installed.”

The convo went on for a bit but the client was dead set, so if there’s no other choice there’s no other choice. The client understood the risk he was taking and accepted what might happen. Let’s get busy. That’s when the work got interesting. I worked away cutting the valve into 3 pieces, soldering on adapters, taking measurements. My original game plan soon fell through, as I realized I wouldn’t have the space needed. The valve soon became a Frankenstein type monster. I had soldered on adapters to get me from copper to pex back to copper. I had to use some….(whispers)… shark bite adapters to fit in other spots. Difficulty grew as I talked about before – when I needed to use two hands I couldn’t look at what I was doing. But I created my monster and it looked like one too. I looked up at it and wondered what my chances were this pig was gonna hold once I turned the water back on. So I said a little prayer to the pluming gods and turned on the water. Not a drop squeaked out to my amazement. I wrapped up installing the taps and sat down with the client to go over the paperwork.

No lie, I was (and still am) proud of what I had accomplished. I was able to take a job that placed me back 100 yards from the starting line right from the beginning and made it to the end of the race jumping over every hurdle along the way. I wish I still had the photo of my beast but sadly it’s lost in the aether somewhere. Years from now whoever is the lucky guy to gets to replace that valve is gonna look up and curse and wonder what idiot would have installed this valve. Hopefully he isn’t a fan of blogs.

Tales From the Work Van

Ep. 2

“This is a giant ad for CMS”

There are some old homes in Regina, with old pluming inside of them. A couple of summers ago I was dispatched to a call for a leaking shower handle on the east end of town. The client was a super nice, super old, woman who had lived in the home since it had been built in the 1960’s. One of the bath tubs handles was leaking, easy fix I thought, just a simple cartridge replacement.

WRONG!

Time had taken it’s toll on this particular faucet and the cartridge did not want to budge. As I gave it one last torque of the wrench to try and free it I accidentally snapped it. Any plumber reading this will know my exact feelings at this moment. We’ve all had an old valve or screw or whatever break on us as we’ve been working on it. It doesn’t feel good, you have to fight the urge to just drop your tools and walk out rethinking maybe your mom was right and you should have been a school teacher. But after taking a breath you start looking for solutions.

The name escapes me now but like I said this was a pretty old faucet. I had never even heard of the brand before. I started calling suppliers looking for replacement parts. None of them had heard of the brand! It wasn’t looking good for replacement. It was starting to look like I was going to have to explain to this nice lady that her shower valve was completely FUBAR’d. I wasn’t giving up hope though too soon and explained I was stepping out to source the part. A couple more suppliers later it wasn’t looking good, nobody had anything even close I could use. Replacement of the entire setup wasn’t a better sounding outcome either. The entire shower surround was tile and the style of valve she had isn’t very common anymore. To avoid tile repair a matching valve was going to be expensive. Like get the “F” out of my house right now expensive. But thats where we were. As I started driving back to the client’s house to drop the bad news I had a brain flash, I hadn’t checked CMS!

CMS is located on Winnipeg street. The place is like a hardware liquidation store. I thought if I had any chance to find the part, that’s where it would be. I walked in and headed for the plumbing section. I found an old man employee working behind a counter.

Old man employee “Can I help you?”

Me “Yeah, I doubt your gonna have it. But I got this cartridge for this (insert brand name here) shower valve I can’t find anywhere in the city”

Old man employee squints eyes at cartridge in my hand. And walks over to bins of cartridges.

“Here you go.” Old man employee then proceeds to toss matching cartridge to me as nonchalantly as possible.

Me “Buddy, you don’t how pumped I am that you have this.”

Old man employee just walks away “Yes”

I wrapped up the call and everything couldn’t have gone better and it’s all thanks to the random stuff you can find at CMS. Thank you old man employee, wherever you are.

Renting vs. Buying Water Heaters

Water Heaters: Buying vs. Renting

Ford vs Chev, Flames vs. Oilers, renting vs purchasing. Everybody’s gotta choose a side, but how do you know which one is better? Some decisions are easy, (Oilers, obv!) While others can be a little harder. I have had a lot of conversations with friends and clients over whether it’s better to rent or outright purchase equipment. More and more, plumbing companies are now offering clients the option to rent almost anything, I’ve worked at companies that offer both purchasing and others that are big into renting and have seen the pros and cons of both. The big four are water heaters, softeners, furnaces, and air conditioners. For this post I’m mainly going to try and stick with water heaters as I find the conversation about them a little more debatable than the rest. Maybe later this year I’ll give my rundown about the other three.

I want to stop and make a quick note here that ultimately there really is no right or wrong answer. You work hard for your money and whatever is best for you is what’s important! I just want to provide the ups and downs of either choice so homeowners can make the best educated choice for themselves and their families.

Renting

Pros:

In the short run renting a water heater is going to be the cheaper option. Depending on the size and style of the tank, with install and purchase a homeowner is likely going to have to toss out around $1000 – 2000 give or take. Whereas most companies offering rentals attract customers with extremely low affordable monthly rates and little to no install fees. Nobody is ever ready for their tank to fail, and when you’re faced with the choice of paying $100 or $1000 to get hot water back, the former looks a lot better in the moment.

Renting also takes away all the physical work for the homeowner. The rental company removes the old tank, puts in the new one and handles all maintenance and repairs during the contract. Everybody’s got enough problems already right?! Why worry about the water heater if you don’t have to? No hot water? Call up the company and most can provide same day service for repairs with no charge. One. Less. Worry. If you want to see your water heater last you’re also going to have to perform the maintenance, mainly changing the anode rod. And I can tell you right now, there is a very small percentage of homeowners changing those rods, if they even know they exist! Again, this is a service most rental companies will provide for their rentals.

If there is ONE type of homeowner that renting is the better choice for it’s landlords. I’ve always recommended renting in their situations. They can leave the rental info with the tenants and if there is an issue with the tank the renter can call for service.

Cons: 

If you want to rent, you’re gonna have to sign a contract. And whether its a contract for a water heater or a gym membership, let’s be real, the contract is always in the favour of the business. Nobody ever reads the fine print but most contracts will allow for rental companies to reap as much money and avoid as much responsibility as possible. Transferring contracts if you’re moving is usually pain free, but if you want buy out of your contract and purchase the unit you better expect to pay more than you think. Ultimately renting leads to the homeowner paying more money than if they would have initially purchased. If you have the money available and are even half decently handy, buying is for you.

Another negative aspect of the rental industry is the likelihood you will be paying for either a used tank or used parts to be installed in your home. For many rental companies it’s to their benefit to keep hot water tanks running as long as possible. Even if it means Frankenstein-ing tanks well past their usual life expectancy. This leads to customers paying premium prices for used goods.

Buying

Pros: 

A flat out purchase of a water heater will be cheaper than what you will pay through the lifetime of the rental contract. There is also a lot less risk a homeowner has to take with an unfamiliar company. If the service wasn’t what you expected it’s a lot easier to cut ties. If a homeowner has a specific brand of equipment they want to use, buying will also allow them that discretion. This is a bigger issue than many think. Sure, maybe you have a dud water heater. Sure, you don’t worry about how much the repair is going to cost because it’s a rental. But think about how much time and money is lost every time you’re taking time off from work to wait for the tech to show up to fix it.

Cons:

Hot water tank maintenance, ugggghhhhhh! Like I said earlier, most homeowners have never even heard of an anode rod, let alone given two thoughts about changing one themselves. Don’t get me wrong, in terms of home maintenance, it’s not as hard as cleaning the gutters, but it’s for sure harder than sealing the driveway. And we haven’t even touched on gas valve, or ventor motor failures. These repairs are costs that are placed on the homeowners shoulders to bear.

I know I’ve probably just tossed a lot of info at you in a pretty quick burst, I hope I didn’t bore anyone too much (I know water heaters aren’t as glamorous as kitchen cabinets). If you do have any questions though you can always call or email our office. We can also be reached at our Facebook and Instagram pages, which if you’re not following already, why not?

Signs Your Water Heater is Failing

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Hey everyone,

This week I want to talk about water heaters and how you can tell when the dreaded day is coming when that bad boy finally gives out on you. Im hoping to follow this post up with my thoughts on renting vs buying a water heater.

Nobody budgets for it, nobody plans for it, but its gonna happen. No hwt is meant to last forever and will need to be replaced eventually. Predicting failure isn’t always the easiest thing to do but there are certain occurrences that are the most common signals when water heater end of days is nearing.

Age

We are no longer in the days where you can expect your tank to give you at least ten years before experiencing problems. Now water heater manufacturers mainly give 6-7 years replacement warranty on leaking tanks. So theres a little clue on how long they expect their own product to last. In today’s market ten years is getting to be considered old age for water heaters. Knowing the age of your hwt is key in preparing for replacement.

Bang’n and Clang’n

Your water heater may even try telling you its having trouble. Over time sediment collects and builds up over time inside the tank. This isn’t good. As the sediment hardens it causes the hwt to work harder than its designed to. It can lead to rapid expansion of the tank itself which you will notice with a banging from your tank. Air pockets can also build up from this sediment and loud pops will be heard when its operating.

Low Heat

This is a big one especially for tankless heaters, but if you notice that the water just isn’t hot enough anymore or you find the water goes cold a lot quicker than it use to, you may be experiencing the heating element or burner wearing out. This isn’t the worse repair to need done and wont break your wallet but it does lend to letting a homeowner know their tank could be next.

Drips and Drops

A sign a lot of homeowners don’t catch onto is when the leak from their tank “is only a little bit”. A leak whether its a drip or drop is not good. This indicates your tank is rusting away allowing water to leak out. If the water is seen at the top of the tank from the inlet or outlet you still have a chance to repair and extend the life of the unit. But if the leak is from the bottom….. so long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good night!

If there is anything that is going to help a homeowner extend the life of their water heater its regular maintenance. Regularly flushing the tank and replacing the anode rod when needed helps keep sediment from building up and eating away at the tank. (Is this where I mention C Mac Regina can do this for you, hassle free?)

On a different note C Mac Regina has recently been without one of its mainstays of the past four years. Barn Cat Bryan is off at his last year of school for the next two months. I originally met Bryan near the tail end of my first C Mac tenure in 2013. He was a guy who was hired somewhat green to plumbing from what I can remember but he has definitely kept expanding on his skills while I was away. When I came back to the ‘Mac at the end of June last year Bryan was handling a lot of our service and working on finals (thats all the delicate stuff). When asked, Bryan was successfully able to transition to roughing in our new builds (thats the bread and butter). Bryan has one of my favourite traits, he shows up. Day in day out, you can count on Bryan to be on time ready to work. Bryan does top notch work and when he says somethings wrapped up, you don’t often have to go back to double check. While he’s away I know everyone at C Mac Regina is pulling for Bryan and wishing him good luck in wrapping up his apprenticeship and getting that J-card.

Instagram, Insta-booking, Insta-service!

Instagram, Insta-booking, Insta-service!

In my initial post I talked a real big game describing C Mac Regina as the most client interactive plumbing and heating company operating in/around Regina. Bold claim eh? There were a lot of people within the plumbing blog universe (plog universe?) looking at me sideways after I dropped that post. Didn’t bother us though. Haters love C Mac! Well, it is two months into 2018 and even though we’ve only scratched the surface with C Mac Regina’s new customer appreciation initiatives, we’ve already seen our clients reaping the benefits with our new Insta-service appointment booking method.

C Mac Regina has stamped a much larger footprint on social media in 2018, and part of that has been our expansion into Instagram. Everyone can now follow C Mac Regina and check out what we are up to each day, get to know the crew, and get hooked up with awesome service offers. Following C Mac Regina on Instagram can also help in getting you booked in faster when you need an appointment for sooner rather than later. During weekday hours we always suggest you phone our office, 306-565-5099, when needing service, we also strive to provide same day service to as many customers as we can each day. But C Mac Regina also now provides multiple options when needing after-hours service for plumbing and heating emergencies.

First, customers can call our emergency service line, 1-855-622-2622, where a customer representative will take your info and pass it along to our technician on call. Your other choice would be to reach us through our social media profiles. For any customers who find it easier to navigate Facebook and Instagram all you have to do is follow or like our pages and once the time comes when we’re needed to step into action feel free to slide into our DM’s. All messages get automatically sent back to yours truly, and I can help cut out the middle man to get a service tech out to your home as fast as possible. Basically all we need are a name and phone number. If you want to leave an address and short message about the problem your experiencing that always helps!