I just got done installing a Delta Touch-2-O kitchen sink faucet. Just touch the faucet to turn it on and off. This technology is the best thing since sliced bread if you ask me!
The Heffner Plumbing "Battle Wagon" has been a work in progress since I bought this 13 years ago. I'll never be finished, but am exceptionally proud of the shelf doors that I have recently added. These doors give me the ability to make the most use of the space available without the worry of things falling out. And if I ever do hire a helper, it will be much easier for him/her to find things now the way the shelves are organized. Maybe when I get too old for this work, I can start doing plumbing van makeovers for other plumbers!
Going to Disney World or some other wonderful vacation destination? Whether it's for a weekend or several weeks, here are some things to consider before hitting the road:
1. Shut the water off to the house- Plumbing leaks can happen at any time of the day or night. This problem can be even more devastating left unchecked because no one is home to find the problem. ALWAYS shut the water off to the house when leaving for vacation, even if its just for the weekend. Not sure where the main water shut-off valve is? Contact your plumber to help you with this.
2. Put lights on timers- A dark home can be an open invitation to burglars. Putting several lights on portable/programmable timers or having an electrician put front porch and hall lights on permanent timers is a great way to make sure that it looks like someone is home when you are gone.
3. Don't forget your mail and newspaper delivery- An overflowing mailbox or newspapers collecting at the front door are obvious signs that no one is home. Make arrangements with the Post Office to hold your mail and call the newspaper to have them put your home delivery on hold until you return from vacation.
4. Let your neighbor(s) know that you will be gone for vacation- Be sure and tell you neighbor or neighbors that you will be going out of town and for how long. Make sure that they have a cell phone number to reach you at and that you have theirs. Good neighbors will also take in the mail and newspapers while you're gone as well, that would eliminate Step 3.
5. Hire a lawn service to cut the grass while you're gone- Wouldn't it be nice to return home from a vacation to a lawn that has been cut and trimmed? Most lawn service companies will come out and cut the grass short-term if given enough notice. Having someone working in the yard will also give the impression that you're home.
6. An alarm system can give you peace of mind- Alarm systems continue to become less expensive to purchase and install and have more features. In addition to burglary and fire, alarm systems can also provide video surveillance with access to computer/smartphones, water sensors, high water alarms for sump pumps, notification of loss of electricity and even temperature sensors.
7. Put an old broom stick or piece of pipe in the track for the sliding glass door- An old broom stick or piece of plumbing pipe cut to length and placed in the track for the sliding glass door will prevent the door from being opened.
To be a truly successful service plumber and business owner in today's world means that I have to be multi-faceted or have many faces in the job that I do each day. Follow the pictures with the text below.
Every time that I have to jump in to a crawlspace for a plumbing repair takes me back to my Marine Corps recruit training days at Parris Island. Doing the "low crawl" can be hard and dirty work, but necessary to accomplish the mission.
Being a plumber today means more than fixing leaking pipes. You have to be able to troubleshoot and repair complex electrical systems in tankless water heaters.
Some of my customers are elderly, retired and living alone. There are times when I take the time to listen to their problems, learn about family and past experiences. In addition to fixing the plumbing problem, service calls can become a pastoral visit of sorts.
When I get called out to someone's house, the news is usually not good. Depending on the situation, I may have to tell a customer that they may be looking at repairs that could cost hundreds to thousands of dollars. It's times like these that I feel like the Grim Reaper.
Things aren't always as they appear, especially when it comes to a leak in a ceiling. Asking lots of questions like a good detective with an eye for detail sometimes is the only way to find a problem. One customer's ceiling leak ended up being the cleaning lady pouring water on the floor around the toilet. It took asking several questions and walking around the house both inside and out to figure this out however.
Being a service plumber means being on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Not so different from doctors of the past and present.
No day is ever the same as the last. I get a chance to meet all kinds of people, in all kinds of different homes all around the greater Indianapolis area. One thing is for sure, I'm never bored with my work and truly love what I do because it's just not plumbing!
With the sub-zero temperatures in Indianapolis right now, frozen water lines that can and may burst is a very real danger in some homes. The big question is how quickly can you shut the water off to the house in case of an emergency? Some people have no idea as to where the main water shut-off valve is located much less whether or not it actually works. If you don't know where the main water shut-off valve is, do you know where the meter pit is? The water to the house can be shut-off at the meter as well, although the water company typically doesn't want homeowners trying to shut the water off at the meter themselves.
In my own home, we have a device called the WaterCop that can turn the main water off to the house from a switch that is located in our kitchen. Using the WaterCop switch, I was able to turn the water off to the house walking from my office to the kitchen in just over 17 seconds. This device can also turn the water off to the house if one of the remote sensors detects moisture. For those wanting more information about WaterCop systems, there is a YouTube video below.
I have replaced 4 water heaters over the past week which is unusually high for me as a 1-man shop. During the winter months, the failure rate for water heaters goes up as the incoming water is significantly colder than it is in the warmer months of the year. If you have a water heater that is 10 years old or older, be sure to check your water heater regularly for leaks at the top or bottom. This would be especially true for water heaters that are located in unheated garages. Getting a water sensor that has an alarm that will go off or send a text message when water makes contact with the sensor can be very helpful to determine when your water heater begins to leak.
A tankless water heater will provide an endless supply of hot water, but this technology comes with a price. And some people don't want to get rid of a water heater that is still working. A possible solution is a thermostatic mixing valve that is installed on the top of the water heater. The temperature of the water heater is turned up to 140 degrees and then the tempering valve will bring the water heater temperature down to 120 degrees using cold water. The working capacity of the water heater can be increased by up to 25%. Please watch the video and contact the office if you have any questions.
I was on a job last year in a not so great neighborhood working on a rental property and couldn't replace the water heater because someone had stolen the electric meter. That was a first for me. And now I just recently read through the Nextdoor web site for my neighborhood, that a neighborhood off of West 10th Street had been targeted for stealing water meters! Several homeowners found that their meters had been tampered with and one homeowner actually had his water meter stolen.
Typically, the only people that should be in the meter pit are the meter readers for the water company and licensed plumbers. If you see an "unauthorized" person tampering/removing a water meter, call the police.
Heffner Plumbing's policy since Day 1 has always been to leave the work area as clean if not cleaner than before any repairs were done. Well, that policy is now in writing for the whole world to see. And if I fail the white glove test, Heffner Plumbing will pay to have your entire home professionally cleaned!
If you are unfortunate enough to have water damage to the point that you will need to file an insurance claim, don't let the failed piece of equipment be hauled off right away. Sometimes insurance adjustors will want to inspect what it was that caused the water damage. Whether it be a water heater, sump pump or a water line, make sure to communicate with the insurance company first to see if they want what caused the water damage.
David Heffner is the owner of Heffner Plumbing with 28 years of experience in the plumbing field. He is also an avid writer who likes to share his experiences and knowledge.