I have a customer who is frugal with their dollars, and that’s good. But not always.
She had a toilet that needed all the tank parts replaced. She had her son-in-law come over to do the work. He is an apprentice with a large commercial plumbing company. This should have been a red flag.
Commercial plumbing is completely different than residential plumbing. And new construction is completely different than service and repair work. So the son-in-law was completely out of his experience and expertise comfort zone.
The shut off valve on the left would not shut off, so the decision was made to replace the valve. This was the first mistake. The valve could have been easily repaired.
The second mistake was to try to replace it with the valve on the right. He bought the wrong kind in two ways:
- It’s an angle stop, not a straight stop like the one on the left
- It’s a compression stop. It won’t work with polybutylene or PEX pipe.
Not knowing any better, he installed it anyway.
The result? When he turned the water to the house back on, the stop popped off of the polybutylene pipe, and water went everywhere.
The call came at 11pm at night. She turned the water off to the house and scheduled me to come out at 8am. No one likes to pay overtime rates. The water line repair and valve replacement was easy, ‘cause it’s always easy when you know how. Rebuilding the toilet was a little trickier because the tank bolts were rusted. Once I got them off the rest went pretty smooth and soon I had the water back on and the toilet working again.
The moral of the story is to know your limitations. Don’t attempt to make repairs on systems you know nothing about, especially pressurized water systems. Disaster will ensue. I’m all about being frugal with things like food, clothes, fishing poles, etc. But not on things like car repairs, electrical, HVAC, or plumbing repairs. Something bad could really go wrong if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Plumb Smart has many years of experience in all phases of plumbing, commercial and residential. I’ve been a licensed Master Plumber since 1987. When it comes to plumbing, I’ve seen and done everything. But when I established my company in 2002, I decided to focus on residential repairs and replacements. That’s all I’ve done for the last 17 years.
I’m not an expert in commercial plumbing anymore because I haven’t done it in a long time. You have to keep doing it to keep from getting rusty. It’s not like learning to ride a bike. But I am an expert in residential plumbing – installation, repairs, and replacements because I do it every day… except when I’m gone fishing.
So stick to what you know and call an expert when you’re out of your comfort zone.
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