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When do you decide to listen to your wife and call a plumber

Posted 03-02-2009 at 07:03 AM by faucetman886
Updated 03-02-2009 at 07:06 AM by faucetman886 (Fix title)

Well we can always resort back to the “Hennecy” rule. If you are a regular reader of my blogs you will recall that my best friend for 40+ years, Mike Hennecy, has been struck by lightning twice and nearly electrocuted numerous times while trying to perform simple household do-it-yourself projects. So if your history hasn’t been filled with successes, if you have had to call the electric or water utility because something you did caused the neighborhood to lose power or water, or if your insurance claim adjuster is more familiar with your home than members of your family then you should consider calling a professional to do the job. I spent my entire career as an accountant and lived by an old adage. I agreed to not doing plumbing work if the plumber wouldn’t do taxes. I always felt I could make more money working at my career than I could as a plumber so it was more profitable to stay an accountant and earn enough to pay the plumber. It also kept peace in the family and saved thousands in damages to my home and in insurance deductibles.
The following are some guide lines as to when you should consider calling a plumber instead of doing it yourself:
1. You don’t know where the main shut off valve is or worse yet you don’t know that there are even main shut off valves on houses to start with. By code and sensibility all homes have a main shut off valve which closes off the water from the source, well or city water line, to you primary water line. Sometimes this valve is somewhere on the exterior of the house or if you have a basement will probably be where the main line enters the house in the basement. There should also be smaller shut off valves at each fixture which allow you to cut the water off for a specific sink toilet, etc without having to shut the water off to the whole house.
2. If you don’t own the proper tools to do the job which includes having to Google for the definition of “pipe wrench”. You may be a tool collector and think that good tools are a great investment but if you do your own plumbing only once in a 5 year period the plumber should be cheaper than the tools. Without the tools you won’t have to lend them to your neighbor who never returns anything either.
3. You have a sudden loss of water pressure and you haven’t done ANYTHING TO CAUSE IT, or especially if you DID DO SOMETHING TO CAUSE IT. READ POINT #1 AGAIN AND GO SHUT THE WATER OFF! Yeah it could be a supply problem but “Murphy’s Law” proves that it’s actually a broken pipe in the basement. Just in case it’s a supply problem and if you’re not on your own water source, check with your neighbors to see of they have lost water pressure also. This will save you a plumber’s trip charge only to find out that the city water department is repairing a broken main down the street.
4. You have no hot water. A bad sign is when you open the closet where the hot water heater is located and you are greeted by a small Tsunami. You might also check the circuit breaker on your hot water heater, if its electric. This will mandate whether you will need an electrician or a plumber or if you have Mike Hennecy’s luck maybe you will need both and the fire department
5. Sewage water is backing up into your house and down the halls, then you notice that large pool of mushy grass and bad smell coming from your septic tank. This means you have more than a stopped up sink or toilet. When sewage backs up into the house it usually means that your drain lines have been compromised in some way. This can be roots growing through the lines or a septic tank that has reached its maximum or both.
6. It was 7 degrees outside last night and you were more concerned with keeping your feet warm than protecting your pipes. The give away to this problem is when as the temperature outside climbs the water level in your basement rises. You may also notice that you can take a shower in rooms other than the bathroom because water is spewing from the ceiling. A simple protective action is to keep a trickle of water running with several faucets in the house. The theory is that moving water is more difficult to freeze. If you live in a more frigid climate you can take more severe precautions which include wrapping main pipes with low voltage wiring to heat the water lines or install insulation on all pipes which are subjected to cold weather. These last two items you should be able to do yourself.

One final thought, as referenced in my opening, you should always call a professional to do the job when your significant other is screaming for you to do so and is known for not forgetting ANY OF YOUR PREVIOUS HANDYMAN ADVENTURES. Remember plumbers usually are cheaper than divorce lawyers. I said USUALLY. There are exceptions to every rule.
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