Here at ServiceOne, we believe in treating our customers like our own family. We pass along information about how to prevent problems. We like sharing tidbits about what’s happening in the industry and about the special services, products, and deals that ServiceOne offers.
But sometimes, we must get serious. Really serious.
This is one of those times because it’s a very important message about taking dangerous, potentially deadly, shortcuts on your plumbing.
Tom Geromanos, our plumbing field manager, recently saw something that made his plumber’s blood boil. It was so important to him that he wanted to tell you this story in his own words.
We are grateful for our professional, certified plumbers who work on the ServiceOne team, and once you know this story, you’ll be grateful, too.
Here’s one example of why you should call us if you have a plumbing problem and not worry about saving money by hiring a handyman – or hack - passing himself off as a real plumber.
As told by Tom Geromanos:
I was literally shaking when I saw this situation. Absolutely furious. Furious at the homeowner for being ignorant and putting her whole entire family in jeopardy to save a few dollars! Furious at the so-called "plumber" who installed this because his ignorance could have killed this family and landed him/her in prison.
An entire family was almost killed over a couple of dollars.
When a family needed a new water heater, they entrusted the job to an unlicensed “plumber” who guaranteed he could install it for way less money than they’d have to pay an established company.
But you know what happens when you hire someone who isn’t trained to do the job?
The family ended up calling us to FIX the installation because it would NOT work after the handyman had installed it.
Here’s what went wrong:
Wrong component parts:
First, the guy had used venting that was not OEM (Original Equipment Manufactured for a specific purpose). That meant that he used subpar material not intended to be used in this application. The handyman didn’t know what he was doing and put in a lightweight vent pipe that was only single-wall galvanized venting.
Wrong size of parts used
Not only had he used venting that wasn’t OEM, but when he installed it, he used the wrong size of vent. This left a large gap where it went through the ceiling. That may not seem like a big deal to you, but it’s a huge, and potentially dangerous, life-threatening mistake.
Gaps can be deadly
The venting at the top of the unit, besides not being OEM and the wrong size, left about a 2" gap all the way around.
That’s a major problem.
A gap like that can allow carbon monoxide to leak out. Remember that carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas responsible for killing hundreds of people every year in accidental poisonings.
The customer's child's room is on the other side of the wall. This unit was located inside the home in a utility room. This customer had NO carbon monoxide detectors in their home. A CARBON MONOXIDE LEAK WOULD HAVE KILLED THE ENTIRE FAMILY!
Thankfully, the safety switch was not engaged and the unit would not ignite.
Gas pressure was too high and regulator was absent
The gas pressure to the unit was too high. The manufacturer recommends a MAXIMUM of 10"H20, but this unit was set at 13.5"H20, well over the maximum suggested. In addition, building codes require that a gas regulator is installed to make sure that the gas pressure is within the mandated specs.
No regulator was installed.
Missing drip leg or sediment trap
The gas line does not have a drip leg or sediment trap (whatever you want to call it). This collects the natural moisture in the gas and helps prevent it from entering the gas valves and possibly causing damage.
Missing service valves
Both building codes and manufacturers of water heaters require units to have service valves.
These valves allow you to service and flush your tankless water heater, an essential step in keeping your water heater safe, efficient, and properly maintained.
No service valves were installed.
Why spending money on a great plumber is worth it
This job was done by a so-called "plumber" for $300.
$300 ALMOST COST THIS FAMILY THEIR LIVES.
Come on people, what price tag do you put on your life? How much is your child or pet worth? How much is your life worth? Yes, doing things right is expensive, but it is also SAFE. A licensed, insured plumber would have permits for this job. THIS GUARANTEES THAT IT IS DONE RIGHT. This shoddy-installation job on a water heater could have been an unimaginable tragedy that we heard about on the news. The "plumber," if found, most likely, would have been charged with manslaughter.
Would you trust your health, your spouse's health, your child's health, your family's health to some backwoods, garage-based wannabe doctor? No, you wouldn’t. Then why put your family's life and safety at risk over a little bit of money because you wanted to do things the cheap way?
There is a reason why they say “PLUMBERS PROTECT THE HEALTH OF THE NATION.” We deal with sewage, clean water, gray water, gas, carbon monoxide fumes, and electricity. We do it all.
Yes, plumbers are expensive because they’re highly trained and offer specialized skills and knowledge. But we do not cost more than your life. There’s a reason I always sign my correspondence with this phrase:
“If you think hiring a good plumber is expensive,
wait until you hire a cheap one.”
PLEASE. PLEASE. ONLY HIRE LICENSED AND INSURED PROFESSIONALS, NO MATTER WHAT TRADE!
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