I have to write about my recent plumbing experience. I have always been leery about hiring contractors for anything, as my experiences have always been less than good when dealing with these folks (I’ll write about my scratched…or actually gouged wood floor during a dishwasher installation at some point). Plumbers, however, have always made me twitch the most.
I am a plumbing knucklehead – at least I thought I was. We had two leaks that were getting to be pretty annoying. One in the kitchen sink, and the other in the bathroom sink. Leaks – pretty standard stuff. I don’t have a lot of spare time on my hands, and time is money. So I decided I would call a plumber to get my leaks fixed. I was prepared that the bill would probably be a few hundred bucks.Â That was ok with me at the time.Â I just needed the stupid leaks fixed!
I called a company that had a good website, and they were at the top of the search.Â They said that they would charge $60 to just show up and diagnose the problem, regardless if work was done or not. Â They said they don’t work by the hour, but by the job.Â That should have been red-flag number one for me. Â Ok, whatever, I thought. Â Just come fix the leaks.
The guy shows up, and he is polite enough, and even puts on slippers over his shoes.Â The truck he drove up in was pretty nice, so all is good at this point. Â He looks at the two leaks, and says “these should be easy to fix, and I have the parts in my truck.” Â Great, I thought. Â Easy, and parts available – I like the sound of this. Â So he says that he needs to draft up an estimate, and it will take a few minutes. Â He spends a few minutes working his magic on his calculator, and looking up the “prices” of the parts in his catalog book. Â Again, I would have been happy spending a few hundred bucks on this jobÂ – even knowing that this job would take this guy only an hour or so tops.
He comes back at me and tells me that the total would be close to $900. Â I almost lost my lunch on that one.Â Seriously – leaks.Â We aren’t replacing a water heater or having a root canal.Â Â Leaks!
He then comes at me (has the gall) with “Well, if you sign up for our monthly service plan, I can knock it down to $600.Â The “service plan” was $25 for a monthly priority response, or something that I knew I didn’t need within the first 3 words of his explaining it. Â How many people need a friggin plumber every month?
The whole thing was a sham, and most of my friends say they have had a similar experience. Â I know that a lot of plumbers take advantageÂ – not all of them – but I do believe that many of them play their pricing like they are throwing out bids on the Price is Right.
I let the guy go without getting the work on and I told myself that I just need to put on my thinking cap and fix it myself.Â I went online and found some great tutorials with photos on how to fix a leak.Â The parts cost me a total of about $10 (a few O-rings, some teflon tape, and a new cartridge).Â I got home from the hardware store, followed the steps, and fixed the leaks (both of them) within an hour.
I will now attempt to fix anything in my home that breaks with my own hands before I ever call a contractor again.Â I encourage anyone who has plumbing problems to look online first and give it a try (assuming you don’t have water or sewage pouring into your home – at that point a professional is probably needed). Â There are plenty of resources online, and most problems aren’t too difficult.
The only tools I used were a pair of pliers and a Phillip’s head screwdriver….and my thinking cap.