Thursday, August 28, 2008

Who is your plumber?

There are a few types of plumbing companies and a few different types of plumbers. The types vary from state to state and since I'm in Washington, let's look at here.

Repair and rooter: This is a specialized field that most people are acquainted with. These are the heroes who get your plumbing system working safely and to code. This is what Ball Plumbing does and we do it well.

To work for Ball Plumbing, the repair plumber has to have a clean record, clean driving license, be a registered Washington State Plumber, and be very knowledgeable about plumbing systems.

Ball Plumbing is privately owned by me and I'm a licensed Journeyman Plumber who started this company, but not all companies are like mine. There are franchises, inherited, bought, married into, and all combos therein. In Washington, anyone can own any kind of company, but you need licensed individuals doing the work or you will get fined and/or jailed.

I've seen companies like mine come and go that were run by non-plumbers who thought it was all profit and no overhead...yeah, right. Just the opposite, bubba-breath. This ain't no disco, this ain't no foolin' around, this is hardcore customer service combined with terrible conditions under great stress surrounded by anxious customers.

And I love it.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Dog Days of Summer

Man, it's quiet out there and I'm lovin' it! I'm on summer schedule which means Saturday and Sunday is closed...plumber gone fishin'-type of deal. Problem is, come Monday everybody calls and I'm busier tha all git.

Yesterday I had two more disposers and today was disposer-free. I did have a whirlpool tub repair, a stoppage, a sink drain repair, and a toilet rebuild. I feel like a truck driver sometimes because of all the miles I can log.

Off for the weekend!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Bellingham garbage...disposers

Sometimes I get runs of certain jobs for no reason other than I get called to do it.

I had three garbage disposers today: Sudden Valley, Fairhaven, and Blaine. Since I carry two types of Insinkerator (but these three customers wanted the same model), I had to go and pick up two more at two different times.

A few months ago, I had a run of water heaters---two a day for 3 weeks---the supply house still talks about that!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Quiet Day...for once!

The yellow page ad problem got resolved with a 25% reduction, which is fair considering all my proof mysteriously disappeared.

I had a water heater in Bellingham that was dripping out of the drain valve. Not too bad, if it was caught a month ago. Unfortunately, the drip rotted the wood stand and the 800 lb. water heater fell through to the garage floor. Luckily, the gas was off because the house was just sold!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Wrong phone number on yellow page ad

I have a full page and a big column ad in the Yellowbook/MacGregor phone book, okay? Since this Whatcom County/Bellingham coverage is only 160,000 souls including kids, mother-in-laws, and Canadians-who-own-here, the cost isn't as high as Manhattan which has that many people per building.

This year I had the ad done by the same person who did my website. She was convenient, available, and cheap. Those of you who have made a decision based on "convenient, available, and cheap" know what the outcome is going to be....what can I say? I was busy and don't have the patience for ad work, anyway.

The header of the full page ad has the two correct numbers in 25 pt. font, but on the footer one of the numbers is off by one. It reads, in 10 pt. font, 360-733-1293 instead of 1292. At least 5 people a day call that number and they usually get an answering machine. The ones they do get through get either Mr. or Mrs. "We've had this number for 40 years and we aren't giving it up." I offered to buy the number and pay for all the costs, but they insist that this number is what has kept them alive for the last 40 years.

I may or may not survive this year....

Anyway, I did a Bellingham garbage disposer for a lady whose husband is deployed. 12 more months and he'll be home. She got the special price.

From there, it was on to Birch Bay and a Canadian toilet or is that a toilet owned by a Canadian? She was a trip---knew more about US politics than most citizens. I rebuilt her toilet and she's a happy Canuck.

Friday, August 1, 2008

That sewer's history!

Another full day on that 50' sewer in Bellingham, but it's done. The work-at-home dad/customer doesn't like my gruff attitude, but after 16 hours in a sewage-soaked ditch, I did the best I could.

The backhoe saved some time, being it was more mud than dirt.

I did have to jetter (high pressure water) the remaining section under the alley because it was clogged with some packed in sewage.

What a mess, but I'm glad I stuck it out.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bellingham type of day

Wow---I'm doing the hardest sewer replacement yet. It's not deep, rocky, or hilly, but it is wet!

The top of the ground was wet and puddling in some places, but I thought that there was another leak; that it couldn't be the sewer that's 4 feet under. I was wrong. After 5 hours of digging around, I found a cesspool-not an intentional one-where a sewer should have been.

I tried to rooter it through the open sewer, but the line is so bad, I think the snake was going through mud...or not. I'm having the City of Bellingham check their line, too.

I'm getting a backhoe in tomorrow and having it done. What a mess.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Good Plumber here

Another day driving from one end of Whatcom county to the other. At least the weather is nice.

I did a quick water heater repair in Glacier, WA. The connectors corroded right through so I unsoldered and then soldered on new connectors.

From there I went to Fairhaven, WA. to clear a washing machine drain line stoppage. Easy enough, but the drain didn't have a trap! I added one easily enough (for me), but there should have been one there. DIYers cause a lot of damage and usually spend more in the short run.

Not that I can blame 'em. This homeowner had called another plumber out of the phone book, (small ad, big promises) and the plumber quoted him some outlandish fix for a weird price. Luckily, the homeowner had the sense to call us.

I think my motto "Honest, Reliable, Local" will get painted on the truck.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


A Grand Dame of Fairhaven, WA (95-year-old Lady) had broken a very valuable glass and most of it went down her disposal. She wasn't amused when it took me less than a minute to repair it, but at least I was able to salvage the unit, if not put the glass back together. I hope I'm as active, good-looking, and richer than her at 95. Well, I can sure rule out good-looking....:)

Did a water heater in Blaine, WA today. Darn thing was only 9 years old and the tank gave out. Of course, the homeowners were on vacation when it blew out, so the garage walls were damaged. It was a 50 gallon Bradford White water heater and I replaced it with the same. Not much choice up here for brands.

From there, I went to Sedro-Woolley, WA to a mobile home that had a broken PVC water main under the house. It took longer for the glue to dry than anything. Darn PVC, anyway.

So I went to a millionaire to a border town to a mobile home in a logging town....such is the life of a plumber!

Monday, July 28, 2008

ABS City

It's been an ABS sorta day. First, I had a broken ABS fitting in Sudden Valley. What was sad was the house is only 4 years old. The plumbing (probably the whole house) was done by a "boom" construction company.

Then across town to Fairhaven to a collapsed ABS sewer line. That's scheduled for replacement on Thursday.

I use only the best PVC material and fittings and all my work is permitted and closely inspected and today proves me right.

Stupid Keller Supply. I'm actually looking forward to them moving---I'll be forced to use other suppliers. They are real close to me right now and that's the only reason I use them.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

First Post!

I tried to upload this to godaddy, but after 10 minutes and getting tangled up in things I don't have time for, I'll stay with the program.
Being Sunday, we went to see some tall ships in Blaine today. The crew was hung over and pissy as all git, so we got the short tour and rotated out. The ship, Lady Washington, was in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie, so we all were starstruck.
I went by Keller Supply's new store in Ferndale. Big and new, fer sure, but far away from town. I'll need to get my toilets, faucets, and assorted plumbing goods from someplace closer.