Sunday, September 30, 2012

Professionalism in Plumbing

I'm going to be defining Ball Plumbing Company's Code of Ethics in the coming months. The first is Professionalism.

From this day on, we swear to offer maximum Professional Conduct in all our affairs. Even me, I swear it. Really.

Imagine what maintaining a professional attitude is  like for a plumber who spends the time under houses, digging in the yard, or rescuing a cell phone from the carnivorousness toilet!

Coupled with the physical demands of plumbing, plumbers need to know the how and whys of making water, gas, propane, and air flow correctly. Acting professionally requires knowing the technical and we do. Usually.

Also, a huge part of professionalism in plumbing is honestly getting the homeowner to part with the hard earned cash. Our hourly rates and mark-ups are transparent and posted on the internet for all to see. The contract prices for most jobs are in the book and written in stone.

Customer service. Many people do customer service as part of their job. The plumber, electrician, car mechanic, doctors, lawyers....lots of careers require customer service skills. All of us will tell you it's the hardest part. No need for me to get into specifics, is there.

What's great plumbing customer service to one person is horrible to the next. Nothing much anyone can do about that except to keep the customer's needs in the forefront.

So, while acting in a professional manner is difficult even for the ultra-professional, we at Ball Plumbing promise to maintain it while covered in mud and freezing our butts off. Or wiping off the rescued cell phone..ewwwww! 

See? I'm not that big of a jerk. Usually.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

P.O.M. (Plumbers On Motorcycles)

As reported by the Herald, the Bellingham  Harley Davidson dealership is closing the end of October for unclear reasons. That's too bad because a) hate to see any business close and b) every town needs a Harley dealership. Harley's an American original and as familiar as Sears.

Here's my Harley motorcycle:

Read more here:

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sewer stoppage in Mt Vernon., Wa

Think you have a sewer problem? This customer has a 50 year old, 200' long sewer that travels 160' feet under a city sidewalk and a street to tie into the city's combination storm drain/sewer.

I had to use 1-1/2 reels of sewers cable to clear the stoppage.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Christmas water heater in Sudden Valley

Last Christmas Eve, I had this emergency plumbing call from an old customer. The unit was in the finished basement (stuffed full of WWU students) and was in a very cramped space.

This is the new water heater and is installed to code. I did have to add a shut-off,  as there wasn't one.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Water leak at the water meter

Sometimes a small leak can defy even the best DIY'er. This water meter had been repaired five times by the owner of a quadplex in Ferndale, Wa. and, according to a tenant, by another local plumbing outfit.

The before picture:
water Meter
Ferndale, Washington water meter
The after picture:
After picture in Ferndale, Wa

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Some plumbing reviews from around the web

SuperMedia operates and sells advertising on The views expressed in reviews are the opinion of each respective reviewer and do not necessarilly reflect the view of SuperMedia.
5 of 5 stars
Apr 21, 2010
by Guest53214
Ball Plumbing was very helpful when my toilet overflowed. Even though it was after-hours, Ball Plumbing was at my house within half an hour of when I called and the toilet was fixed within thirty minutes. I highly recommend Ball Plumbing...the... (More)
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5 of 5 stars
May 24, 2008
by Guest16532
I had a huge leak in the front yard and Robert replace the entire line within 48 hours. I got other bids and his was lower and the scheduling was flexible for my needs.
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Yet still more Google Plumbing Reviews

These were lost in one of the many Google updates and/or Ball Plumbing moves. More still are floating around the internet.
3 Reviews from everyone

A Google User reviewed a year ago
Overall 3 / 3
They were extremely helpful and super fast. I called for a kitchen drain/ garbage disposal, but I was having a secondary problem in my bathroom and didn't have enough room or the right tools to get the job done. Robert took care of it at the same time for free! I highly suggest calling Ball if you have a plumbing need.

A Google User reviewed a year ago
Overall 3 / 3
Great service, very professional! Ball plumbing came by to give me an estimate within hours of my call, and did a full repair the next day for a fair, upfront price. The repair was excellent, went above and beyond. This is the second time I've dealt with Ball and I recommend them to anyone looking for a plumber in the Bellingham area.

A Google User reviewed a year ago
Overall 3 / 3
Very Helpful. Ball plumbing was a great choice when we had an overflowing/clogged toilet. They were up front about the cost, so there were no hidden fees. The plumber was friendly and respectful of our home, and even cleared our slow sink drain at no extra charge. I'd definitely recommend them!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Ball Plumbing reviews from Google

Google's internet misplaced my reviews--not entirely their fault--except for the one bad one, so I'll post them here. Including the bad one...

1 - 7 of 7  
Danielle ‎ - Feb 23, 2012
Recommend!! We had Robert replace our 1930's toilet and sewer pipes. He was professional, clearly answered our questions, and did great work. We liked him so much, we called again when we needed to replace a failed water heater. We trusted him to work in our house while we weren't home. He did great work, did it quickly, and with a great sense of humor. For both jobs the work was a fair price. Also, we love the toilet-shaped chocolates they give customers! 
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful? Yes - No - Flag as inappropriate
Petlover ‎ - Dec 6, 2011
They overcharged me and then failed to put my house back the way they found it. The workmanship was very good. It's unclear where the high praise is coming from, unless the other reviews are friends and/or relatives of the company. I have lost faith in Google Reviews, since that is what I had based my patronage of this company upon. I will from this point forward only ask people I know personally for contractor recommendations. 
1 out of 5 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful? Yes - No - Flag as inappropriate
Response from the owner
This review is an anonymous, malicious lie. I would never do what's stated. We're the cheapest in town at $66.00 per hour. On our website, click Services & Rates for more info. All my reviews are from real customers.
Edit - Delete
Ball Plumbing - Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Verified owner

Sarah ‎ - Nov 16, 2011
I highly recommend Ball Plumbing for their high quality service and superior expertise. We had a kitchen sink installed along with a brand new garbage disposal. Robert went above and beyond to make sure the job was done correctly and in a timely fashion. We couldn't be happier! 
3 out of 4 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful? Yes - No - Flag as inappropriate
Michael ‎ - Nov 11, 2011
Very fast and helpful. Great service by Robert. I had a clogged drain which lead to having to remove the garbage disposal and replace the faucet. bigger job than I originally expected but everything was explained and made sense. I'd use them again. 
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful? Yes - No - Flag as inappropriate
Chris ‎ - Apr 22, 2010
Great Experience! Ball Plumbing was very helpful when my toilet was overflowing. Even though it was after-hours, Ball Plumbing was at my house within half an hour and it was fixed in another thirty minutes. I highly recommend Ball Plumbing...the price was reasonable and the service was friendly and professional. 
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful? Yes - No - Flag as inappropriate

Nickname unavailable ‎ - Dec 30, 2008
Very Thorough and efficient!! They showed up within 30 minute of being called to repair the broken pipes of our 1890's home. They provided excellent service for a decent price, without any hidden costs. I greatly appreciated their friendly and informative way of working with us to fix the problem. I will definitely use them in the future! 
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful? Yes - No - Flag as inappropriate
patrickmccart43 ‎ - Oct 16, 2008
Excellent Service and Fair Pricing Real quick and easy evaluation of the situation and fair pricing for sure. Polite service and quick response. I have and older house that needed to be updated to protect the structural integrity of my kitchen and bath. Robert was here the next day after I had called to do the work, quote the price and finish the job thanks for the excellent service and plumbing. 
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful? Yes - No - Flag as inappropriate

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Ball Plumbing labor rates increase

We're raising the Ball Plumbing plumber labor rates to $88.00 an hour after having it $66.00 an hour for a long time. The increase will put us just below market rates.

Commercial plumbing accounts will remain at the old rates for now and will continue to be based on past business totals.

The new minimum is $133.00. It includes one (1) hour of labor and the $45.00 service charge.
Plumbing apprentice or laborer rates increase to $44.00 an hour.
The 15 minute time increments will remain.
The $45.00 plumbing service charge remains.

Overtime plumber labor rates will remain 50% ($132.00/hour) for after 5:00pm and weekends.

The parts mark ups will remain 50% over our cost for plumbing products under $100.00 and 100% for items over $100.00. Our plumbing parts costs are mostly retail costs.

The price book (contract prices or flat rate) is based on the $66.00 price and will stay like that for now. We may charge extra for parts and part collection, as those prices have risen dramatically.

The website will be updated with these prices soon.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Google Places and Ball Plumbing

Google Places is (are?) having a hard time keeping Ball Plumbing listed in their numbered list, though the organic listing is showing nicely.

What a weird, wonderful and interesting e-era we live in. It makes the inventions of the radio and t.v. pale in comparison.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


The day that changed America.

That day that changed me:

When I use Netflix, I check the date of the film to see if it's pre-9/11. Films/shows made post-9/11 are strongly preferred.

When I think of heroes, Flight 93 is the standard.

When I hear "911", my head twitches just a little.

Monday, September 10, 2012

SEO and Bellingham water meters

Man-o-man, I hate this computer stuff. I keep drifting off to things like plumbing, mechanical or female. If there's a local SEO who wants to trade plumbing for SEO work, contact me. Please.

Bellingham proper is getting more water meters installed with a deadline of 2014 to have the whole town metered. For those who don't know, most homes in Bellingham don't have a water meter. They pay a flat rate for the service. While most people are conserving water, there are lots of leaks and dripping faucets out there. If they were metered, those leaks would have been repaired immediately.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

I’ve spent most of today updating the website to meet Google’s new (to me) specs. My SEO skills were very 2001, but they worked for 5 years, so all is good. My site was a real mess, too.

 Google’s trying very hard to make their Google Places/Google+ as efficient as possible, which means reworking the system. Not easy to do considering how many changes businesses go through. We moved twice in three years and had to change and deleted listings and websites.

 My organic results have been nuked. My website was a mess with dead links, old keywords and wrong page titles. If I hadn’t been with Google since Day One, they would have nuked me long ago. I cleaned up all the pages and even read the directions Google supplies. Whoa.

 So, my DIY webmaster and SEO skills are now as sharp as a spoon. I hope to be listed again soon.