Wednesday, October 31, 2012

DIY Garage Apartment in Bellingham, WA

Sometimes, people really amaze me. Without getting into the who, where, or why of this job, the customer hired not-a-plumber to bootleg a kitchen and washing machine into a garage. Money and time was spent before it all went bad due to old, open permits on the legal unfinished bathroom in the garage.

My camera committed suicide while taking these photos, so the camera phone will have to do.

This photo has two different plastics glued together using primer and ABS glue, the washing machine hose tied into the sewer (they used long w.m. hoses behind walls and through studs, no p-trap):

This is some of what I cut out. If a plumber ever had a bad acid trip, this is what he would see:

The people who framed the legal bathroom got into the act and put a nail through the pipe app 6" below finished floor:

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Ball Plumbing does toilets, too.

This 20 y.o. toilet was in a master bathroom of a nicer Bellingham home. Notice the leak in the back.

This is its replacement. It's a Comfort Height (a few inches higher bowl) model with a slow closing lid:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sewer repair in Mt. Vernon, Wa

This was a messy one.

This configuration tied two neighbor's sewers together. The neighbor had replaced his sewer 20 years ago, but the tie-in was still on my customer's line, as was the main sewer.

We had to dig it up, put in a clean out to access the 80' that runs under slab and a clean out to do the sewer to the street. Confusing, yes. And dirty.

After we did the repairs, we still had to clean the sewer.



Monday, October 22, 2012

Water pipe in Fairhaven, Wa

No, not the water pipe to smoke with. This job was in Fairhaven, Wa  from the water meter to inside the house. We replaced the sewer, too.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Plumber's Office

I saw Google's facilities and was amazed on how clean and controlled the environment is:

This is a typical plumber work condition. It was 35f  there that day and the plumbers spent two days repiping because of multiple freeze breaks:

Not too many pics of that job. The plumbers were more interested in getting it done...:

While residential plumbing may not be Google-level pipe fitting, residential plumbers are artists in their own right.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Call Before You Dig: A Free Service

There's a phone number everyone must call before digging in your yard.

That number is 811.

The website:

What happens when you call 811 is a request goes out to all the utilities and they send locators out who will mark the utilities at your property line. If the mark is near where you are digging, be very, very careful digging around it.

If it's an emergency, they get right on it. Otherwise, it's a 48 hour turn around.

For example, the picture is a typical yard (happens to be in Fairhaven) within a few inches of the public sidewalk. The yellow pipe is gas, the small white pipe is unknown (!), the large white pipe is drainage, and the old rusty pipe is their water main, which the plumbers replaced.

All those pipes were less than 8" below ground level. Scary stuff.

Remember 811 and it is 100% free.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Water pressure regulators or PRV

Many homes have pressure regulators, sometimes known as PRV (pressure regulator valves), because the incoming water pressure is over 80 psi. Federal regs mandate that any pressure over 80 has to be regulated to save water. Beyond being law, anyone who pays by the drip will testify that the lower the pressure, the less water is used.

Where these PRVs are located is a challenge on the scale of NPR's Sunday Puzzle. See that brown splotch in the center of the picture? That's the PRV under a house in Mt. Vernon, Wa.

My camera had a great flash on it and I had a drop light. It was totally dark down there.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Frozen Pipe Break

The weather changes quickly here and can drop below 32 real quick. Last weekend, the temperature dropped below 32 twice.

The biggest problem is hose bibs freezing and splitting. Fortunately, Ball Plumbing uses frost-free bibs. Frost-free does not mean you can abuse them--you still need to take the hose off each winter---but it does mean that if the bib does freeze break, it minimizes water damage.

This is a hose bib with a freeze break:

Monday, October 8, 2012

DIY Hotel in Sedro Woolley

This job was in a hotel in Sedro Woolley. A boiler that size could literally explode like a small bomb.

The handyman tried to fix the boiler's recirc piping with compression fittings and pvc fittings. While we were staring at it, the handle on his plastic ball valve melted and shot across the room. I was able to shut off the water, thankfully, and repair it in short order.

This picture is the broken valve.

I didn't take a picture of my repair, but it cost them under $200.00 including parts, labor and tax.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Plumbing Discounts

We're offering a 5% cash discount on all invoices (excluding the tax) through the end of the year.

Not to be combined with any other discounts, etc, etc.