Many DIY'ers have been using this site to gain more information about plumbers as well as about tankless water heaters.
This page is dedicated to you DIY'ers out there (Like me) who are trying to learn more and save money on the things you want
to do around your home. Don't let the title of my book fool you. It is all about helping plumbers serve you
beter to earn the money they deserve. There is not a lot of that going around these days and I hope my book will help
everyone. But now I want to offer more information on things you want to know about at your home.
Are you saving Money when you do a job yourself?
Many times the answer to this question is YES! If there
is a repair that you can do and not hire a contractor then you will have not only saved time and money but built pride in
your home and yourself. These are all great things for everyone. The warnings I have
for you are these:
Know your Limitations!
If you don’t know how to do something that requires a professionally trained person, learn to recognize that
and hire someone. You save money in the long run, get a much better quality project and much better warranty
support. I wish you could know how many times, I have been the one to have to fix a homeowners well meaning
but poor quality workmanship. Not only did they pay for the wrong stuff in many cases, but they wasted
their time botching the job and by the time it was over I had to remove EVERYTHING they had done and start over!
They ended up spending much more in the long run. I don’t care if its fixing your car, your
water heater or your TV set, you can’t beat a man at his trade. Second, think twice about buying certain items over the internet that you know require professional
installation! Many times a person thinks they are getting a good deal on an item for their home and they
purchase it over the web to save money. Great, now who is going to install it? Who will
service it? Did you get the correct size or capacity for your needs? Did you get all
the parts needed for the installation? If not, where will your installer be able to get the parts?
Is it going to be too big or too small? Will it even fit your application? Where
do you turn if you need warranty support? You see many times product are purchased by well meaning homeowners who buy the wrong thing
for their needs only to find out later. Or worse, they buy a thing that nobody wants to install for whatever
reason, and then the HO decides they can do it themselves, installs it wrong and then can’t get a refund.
If they do find a person to install it and they have a problem, the installer will be quick to point out “You
bought it, I just put it in”. The HO is left to deal with it themselves. When professional products
are purchased through professionals, everything is covered and assuming the HO chose a good company, the job goes smoothly.
If something happens to the equipment the installer has complete responsibility to remedy the situation.
If you think you are going to
save a few bucks at the expense of someone else profits…you are RIGHT! Guess what? Here’s
a news flash for you. Profits are what makes things happen. Without being able to make
a profit, a provider of equipment or service would care very little about you or your problem and if you expect to get good
service after having done everything you can to keep them from making money, well…good luck with that. Save money where you can. Fix what you
can fix, hire people for the things you can’t do and recognize the difference before it cost you time, money and agrivation.
“Flat Rate” v/s Hourly Contractors – Is flat rate a good
value for the Homeowner?
There are many contractors who have gone to a so called “Flat
Rate” pricing system for service calls and installations. Many have done it due to pressure by homeowners
who do not trust hourly rates and believe that a contractor might take longer to do a job to get more money out if it. Some
have done it because of their competition, or because their business is so large that pricing had to be structurered to avoid
confusion and mistakes and others simply to make more money.
is the dirty little secret. Contractors usually purchase a Flat Rate price structure from a company that
sets up the rate system. These systems are actually designed to protect the profitability of the contractor…not
you! Most of the time a good hourly company is going to bill you a lot less for the same job than a Flat
Rate contractor, period. Sure there may be a rare time when a job takes longer for whatever reason
than it should and you would think that the flat rate would protect you the consumer. Truth is the extra time is built into
the normal flat rate price anyway.
For the record, I am not against the flat rate pricing!
I happen to believe in contractors making a profit because without it, good contractors won’t be able to stay
in business and flat rates help them do just that.
But doesn’t this protect a homeowner from unscrupulous
contractors? I don’t really think so. Read the article below on hiring a contractor
and you will see that it is very hard to spot bad ones without doing your homework. Here’s the real
truth of it. Contractors are BUSY! They don’t have time to make jobs last longer
to try to milk a few more bucks out of you. They can make more by running off to the next job and billing
them. The more jobs they bill in a day the better. Even the bad contractors are busy!
thing is to hire a good contractor you can trust to do a great job at a fair price whether it is a flat rate price or hourly
Hiring a Plumber
The best advice I could ever give to you the homeowner
and DIY’er is this: Know your limitations! There are hundreds of things around
the house that most people can fix or change themselves with very little knowledge or expertise, however when you overestimate
what you are capable of and botch a job, it will cost you much more to have a professional fix it right that it would have
if you would have just hired them to do it right the first time. (Not to mention fix anything you might have broken while
trying!) Some of you reading this are highly skilled people who could practically build the whole house yourself.
If this is you then you are certainly the exception and not the rule for most DIY’ers.
So how do you go about finding a good plumber? It is a tough thing to do in some areas.
There are many fine companies out there ranging from one truck, one plumber outfits to big companies with dozens of
trucks. There are really good (and unfortunately really bad) contractors that fit any and all descriptions
regardless of their size. I happen to know some large outfits that are top notch and also some that I would
not let anywhere near my home! Same with small outfits. Some are great, and do the best
work and really give personal service, others are not much better than jacklegs, out to make a quick buck at your expense.
All this means it is up to YOU to figure out the difference before you have a bad and expensive experience.
This first thing to do is talk to your friends and family members to see who they have dealt with and how happy
they are with the company. When you are talking to a company don’t be afraid to ask for references
and check them out! ALWAYS make sure that you know they are fully licensed and insured! Hiring
an uninsured contractor because they are cheap is a sure way to have big problems!
There are a lot of small one truck guys out there that are cheap or low priced and that is what they base their
business on. This is a sign of someone who you probably don’t want in your house. Many
of these guys find out too late what it cost to run a plumbing service business and are long gone if you have a problem with
their work or need them again.
By that same token, if you are a homeowner
that calls 10 contractors asking what their rates are, you are probably NOT a customer that good contractor wants to work
for! Most of these customers only care about the price today and have no interest in the quality of the
work or the parts used and give no thought to how long the repair or fixture will last as long as they can get it cheap.
A good contractor will be quick to spot you and get rid of you leaving you to the wolves out there who will get your
cheap job and run with your money. You get what you pay for…normally.
what about the big companies that hire underskilled technicians and call them “plumbers” and charge big bucks?
You have to ask if the technician sent to your home is a licensed plumber in your state or if they are just a “Technician”.
If you are going to pay for a “Plumber” to come to your home to do something you can’t do, you need
to ensure that the person that comes out has the skills you are paying for. A “journeyman”
or a “Master” plumber is what you really want working on your house. At the very least, a plumbers
Apprentice (registered in an apprenticeship program) and directly supervised by a licensed plumber should be doing your work.
Why do you need to bother with all this? Simple. Plumbers deal with the water
your drink and bathe with as well as the disposal of waste in a sanitary and safe manor. Why would you
want someone who is not properly trained to work on these important systems?
Even doing your homework you might
have to try a couple to find one you really like and trust. Once you do, keep their number handy and share
it with your friends and family. This will help ensure that that company is still around the next time
you need them. There really are some fine companies and contractors out there. You need
to find them and know who they are when you need them. There are folks out there in older homes who have
great relationships with their plumbers and electricians. These people are usually very well taken care
of by their contractors and even protected by them because they have become trusted customers and sometimes even friends.
Repeat or regular customers are highly prized by good contractors! If you don’t have a decent
relationship with your plumber, it might be time to look for another one more worthy of your business.
now get those things done you can do yourself! Do a good job, take your time and be safe about it.
Just remember that as soon as you are not certain how to get a project done, you have plenty of great people out there
who want to work for you.
The Finances of energy saving products
Many people look at the cost of a product like a tankless water as a replacement and only look at the first
cost. This is deceiving and there are a lot of other factors to look at to determine if this product is right for you.
A quick word on price of tankless replacement:
Many contractors have not embraced tankless yet or simply want too much money for the work for whatever reason.
The way to choose a contractor for this work is to use the manufacturer’s website and their Dealer Locator Feature.
Most rank dealers somehow to let you know who does the best work and has the most customer satisfaction.
Pick 2 or 3 of the top dealers in your area and contact them for a quote. Please don’t waste
everyone’s time by trying to get 10 prices on the same job. This tells contractors that all you care
about is price and have little regard for quality, knowledge, and support and the best ones will run from you as fast as they
can! You want a great job at a fair price. Right? Now some very large
contractors with high overhead will want sometimes twice as much as someone who is smaller but tankless every day!
Be on the lookout for that. Check references and choose wisely.
Let’s say that you get a quote from a contractor to replace your electric tank water with a Gas Tankless
for $3000. I’m going to use round numbers for this exercise but you can look up anything you like
to confirm. (Yes they run a bit more in in some area and even a bit less in others.) I’m going
to assume that you have done your homework and chosen a contractor with good reviews and experience. You also have a price
to replace your existing electric water heater for $800. A difference of $2200! (I know this is starting
to look like one of those high school math problems but stick with me)
tank is full of junk in the bottom and is costing you so much money that even after paying for the gas to run your new tankless,
you are going to save about $60/Month on your energy budget! This is a REAL average cost in my experience!
$60 x 12 months = $720/year in energy savings! So just in energy savings alone you are going to
pay the difference in cost off in 3.05 years! But not so fast, there is more to consider here.
Now some companies like Rinnai and even some contractors have financing programs avaiable. Lets say
you really want a tankless but you just can't shell out the money. If you finance the job and get a payment of $50/month,
once you factor in the $60/month energy savings on your bill, you are actually money ahead in your houshold budget!
Some willeven lete you pay cash for part of the job adn finance the rest, making it even easier.Tank water heaters
have a life expectancy of 10 years, the good gas tankless…20 Years! So what will replacing your
electric tank cost you again 10 years from now? It’s hard to say but even if you factor in the same $800 cost at year
10, your cost of ownership of that tankless just went down by another $800. Now factor in the $300 Federal
tax credit. That brought your price down to about $3200 in the first place. If you run
out the energy numbers to the just the first 10 years (1/2 of the 20 year life cycle) you have a total savings of about $7200
plus the $800 you would have had to spend again to replace the tank…again! I’m going to run numbers
soon on Solar and show you a similar cost of ownership analysis that will show you how these products not only make sense…they
are a “No-Brainer”.
Just to share one more real
world example; When I built the house I live in currently, I looked into Geothermal heating and cooling. It cost
a LOT more do do your HVAC this way! In fact it was going to add something like $60/month to my house payment!
Here is where it made sense. THe contractor showed me what my estimated energy cost would be. I compared this
to the home I was living in at the time and it was showing me a savings of over 50% per square foot of house! When those
numbers were compared it would mean a savings averaging about $80/month on the energy bills! You got it. $20 a
month ahead on the monthly budget! That makes it a no brainer for me and we found out once we moved in that the numbers
were very real. in fact I am paying about $.45 on the dollar per square foot from my old home. (Which was pretty well insulated
adn met Virginia's energy standards when it was built. At this writing I've been in the new home for a little over 4
years and I would not change a thing. This is how you should be looking at the math if your decision is purely financial/price
driven. Of course other people choose these kinds of prodcuts for other reasons too.