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Thread: To whom it may concern

  1. #1
    Licensed Grump GrumpyPlumber's Avatar
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    Default To whom it may concern

    "imposter impersonating a plumber. Attitude too negative; glosses over too many things. Arrived here concurrently with crisis in online forum in another group that is supposedly restricted to professionals only. "

    To whom it may concern, I'm a licensed, self employed plumber.
    COMPLETELY unaware of any crisis. (until now)
    The insinuation is irrelevant...I am what I am.
    I came here in hopes of meeting fellow professionals and exchanging idea's.
    I read Terry's posts in another forum and decided to hop over and see whats here....I'm new there as well, I use the exact same screen name.
    I have posted enough reasoning on the boards for you to see why I don't think freely offering "plumbing lessons" to the diy'er is a good idea.
    Faucet washer replacements, washing machine connection, toilet flappers, sure.

    There's a reason we are required to do an apprenticeship, attend years of school, have liability insurance in order to pull permits and have our work inspected, by a seasoned pro who has met the states requirements to do so.
    Because even though I'm licensed, I'm human and subject to err, to which it seriously scares me to think homeowners might come here for tutorials on installing a water heater or boiler, still subject to the same human tendency to err, without the experience.
    "Attitude too negative"
    You're right...I could be more tactfull...but It's in the news all the time..."co deaths", "gas explosion kills family", pardon my rudeness...please.
    I worked my tail off, as do all plumbers, to get my license...paid good money for my schooling, studied code till it became second nature, and continue to stay abreast of current code (part of my interest in coming here, but thats backfiring alot with the differences in each state).
    I don't know what you do for a living, but I bet you worked hard to get to where you are, do you feel it's ok for people to "dabble" in your occupation without experience or some form of training?
    Would you feel comfortable knowing your neighbor were working on, lets say, an irrigation system, without proper backflow to connect to your street main?
    What about the local mortuary's water connection?
    Plumbers see it all the time...people with no idea how important the most simple things can be...deciding to do work the way they want to do it only to reap the consequencial "benefits" later on.

    I see ALOT of traffic here with people who are asking about what, why or how their plumber is doing what he's doing...thats great, feels good to help them to understand.
    I see alot of fellow plumbers here that are great to chat with. (kinda like stopping by the supplier...any time of day or night)
    I also see alot of people looking to save a buck...we have a responsibility to know when NOT to cross the line.
    Flapper, yes - Boiler, NO!

  2. #2

    Thumbs down

    Not to worry... DIY'ers won't take away your livelihood.

    For every one person that comes here asking for advice, there are probably a thousand others who pick-up the phone book and call a plumber. They just can't be bothered. They're too busy, and don't have the time or inclination to deal with plumbing of all things. Besides most folks would rather pay someone and enjoy their weekends.

    And pay they do... here in NYC plumbers bill $200/hour with little complaints. In fact, it's probably among the highest paid "trades" to be in. They're certainly making more than electricians, carpenters, drywallers, framers, roofers, tile workers... a lot more.

    Many who come here asking for advice are serious about doing the job right, and should be applauded for that. Would you rather they don't ask and screw things up?

    Nobody posting here is taking any bread off your table.

  3. #3

    Default Some do a better job.

    I have been in the remodeling business for years and am not a licensed plumber. I can tell you this--many of the plumbing repairs I see done by some licenesed plumbers is terrible which means just because someone has a license does not mean they can do a better job than someone that does'nt--with the right advice. I've seen jobs that have been done by licensed plumbers who have gone through years of training, schooling, etc that I a non licensed plumber would be embarrased by had I done them. Out of 5 different plumbing companies I have used in the past, only one of them will I allow back onto any of my jobs. Sometimes homeowners are so disgusted by the work that they want someone who does the work to do it right regardless if they have a license or not. When I see tub drains directly over circuit breaker boxes with no shields installed, gobs of solder all over the floors, purple pvc cleaner all over finished floors, floor joists cut into and not properly re-enforced just to run pipes, chunks of lead that have to be fished out of drains because they have fallen down a vent on a roof, tub overflow drains with no seals, loose handles of fixtures, etc, etc, etc, I begin to wonder what did some of these people learn on their apprenticeship? I do agree that some plumbing requires a professional to engineer a proper system but as far as physical skill is concerned many non professionals have the upper hand over alot of professionals to do things right for alot less money. I think that this web site allows many DIY'ers to tackle projects in their own homes, in a safe manner, and with such advice allows them to build their skills to tackle some of the simple projects around their house. Then you also have the union plumbers by the thousands in this country who do work on the side for cash without ever pulling a required permit which further encourages people to try things on their own. Heck if the plumber doesnt need a permit than maybe I can try a few things on my own. Not trying to start a riff about your original post but I think that arrogance in any profession is a bad thing. Gee I wonder how the show This Old House became so popular? They have a licesensed plumber come in and show people how to solder pipes and then let them do some of it. Go figure

  4. #4
    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
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    Talking what will be will be---get over it

    Perhaps you have a point but you are swimming aginst
    the tide......

    I remember my father getting all upset when
    they came out with PVC pipe back in the early 60s

    now anyone with a hack-saw and a can
    of glue can do plumbing---- very true...
    but we are still here
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    now PEX pipe has taken this to a whole nother level..
    you ought to see the slop I see every day installed
    by home-owners with a crimping tool..and its all bought at Lowes or Home Depot.....

    and it probably wont last 10 years.....

    I got to keep a good supply of shark bite fittings in my truck
    just to survive every combat situation I get into anymore...

    just to basically get out alive .....

    I cant totally revamp the god awful mess I am stareing at
    but I can do what I gotta do......to win .........

    I just shake my head and move on...

    the fellows that come along in 25 years from now are gonna be
    very , very busy...........

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    GRUMPEY......

    If you want to really make your point....
    why not get a bunch of plumber buddies in your area ,
    (try to enlist the ---more-sober ---clean shaven ---ones)

    make up a few signs and go down to the local Home
    depot or Lowes and stand out side and protest.....


    you could approach your congressman--or legislature and
    try to outlaw HD and LOWES from selling
    much else than toilet flappers in your state.....
    ...but my guess is that you will get laughed out of his office....

    you know that money talks and bullshi/ walks.......

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    you might as well get over it because people in my
    area are becoming more hard pressed to save money
    with gas at about 3 bucks a gallon.....

    and rightt or wrong... they are going to try to
    save or scrimp where they can.....


    and their aint no stoppping them...



    so I supppose the least you can do is try to advise them
    as best possible so they dont shoot their own foot off....




  5. #5
    Licensed Grump GrumpyPlumber's Avatar
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    Default

    Joe, you're right...business is booming for me..more and more of my work comes from referrals and repeat buz
    I don't mind at all if people do their own small jobs...let's face it, we are expensive.
    It's just when someone makes the unconscious decision they are as good as a plumber and go ahead and tackle a job they shouldn't...like gas fixtures or modifying a waste main that could create a hazard or unsanitary condition for themselves or nearby residences it becomes a problem.

    Tony, I've had the distinct displeasure of working for at least one of those hacks.
    I'd walk onto a job already "done" by one of his kids with things like closet flanges sticking up out of the floor several inches, not tacked down and already glued leaving me with the option of pushing it down and setting a back pitch, or getting a lecture for taking so long when I break out my id cutter and redo it right, gas that wouldn't hold a test, brass angle stops on one side with chrome on the other.
    When I'd bring this to the owners attention he'd ask "Why isn't this job done?"

    He was afraid of the competition and lowballed to ensure he'd get the job...then kept his payroll down by hiring self proclaimed "plumbers" at lower rates to compensate...a viscious cycle. I left within a month, that was my decision to go self employed.
    I DESPISE purple primer!
    Under a finish Kitchem sink?!?...NOPE!

    Mark, I know of an inspector that waited outside a local HD and would ask anyone with plumbing items "Do you have a license?"
    Thats a bit rediculous, and it got him nowhere, except a bad reputation.
    HD themselves were subjected to legal action for offering instructional classes on installing water heaters...they were fined, they stopped.

    Most of what I see here as far as tutorials are relatively mundane...toilet repairs, sink strainer/tailpiece replacements, faucet repair...etc.

    I only posted this in reply to one individual, whom I quoted on my first post, that decided to send me a private message a few days ago...and I just figured out how to find them last night. (yup...slow here)
    This topic can and will likely acquire some negative response, many from unlicensed individuals attempting to defend or rationalize their decision to go the DIY route on plumbing.
    Hopefully this topic will arouse a more constructive discussion, illuminating the line between what to do, and not to do on your own....hopefully.
    I won't bite on any insult, my reasoning is simple...iwhen I see it in the news that a homeowner decided to modify his own heating, install his own water heater and loses a child as a result, I wonder what he must feel like.
    again....flappers, YES...Boilers, NO!

  6. #6

    Thumbs down

    I should also mention that just because a job is permitted means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Zip, zilch, nada.

    If anyone actually thinks the permits are about safety... well I've got both a bridge in Brooklyn and waterfront property in Kansas for sale. The primary purpose of permits is so governments can get inside your home or business and assess you for the improvements your filing for. You can have two identical buildings side by side, with identical improvements, one that was permitted and the other that was not. Guess who's paying more property taxes... a lot more.

    Here in NYC, you can't do anything short of changing a lightbulb or washer without a professional license and permit. But what good is any of it? If you get red tagged, we have this "self-certification" program, which basically involves checking a box that says "corrected" and mailing it in... no further inspection EVER follows. Many of the local papers here have highlighted the abuses of this process by unscrupulous contractors and builders, so the question remains what is the purpose of permits if other than revenue?

    As the famous quote goes, the nine most terrifying words in the English language are, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help."

  7. #7
    Licensed Grump GrumpyPlumber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joe in queens
    I should also mention that just because a job is permitted means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Zip, zilch, nada.

    If anyone actually thinks the permits are about safety... well I've got both a bridge in Brooklyn and waterfront property in Kansas for sale. The primary purpose of permits is so governments can get inside your home or business and assess you for the improvements your filing for. You can have two identical buildings side by side, with identical improvements, one that was permitted and the other that was not. Guess who's paying more property taxes... a lot more.

    Here in NYC, you can't do anything short of changing a lightbulb or washer without a professional license and permit. But what good is any of it? If you get red tagged, we have this "self-certification" program, which basically involves checking a box that says "corrected" and mailing it in... no further inspection EVER follows. Many of the local papers here have highlighted the abuses of this process by unscrupulous contractors and builders, so the question remains what is the purpose of permits if other than revenue?

    As the famous quote goes, the nine most terrifying words in the English language are, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help."
    Actually, say you install a water heater, it's defective and burns the wall (I'll spare the whole house dramatization for once)...first thing your liability insurance is gonna want to see is the permit.

  8. #8

    Thumbs down

    The insurance company can ask for whatever they want, but permits or licenses have absolutely NO bearing on liability coverage whatsoever. An insurance company can try all they want to deny coverage on that basis, but legally, they will never prevail. Having a license or pulling a permit has absolutely no legal bearing on negligence.

    Unless the water heater in your example was purposely installed so that the house would burn down (arson), the insurance company is stuck writing the check.

    It's very easy to put this legal standard to the test too: If you negligently installed the water heater in your example as a licensed plumber, pulled a permit, and had the job signed off by the AHJ and the house burned down, would you or the insurance company have a course of action against the AHJ or municipality? Of course not, you're the one who'll be on hook exclusively. You can sqeal all you want that it was "inspected" and "approved" but you'd lose.

    It's the same if you get into automobile collision with an unlicensed driver. If you ran a red light and were hit by an unlicensed driver, you'd have absolutely no defense that the other driver wasn't licensed. Yes, the driver could be ticketed for unlicensed operation, but it has no bearing on liability whatsoever. Having a license simply means you're "licensed".

  9. #9
    Jack of all trades frenchie's Avatar
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    Default

    No offense, Joe, but I'd check my facts if I was you. Are you sure that permit & license has no bearing on liability? I'm not, but I do know if affects other things.

    Like, for example: if I were to do plumbing work for you, and you decide not to pay me? Being unlicensed means that I can't sue you - in fact, I have absolutely no legal recourse - because the work was illegal. It's the same principle that prevent a drug dealer from sueing his customers for non-payment; the fact that the work itself was illegal, trumps everything else.

    I'm pretty sure that the insurance company could argue that unpermitted work done by an unlicensed individual is, by definition, negligence. And win.

  10. #10
    Licensed Grump GrumpyPlumber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frenchie
    No offense, Joe, but I'd check my facts if I was you. Are you sure that permit & license has no bearing on liability? I'm not, but I do know if affects other things.

    Like, for example: if I were to do plumbing work for you, and you decide not to pay me? Being unlicensed means that I can't sue you - in fact, I have absolutely no legal recourse - because the work was illegal. It's the same principle that prevent a drug dealer from sueing his customers for non-payment; the fact that the work itself was illegal, trumps everything else.

    I'm pretty sure that the insurance company could argue that unpermitted work done by an unlicensed individual is, by definition, negligence. And win.
    Frenchie...to add, a house's occupancy can be suspended when local authorities deem it unsafe.
    I actually considered bidding on one this past year, but don't have the time to play "Flip that house".
    In your example...though, you have to really "P" someone off to get that far.
    I've been to jobs where the town has put a "Stop work order" on the house to give estimates for the new owner/action winner, even did a remodel on one last fall.
    A simple water heater won't likely result in this, but if a certain homeowner has done extensive work without license, has severe damage as a result of illegal work, or continues to disregard local code/law, I've seen the home condemned.
    If anyone doubts this...go to the source...make an anonymous call to your own town/city hall.
    Geesh...what an ugly topic.
    "The biggest regrets we have in life are the chances we never took."

  11. #11

    Cool

    No offense taken... but my facts are correct. But it seems we're confusing issues here.

    The instant discussion is whether is a fire loss would be covered by unlicensed or unpermitted work. The answer is yes. Unless it's arson the insurance company must pay. I have yet to see an insurance policy have an exclusion for unlicensed or unpermitted work.

    Payment for unlicensed or unpermitted work is an entirely different issue. In some states, you can collect for unlicensed and unpermitted work - and may even avail yourself to filing a mechanics lien. In many states and in my area, NYC, the administrative code doesn't allow for relief for unlicensed or unpermitted work.

    It should be noted, however, that this legal theory does not hold true for all "illegal" activities so to speak. Illegal apartments are a prime example. A tenant cannot use a lack of a CO or any other "illegal occupancy" as a defense for failing to pay rent, and a landlord can prevail in collecting rent on "illegal" apartments with ease. I guess the real estate lobby is more powerful than the trades lobby.

    In addition, Grumpy is also right about the remedies available to governments regarding unlicensed, unpermitted work. Of course they can deny a CO, impose fines and penalties, and even condemn a building depending on local law. But again, none of this can absolve an insurance company in paying for a covered loss.

    I always thought the same too on this issue, until I was corrected by an insurance broker, underwriter, and a few attorneys. If anyone can provide some specific case law to refute this, I'm all eyes and ears.

  12. #12
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by joe in queens
    I have yet to see an insurance policy have an exclusion for unlicensed or unpermitted work.
    I agree but this does not stop the insurance company from suing the person that did the un-permitted work. This is a common occurrence

  13. #13
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default grumpy

    You need to lighten up a little. As Spiro Agnew said, you are a "nattering nabob of negativity". And your treatises are so lengthy that no one wants to wade through them.

  14. #14
    Master Plumber Dunbar Plumbing's Avatar
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    I tried that advice yesterday for the first time hj on heating the bonnet nut on a 600 series delta.

    The lady watched me the whole time and was freaking out when the camber caught on fire dripping onto a cloth on the tub spout. Low and behold it came off, completely destroyed the nut as far as finish goes but I had a new one to put back. The ball was plastic too; if there wasn't calcium buildup inside the body of that faucet......

    I would of had a melted plastic nightmare trying to remove all that.


    Rebuilt it, all new parts and still leaked. I told her I could crank the camber adjustment ring tighter but the handle would be hard to turn.....and I told her having 93+ pounds of water pressure at 1 o'clock in the afternoon......there needs to be a leak. Her water pressure is way too high and couldn't get them to commit to a PRV/EXP tank. Water service is in a crawl space so I'm not too crazy about doing a job like that.
    Read what the end of this sentence means.

  15. #15

    Default

    Have yet to meet a plumber on this forum who hasn't at least once exhibited a little nabobbiness. It's par for the course, IMHO. Experience + encountering the same issues over and over again + encountering some idiot customers over and over again leads to a certain amount of (earned) arrogance. Everyone has it in their own industry.

    Homeowners are ALWAYS going to try to DIY. Thank Heaven for this forum and resources like it that educate us to be a little smarter. Stopping the current is probably more futile then just trying to steer the boat better.
    (important note: I'm not a pro)

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