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Thread: question for plumbers more experienced than me

  1. #1

    Default question for plumbers more experienced than me

    got a call today on a townhouse on a slab that has a leak in the supply.I havent been out there yet because the union finally put me back to work after 16 month layoff,but anyways i suspect it's leaking where the water supply enters the house at the garage as thats where the h.o said there is standing water,so im thinking i will drain the water heater and kill the power to it(its electric) already have ms utiltity on the way to mark for stuff in the ground,and then hook my compressor to the closest fixture and pump it up to about 50-60 psi and look for the air bubbles escaping the ground outside to tell me where to start digging or grab the old stethescope and start listening for the air leak under the slab.I'm thinking maybe 500$ if its outside the slab and just involves a little diiging to get at it or at least a grand if i have to break out the chopsaw and jackhammer.Looking for some advice from plumbers more experienced than i on better ways possibly to find this leak and what i should reasonably charge( Im in virginia beach area)????thanks for anyones input.

    steelers fan

  2. #2
    TROJAN WORLDWIDE SALES RP MACPLUMB 777's Avatar
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    #1 if the leak is outside slab your way is as good as any ! !

    But big big But if under slab that water could travel for many feet before you see it and any bubbles rising !

    #2 if water is any way coming up into the house where it can cause property damage then he should let HO's insurance in on it
    they will pay a leak locate co. To locate leak and pinpoint it for you and give you a better ideal how to bid repair !

    And or reroute water pipe overhead to avoid slab

    MACPLUMB 777

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  3. #3
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    Good point about the insurance.
    This is going to cost plenty, and that's why you have homeowners insurance.

    They wont pay for the simple little patch on the pipe when you find it, but they pay for every thing else less deductible.
    Cleanup, drywall, flooring and your plumbing beyond the patch.
    If the pipes need moving, that will be covered.

    But slabs, I would alway get a pipe locater, and even they have missed by twenty feet in an apartment for me.
    Me and my journeyman had a good laugh about that.
    The contractor thought it was a plumbing problem, you know, a bad joint under slab.
    But you don't put joints under slab.
    He was telling the renters that they were going to stay in a nice hotel, and eat out at great restaurants.
    And then we found the problem, someone had made a PICK hole in the copper tubing.
    It wasn't a plumbing problem at all.

    Then the contractor realized that he was paying for everything, not the plumbers.

  4. #4
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Here, if the leak is near where the pipe enters the house it is usually a cracked PVC male adapter into a female copper adapter. IF it is outside the building the insurance will not pay anything. Unless I can easily and quickly pinpoint the source of the leak, I always call a leak locator to do it for me, rather than waste my time and the customer's money.

  5. #5

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    Thanks guys for your response.Not having been out there yet i guess im just in the guessing game and ill have to wait and see. A lot of older townhomes here have pb for the supply,i figure all i can can do for that short of a repipe is a sharkbite(not my favorite as im not fully sold on em yet) but what else can you can do with it really?hopefully its copper so I can do a proper repair.BTW do my prices sound reasonable?Im more of a new construction plumber working for the union so bidding jobs certainly isnt my strong point.Thanks again for you guys advice and help.

  6. #6
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    If the union finds out you are doing it, you won't have to worry about it. They will either eject you from the union, or hit you with a stiff fine. As far as the price, you are MOONLIGHTING so you should be able to undercut ALL legitimate contractors and still make a profit.

  7. #7

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    Thanks HJ for your reply.The guys at my local know I'm doing work on the side and that's no problem here just trying to make a living and keep current on my child support and pay the bills.I do mostly residential now so I'm not cutting into the unions profits as it's all commercial and industrial so it's all good, but my point is being fairly new in the plumbing trade is that I dont want to overcharge the h.o nor do i want to undercharge and go broke so here i am asking for advice from plumbers who have been around the block many more times than I have and still come out with a decent profit (not trying to get rich or anything but I don't wanna go broke fixing someones else's nightmare either).As far as the union go's here in VA our U.A is fairly weak compared to other parts of the country like chicago,N.Y.,etc,etc,buts its all good union trained union for life just trying to fill in the blanks till better economic times.In fact the apprenticeship coordinator has kicked me a couple jobs for older retired union members too old to do the work for them self so that's no problem.Question for you ? does your local actually dabble in residential? not trying to be funny just wondering, as our local is pretty much commercial and industrial.As far as the "moonlighting" that's not really my aim I'm just trying to survive right now in some pretty tough economic times and the last thing I want to do is undercut the next guy to a point where i drive down the price of another licensed plumber to the point where he or she cant survive.I have invested roughly 7 years in my apprenticeship and I know I'm not nearly as experinced as a lot of you other plumbers/pipefitter's
    and that's exactly why I am on here asking for you guy's advice.Thanks Hj and TERRY and everyone else for your help and advice. have a good one.
    redskins suck.
    OOPs I mean steelers fan

  8. #8

    Default steelers fan

    and dallas sucks even more

  9. #9
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    You have a more "lenient" union than we have here, or else they do not want you out of the state like the one here felt about me.

  10. #10
    DIY Junior Member jc60618's Avatar
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    Here in Chicago if the union catches you doing a side job you get fined $500 dollars. But you only pay half of it in order to get reinstated, its rare when somebody get kicked out.

  11. #11

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    Thats really cool for me to learn about the rules that are carried out by different locals around the country.I guess it all depends on the job market you"re in and I can definately appreciate that.That is exactly why I am on boards like this and plumbingzone,ridgid forums and the like trying to learn all I can about our trade,so I really appreciate all of you guy's input.Work is pretty slow here HJ so I have to do what I gotta do to make ends meet and it"s a good idea for me to talk with with other plumbers across the country to try and make suree Im doing a quality job for my customers and at the same time not undercutting the next guy to the point that he or she cant make a living,Of course I don't want to price myself out of the market either and like any buisness owner I cant give it away for free. I've gotta make a profit,so here I am asking the pro"s for advice for a newb.It's all good I really appreciate your concern but i"ve gotta live and child support don't quit coming.As far as out of the state work I'm a little shy on my work hours to get my journeymans, I got all my schooling behind me cept for elective classes,which i'm gonna take obviously but I cant travel legally yet cuz i dont have my card yet.whats funny is I'm working on a property for a H,O and I'm talking/dealing with her father on it through a retired navy seal turned contractor and as it turns out the H.O.'s father and a home inspector checking out the job on their behalf are both retired local union members and until today I did not know this tho I've been working for them for about a month.It's a small world after all or sum shiot like that.Btw whats the D.B. scale out in arizone?I could use a vacation ,are they hiring? Ill just move for the summer.J.K. thanks 4 your help Jeff.

  12. #12
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    I guess I AM one of the rare ones, possibly because I told the local here what they could do with their fine, and they reported it to the United Association, which then reported it to U.A. 130, and when I told them I would not pay that fine to them either, we parted ways. THEN the local union here pulled out all the stops and tried to run me out of the state using every legal maneuver they could. I went through two years of intimidation before they had to give up.

  13. #13

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    Sorry to hear of your parting with the U.A. HJ ,.I know as well as you it's a great institution but yes it can be rife with a lot of politics,but judging from your post on here I think I can say you've done well for yourself despite your departure from the U.A..I'm not one of those plumbing snobs who looks down on non-union shops and cries" rat bastard",in fact my family is friends with a local plumbing contractor who was union trained and then went out on his own non-union but takes care of his guys like they are family and to be honest I don't know anyone who can say a bad thing about the guy.I'll put a plug for him here if it's allowed on here,the name of the company is D.E. Kirby out of norfolk Va .I know the union can be funny at times,hence my spending 7 years doing a 5 year program ,but it"s all good ,nothing ventured nothing gained.BTW can you or terry or any members of plumbingzone recomend any any literature helping me deal with pricing ?I'm trying to get to a point where I'm making a respectable profit and not undercut the next guy/girl out there and lower our trade to handyhacks and jose's doing our work nearly for free,yet not beating the H.O in the head.I'd like to make a decent living out of my trade but not trying to buttrape anyone at the same time.I'm thinking a combination of flatrate and T&M kinda calculated for the amount of time I know it's gonna take my slow moving butt to do the same job that a guy with 20 more years experience and practice than me to do the same job and warrantee my work?

  14. #14

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    I had a simular problem and used HMS Plumbing in Manassas VA. They were professional, fast and affordable compare to others in the area.

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