I received the following e-mail from an acquaintance that shall remain nameless:
Knowing that when it comes to actually doing things around the house, I have no mechanical skills, would you suggest that I attempt changing the cartridge in my old Moen single-lever bathroom faucet, which is dripping steadily? My wife and daughters are questioning my manhood! Help!
The neighborhood presented an idyllic scene: well manicured lawns, flowerbeds, and neatly trimmed shrubs, giving each three-bedroom home a welcome appeal. Right smack in the middle of this scene, the destination for a geothermal estimate appeared as I rounded the curved roadway: a case of arrested development!
I thought readers might enjoy exploring the issues raised in a recent e-mail. At first glance, it seems like a fairly simple straight-forward exercise, until you realize the variables and pitfalls are numerous and that the math doesn’t support the running-out-of-hot-water issue.
What's in the tank? This is a rhetorical question given the haphazard tangle of PVC drainage lines leading to the 18-in. opening on top of the 1,000-gal. poly tank. A single 1-in. black well-water pipe led back out of the opening to a makeshift CPVC manifold suspended in place by nylon rope. An expansion tank with a pump switch was nestled between floor joists. Several lines snaked off to serve the home’s toilets and an anti-freeeze faucet. The smell was overwhelming in the crowded basement addition (why it was possible to have such a large tank indoors).
With energy use being closely monitored and judged for the Solar Decathlon competition, the entire home’s systems-package must be one that enhances efficiency while still maintaining comfort and required dehumidification.
A quick call to our agent with copies of the letters from the agencies strongly suggesting no repairs are made were included. Hours later, we had an official reply: we would likely be covered if at some point in the future, any problems arose, but that would not prevent a lawsuit being filed based upon our having ignored the warnings while performing repairs instead of replacements. Their advise: repairing flooded appliances exposes us to increased exposure to liability and they strongly urged we replace or walk away from the work.
Checking an electric water heater for leaks: unless the tank itself has a large enough pin-hole to create a clearly audible “here-I-am” under the jacket, you need to poke and probe for the answer. It's a straight-forward logical series of steps.
Returning from the overly-warmed cavernous mechanical room, I was once again invited to join my new old friends at the kitchen table. One option always suggested is solar thermal (reminder: it’s not my money), which was rejected due to the up-front costs.
“Help — our water heater is leaking and we need an estimate for a new one.”
In addition, a few questions during the phone call revealed they would be interested in pricing for a new furnace and central air conditioning. This is a new potential customer who was referred by a friend of theirs who is a customer — the best kind of introduction.
CONTRACTOR magazine staff started to browse through old magazine issues of The Contractor, Plumbing and Heating Business magazine, and The Ladle, The Business Journal for Master Plumbers and Heating Contractors of New York State. Browse vintage ads from some of the industry's current plumbing manufacturers.