From Loss of Fees to Loss of Life: The Top Plumber Stories of 2015

As the New Year approaches, we count down some of the top stories on plumbermag.com.
From Loss of Fees to Loss of Life: The Top Plumber Stories of 2015

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Here’s a look back at 2015:

10. Free or Fee: Do You Charge for Video Inspections?

It might seem bad business to give away a valuable service. But for your customers, a free video inspection lets them see exactly what’s happening inside their sewer, especially when lines are blocked and waste is backing up.

9. Root Cutting Secrets for Master Plumbers

Each root cutting job requires a unique approach and a variety of tools. David Bradford, product manager at Shamrock Pipe Tools, recommends saws and cutters as the first plan of attack. Begin with a blade that’s slightly smaller than the diameter of the pipe to get past offsets and deflections, he says.

8. Plumbers vs. Technicians: The Slow Decline of the Tradesman

Is the apprenticeship model still the best way to build your business? Anja Smith, managing partner of All Clear Plumbing in Greenville, South Carolina, says “yes.” A plumber who is licensed and dedicated to the craft is going to have a greater depth of understanding, she says.

7. Did Code Violation Lead to Death of Master Plumber?

We might never know the series of events that led up to the death of a Massachusetts plumber who died from burns sustained in a house explosion. The state fire marshal said the plumber did not vent the propane line he was purging to the outside as required by code, but might there have been other contributing factors?

6. Potential Plumbing Problems Lurking in Walls

Jeff Gretich of Plumb Crazy Plumbers in St. Petersburg, Florida, used to install CPVC piping in homes. But when too many jobs started requiring follow-up visits, he decided to find an alternative. Gretich is not alone. Plumbers say they prefer copper or PEX to CPVC, which can become brittle and break over time.

5. Unshored Trench Claims Life of Pennsylvania Plumber

Jacob Casher, 21, was preparing to leave for the day when he spotted a shovel left in the 10- to 11-foot hole in which he was working. Despite warnings from his boss and co-workers, Casher went back to retrieve the tool, only to have the unshored trench cave in around him.

4. Untrained Plumber’s First Day Almost Ends in Tragedy

David Hidalgo’s first day on the job nearly proved to be his last after receiving a text from his boss to “break a pipe.” Left alone at a customer’s home, Hidalgo was told to dig down to the sewer line when he spotted what proved to be a gas pipe and was told to “grab a jackhammer and break it.”

3. Cool Plumber Trucks

Mark Mikula, owner/president of Advanced Plumbing Concepts in Grand Haven, Michigan, proved a hit with readers as he and his super-sharp 2014 Ford E250 Super Duty battled for braggin’ rights among Plumbers Alert Truck of the Year entrants.

2. Plumber Who Nearly Lost His Life Wasn’t Alone

Turns out an Oregon plumber who came close to losing his life wasn’t the only one to receive a text to “break a pipe.” Three other former employees of Rooter Rite Plumbing & Drain Cleaning Services said they received similar messages. The pipe the plumber was told to break later proved to be a gas line.

1. Master Plumber Dies from Burns in Home Explosion

Tragically, Massachusetts master plumber Roger Charpentier Jr. died from burns when the pilot light on a hot water heater ignited fumes from a propane line he was purging. The explosion lifted the house 6 to 12 inches off the foundation.



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