Plumbers Need to Think ‘Out of the Box’

Easy-install products can save time and money without compromising quality.
Plumbers Need to Think ‘Out of the Box’
Ed Del Grande

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“Out-of-the-box” plumbing fixtures are ready to go when you need them.

It’s not your imagination; many plumbing fixture manufacturers are designing products that are much easier to install than the models of decades past. When I noticed this trend starting up years ago, I welcomed the changes with open arms. However, not all of my fellow plumbers shared in my excitement. Some plumbers I knew were convinced the “easier-to-install” fixtures were being designed primarily for the growing DIY home improvement market.

Back then, many plumbers looked at a homeowner doing a small plumbing repair as a potential threat to our industry. The notion of plumbing products suddenly becoming easier to install did not sit well with them. The bottom line was some plumbers stayed away from these newly designed fixtures because they thought of them as “amateur” products. Call it pride, frustration or fear of change, either way they stayed with the standard-type fixtures.

Today, times are changing. Overhead plumbing business costs have jumped sky high and saving minutes on every job can make a big difference. With that said, easy-install plumbing products should be the go-to choice. If fixture quality and fixture performance is not compromised, it makes sense for professional plumbers to save time and money by installing ready-to-go fixtures — especially for service plumbers.

With all that said, here are three of my favorite easier-to-install plumbing fixtures that I have worked with in recent years:

  1. Multipiece “tub-to-shower stall” enclosures with no caulk seams and offset shower base drain. – Before these units, my standard tub-to-shower conversion choice was a custom tile job with a hand-built copper base pan. Needless to say, this was not an easy-to-install shower job and I needed to call in subcontractors as well. Compare that to these new composite multipiece shower enclosures that simply snap together with no caulking needed. Plus, the offset shower drain base easily adapts to the existing plumbing.
  2. Quick-install two-piece toilet tank mounting system. – Recent changes with tank-to-bowl connections on some two-piece toilets have cut install time and reduced callbacks. I have worked with the newer dry-locking models that have eliminated tank bolts going through the toilet tank itself. An exposed flange at the base of the tank locks the bolts in place. The tank with the mounted bolts is then placed on the bowl connections and all you need to do is tighten the nuts and washers to the bolts. Also, with the elimination of tank bolt holes, callbacks for loose tank bolt leaks are avoided.
  3. Ready-to-go pull-out or pull-down spray kitchen faucets. – High-end kitchen faucets are now available and basically ready to go right out of the box. Three changes have made this possible. First, longer flex supply lines are now factory-installed to the faucet. In most cases these supply lines should be able to reach the existing stop valves under the sink. Second, the new faucets mount with an easy install locking flange. By hand-spinning the flange in place, all you need to do after that is tighten two screws on either side of the flange to securely mount the faucet. Finally, the pull-out or down-spray head hose has a snap-in connection to the faucet body, and you are ready to go.

Easier-to-install plumbing fixtures can also cut down on job stress for the installer. So, do yourself and your business a favor by taking advantage of new plumbing fixture innovations.

For a companion video to the article please visit my website at eddelgrande.com or click on the video below:

About the Author: Ed Del Grande is a three-time master plumber, GBCI LEED green associate and contractor with licenses in pipe fitting, fire protection and plumbing. He grew up in a family-owned plumbing business and has 30-plus years of construction experience.

A self-employed contractor and professional comedian, he combined his performing and construction talents to become a pioneer in home-improvement television. Starting on HGTV with shows such as Dream Builders and The Fix, Del Grande helped build the DIY Network and HGTVpro.com with shows such as Warehouse Warriors and Ed The Plumber



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