NBC’s Today Show Investigates Plumbers

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Recently NBC’s Today Show did a hidden camera setup to catch unscrupulous plumbers.  They set up a situation where a female homeowner would call a plumber about a leaking hot water heater.  The set-up was that they had opened the drain valve to allow a small drip – after they had 3 plumbers inspect it, including Pete Voros, a master plumber who is chairman of the board of examiners for master plumbers for the state of New Jersey and declare it in good working order.  While the results were surprising –  the set-up was also a little strange.

I’ve always understood that any service person who is called for a piece of equipment is liable for their work if they touch it.  They took issue with one of the plumbers saying that he wanted to drain it and replace the valve.  If I was able to tighten a valve on a water heater to stop a leak – I may decide that I would want to replace the valve also.  It has already leaked once, and while I’m not a master plumber, I would think that it may fail again, and cause more damage.  The program said that he was trying to take advantage of the homeowner.

While I don’t agree with everything the story says, they did have one piece of great advice.  “Ask friends for a recommendation before you find yourself in the middle of an emergency and quickly searching for a plumber.”  That sounds like something to talk to your best customers about.

What do you think about the story?

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Joe Sainz (Google+) is a union carpenter with experience in concrete construction, landscaping, carpentry and electrical mechanics. He currently works at Bosch Power Tools... Read more

4 comments on “NBC’s Today Show Investigates Plumbers

  1. Brian

    I think that is a shame that NBC would waste peoples time like this. If I get a call regarding any issue, that is time out of my day that I will not get back. If this was a new client, depending on how far from me this was, I would charge a service call fee.

  2. Keith

    While I understand Brian’s reply above about time for a fix where i only needed to turn the valve to stop the drip, I would have let the paiment slide. Meanining I wouldn’t ask for one.
    But, on the other hand, about the story. It’s true there are tons of service people out there that are honest & provide a service that is good & true. There are always a few bad apples out there that do a lousey job & bring us all down. Sorry to say, that’s just the way it is.

  3. Sergey

    As always, there are many ways to look at this issue. On one hand, this is a simple fix. On the other hand, the plumber is liable for anything that he would touch. I tend to side with the plumber, I would replace the valve as well.

  4. Keith

    Sergey, so you would change the valve & charge 360 bucks to do it!! Zowiee, that’s a hell of a lot of cash just to shut off the water, drain the tank, remove the valve & re-install a new valve & refill the tank. Just what does a new boiler drain cost these days? 360 Bucks???
    No, in my case, looking at the valve I would just shut it off. If I wondered if it was leaking & wanted to see if it needed changed. I would screw a drain hose on it, run the hose to sewer & open the valve to flush the tank a bit. Shut the valve, unscrew the hose & make sure it didn’t leak again. Once I saw that it didn’t, off I would go. Satisfied that the valve was in good working condition. And, satisfied that the home-owner’s hot water tank was ok.
    Price for my time, “0” dollars. Because it would have been my idea to make sure the valve was good when I flushed it a bit. Giving me peace of mind!!

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