Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 57 seconds

Bob Hinkle

Bob Hinkle

I love to play “stump the plumber”.  There are a gazillion things that have been made over the years for solving plumbing problems. My specialty is working on vintage homes and we see some real Rube Goldberg esk contraptions in some homes. In some of the homes, indoor plumbing was a newfangled thing.

The odds of getting a straight answer from anyone other than an old timer, are poor at best.  I have gotten some real doozies from a big box “helper guy, sales clerk, team member, or associate.” Lord knows they want to help, they just can’t bring themselves to say “Hell if I know?” which leads to all sorts of misinformation. A situation much like in Top Gun when Maverick is told that his “Ego is writing checks his body can’t cash!” I say, “Forgive them, for they know not what they speak of.”

The trick to avoid this conundrum is to have a close friend or a relative that is a plumber. I am blessed with a father-in-law who is retired and a licensed plumber all of his working life.  He has “seen it all “Bob says, “Any day I can replace an old toilet or a gate valve with a ball valve is a good day.” The way to know that you are dealing with a real plumber is to ask them the 4 plumbing rules that all plumbers worth a hoot know the answer to.

The Unfortunate Bicycle Accident

This knowledge came in handy once when I was assisting an intoxicated woman that had crashed on her bicycle. She had some pretty significant road rash but was otherwise OK.  We were joking about how weird it was that most accidents happen within several miles from home.

While I was loading her bicycle into the ambulance to give her a lift home, I asked what she did for a living. “I’m a plumber” she said with some pace. “Oh Bull Shit!” I shot back, “If you’re a plumber, then what are the 4 rules that only a plumber would know?” In no particular order she proceeded to rattle them off.

The 4 Rules:

  1. Shit goes down hill.
  2. Hot on the left, cold on the right.
  3. Payday is Friday.
  4. Wash your hands before lunch.

“Wow, I’ll be damned!” I said, “You are a plumber.” We had a good laugh, and I got her home safely. I left her nursing her wounds with a stern scolding about wearing a helmet when she rides, and drinking alcohol in moderation.

Plumbing Parts

Plumbing Parts

Plumbing Parts

Plumbing Parts is the place in town that has just about every obscure part there is. They also have the knowledge to identify things from across the room. Often a, “I haven’t seen one of those in years, how many do you want” or “that’s a Korean piece of crap, replace it!” is just what I needed to hear. You know me, without proper guidance, I’d spend the entire day fixing the darn thing, rather than replace it.

I also have had to use the internet occasionally to replace an obscure part from an obsolete fixture. In one case the client did not want to replace the shower valve but the cartridge was shot. thankfully it was just a few clicks away.

As we evolve, plumbing faucets and valves are becoming more high tech with motion sensors and touch sensors.  I suppose it will make it tough to keep up but in the meantime between my sources we seem to have everything covered so far.

Integrity Plumbing

My plumbing subcontractor at Integrity Plumbing says that they aren’t much appreciated until the darn system fails. Dave & Don agree that their profession is a noble one. In fact Albert Einstein wrote in a journal, if he had to do it all over again, he would like to be a plumber.

The guys come across problems that stem from worn out parts from the old days and they are more likely to replace rather than fix stuff because it is too time consuming. They are big advocates of the supply houses rather than the big box stores because they are certain that there is a quality difference. In closing, Dave added a 5th rule to the list, “Don’t bite your fingernails!”

Bonus Round Questions

  1. Who has another rule of plumbing?
  2. Do you have a favorite story that relates to plumbing to share?

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