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Old 02-02-2020, 01:31 PM   #1
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Default Repair or replace?

I occasionally work with an older guy who I respect the hell out of. He seems to enjoy teaching me little tricks like replacing a washer in a toilet fill valve, or cleaning the contacts in a well tank pressure switch.

I am truly grateful for his advice, and am glad to have that knowledge to let me get someone up and running in a pinch, but he prides himself on doing those simple little repairs as a final solution. Now I hate planned obsolescence as much as anyone, but in cases like these I like to replace instead of repair, for several reasons. First, I feel as if the units have had enough use to be causing a small component failure, then something else is bound to go wrong with it in due time, so why not just give them a new unit? Second, we charge a minimum parts fee of $25, no matter what we use, and a minimum one hour of time for all service calls. For things like the toilet valve, both the parts and time are more than covered even if replacing it, so why not give them a new one? If it were my house, that is what I would do, so why wouldn't I offer the same consideration to my customers? When they do ask me what I would do, I tell them, but I also tell them for bigger jobs that if it were my house I am not paying myself for labor, so they should take that into consideration. That honesty has been well received.

I have replaced water heater valves, Tstats and elements on units that were still within or just over the warrantee period, but in older units for those few customers who know what the problem is and request a repair, I do all I can to talk them out of it. It costs them more money to replace in the long run, and 2 service calls for the company, but I feel that recommending replacement is the better, and right thing to do when a repair is not going to be the best long term solution, even if it is cheaper and easier for now.

What say you?
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Old 02-02-2020, 03:27 PM   #2
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I feel the customer is really the key to this. I have customers who have more money than they can spend and customers who contact me to find out how much they need to save/barrow before service. Replace vs repair, like you said is mostly about use. I’ll replace an element in a 10 year old heater but 20 years I try to replace.

Last weekend I got a call from a contractor who got my number from a plumber I know about his friends main. Called his friend, told him the price and said he’d have to wait for his SS check. I told him that I’d rather get him up and running and worry about payment later. He ended up borrowing the money and I was paid.

If someone can’t afford a replacement and a repair will get them by for a while, then a repair is what happens.
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Old 02-02-2020, 04:57 PM   #3
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I feel the customer is really the key to this. I have customers who have more money than they can spend and customers who contact me to find out how much they need to save/barrow before service. Replace vs repair, like you said is mostly about use. I’ll replace an element in a 10 year old heater but 20 years I try to replace.

Last weekend I got a call from a contractor who got my number from a plumber I know about his friends main. Called his friend, told him the price and said he’d have to wait for his SS check. I told him that I’d rather get him up and running and worry about payment later. He ended up borrowing the money and I was paid.

If someone can’t afford a replacement and a repair will get them by for a while, then a repair is what happens.
I've done favours like that for people when you know they are broke and they cant pay you right away.. if they are good people you dont have to worry about the money you'll get it.. sometimes you gotta work with people.

Last week did one for a friend of my mother in laws.. her kitchen line plugged for 2 months... just said I dont have money to fix it.. I said dont worry about the money we will fix it... she called me up today and said I've got something for you come over..

Went over she had special European cookies that are so good you gain 10lbs looking at them and a envelope with more money than I usual ask for on those calls...

If it's a property management company and money isn't usual a problem... replace it..unless if it's been in service for a short amount of time...

If it's a home owner I'd just say it's up to you this ... is looking old and could use to be replaced.. if we clean it up or whatever and it works it could last another week or it could last 10 years.. see what they say.. if you got one on truck usually they are willing to go for it..

If not then just say that if it goes you'll gladly come out and replace it.. at that point I give them a quote and that's that..

It also depends on what it is and how critical the part is aswell.. I've had a boiler go out gas valves bad... special zero govenor gas valve I managed to get it working again... told them hey you got hot water now.. this part is bad, and your going to need to change it no matter what.. but if it was corrosion on contacts I'd clean it well and put it back into service... depends on circumstances..
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Old 02-02-2020, 05:15 PM   #4
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Yep. Lots of times it’s time that matters most. I’ve made tons of temporary repairs simply because we just don’t have the time. Get it up and going and schedule the real repair later. This is why I like shark bites so much. Yeah, I do consider them hack materials, but they are life savers when time is important.

When it comes to drains, the longer you wait the harder and more involved the blockage becomes. I use that line all the time! It’s really a sales tactic. The guy I mentioned... he insisted on getting my card and my master’s. Everyone he knows who has a plumbing issue will get our numbers.
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Old 02-02-2020, 06:25 PM   #5
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hmmm. you have to look at the big picture....as an owner I have to make money to stay in business and as much as you guys like to do charity work for those that have little or no money and get that warm fuzzy feeling you did a good deed that day is fine, but too much charity and your the one with little or no money..
I like to replace, you make more money and the chance you will be back fixing your repair for FREE is alot less..
I hate to do a temporary fix as many people dont call you back for the final money making work...not all but many do, as they think , hell its working now ill wait till it breaks again...
I try to explain to people my labor to take apart, trouble shoot and go find parts will be more cost than just replacing with new....most people understand the value to replacing rather than repairing...
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Old 02-02-2020, 10:01 PM   #6
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hmmm. you have to look at the big picture....as an owner I have to make money to stay in business and as much as you guys like to do charity work for those that have little or no money and get that warm fuzzy feeling you did a good deed that day is fine, but too much charity and your the one with little or no money..
I like to replace, you make more money and the chance you will be back fixing your repair for FREE is alot less..
I hate to do a temporary fix as many people dont call you back for the final money making work...not all but many do, as they think , hell its working now ill wait till it breaks again...
I try to explain to people my labor to take apart, trouble shoot and go find parts will be more cost than just replacing with new....most people understand the value to replacing rather than repairing...
EXACTLY!! As a one man shop you have to be careful on what you repair, people don't care about you because they still think they were overcharged in the first place they'll blame you that something else broke beside it.

I hate call free backs and having to fix something you tried to repair in the first place. Roman tub faucets, unless it's a cartridge I have in the truck it's an automatic replacement. I'm not foking around with the diverter. Then if you repair something that you know might leak well you better be ready to buy them a new cabinet, a new ceiling and new furniture. Better be ready to lose a lot of time defending yourself when they file a complaint and be ready to be dragged into court.

Let the other guy repair stuff you can decide for yourself to replace.

On another note how many times I've cut out a broken toilet flange then waiting for the customer to have the rotten floor redone and he never calls you back? I don't do that anymore, I leave it fubar or cut it so far away because the tile guy all he has to do is glue a coupling.
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Old 02-02-2020, 10:27 PM   #7
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You two live in different areas. Questions, do you lock your trucks, do you lock your house, how well do you know you’re neighbors, do you see a few people you know in the grocery store every time you go?

If I was back in SoCal I’d do things 100% different for sure! If I was back home in New England, the same. If I were in Canada I’d be planning a revolution... or MOVING.
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Old 02-02-2020, 10:38 PM   #8
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You two live in different areas. Questions, do you lock your trucks, do you lock your house, how well do you know you’re neighbors, do you see a few people you know in the grocery store every time you go?

If I was back in SoCal I’d do things 100% different for sure! If I was back home in New England, the same. If I were in Canada I’d be planning a revolution... or MOVING.
Yes I lock everything, you've seen the locks on my van. I spent about 5K making my house doors secure. Motion sensor in the yard. My propane tank on the BBQ is on a chain you can only cut with a grinder and 3 times already that tank was pulled to the end.

Plan a revolution good luck and make it quick, we are 2 minutes away from having face recognition cameras on the streets.
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Old 02-02-2020, 10:55 PM   #9
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Yes I lock everything, you've seen the locks on my van. I spent about 5K making my house doors secure. Motion sensor in the yard. My propane tank on the BBQ is on a chain you can only cut with a grinder and 3 times already that tank was pulled to the end.

Plan a revolution good luck and make it quick, we are 2 minutes away from having face recognition cameras on the streets.
Look into moving! Good business, I know the customers, the area! Only downside is we have liberals.
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Old 02-02-2020, 11:28 PM   #10
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Look into moving! Good business, I know the customers, the area! Only downside is we have liberals.
Oh o can you see, hmm,hmm Oh O can you see. My poor attempt at the anthem... liberals are liberators no?
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