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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone,

I'm just a lowly service plumber, getting ready to make the jump and go out on my own in the next month or so. I started out as a pre-apprentice in the local union, worked for a contractor for about two years doing mostly new installations, schools, medical buildings, boiler replacements, and lots of process piping at food processing facilities. Most union contractors around here don't touch anything residential. After two years they told me I wasn't going to make much of a plumber and let me go, to this day I don't know if it was because of union politics, I pissed off the wrong shop rocket, or if I really was that stupid (possibly a combination of the three). After that, I went and worked for a real hack job outfit building a wastewater treatment plant. Foreman was a glorified trailer park maintenance supervisor, the owner got most of his crew from a temp service, and it was a really good opportunity for me to learn how things shouldn't be done. After about a year of that, the economy was in the dumper (this was 2009 or so) and I was fed up with that place, so I went to the only company I could get a job at, Roto-Hacker. After hiring, boss told me enthusiastically that it was a good place to work because they had a master plumber, and I could stick around long enough to get my license and then (his exact words) "go work for a GOOD company", which is exactly what I did. I've been with my current employer for about ten years, they treat me great, the owner is a really good guy but it's time for the next chapter in my career.

I got my journey card after about 4 years(6000 hours required in my state), no trade school all on the job learning. Back when I got my card, you had to go down and spend all day taking the test, you had a solder copper in the dirt, and there were only 6-7 test days a year. Now you can test five times a week until you pass, and there's no copper project, you just sit at a computer for a few hours and bang it out. I make sure to lord this over the young journeymen and remind them how much bigger my balls are because of it. I got my masters license a few years ago, and now I'm just waiting to send in for my contractor's license (I need my current employer to write up a letter confirming employment history and have it notarized, and I'm not quite ready to let the cat out of the bag yet).

At my current employer, I do mostly service work, about 50/50 residential/commercial and industrial. Water heaters, leaks, fixture replacements, drain cleaning, camera inspections, we pretty much do anything plumbing outside of water conditioning and treatment. My company's favorite activity is anything that requires breaking and sawcutting concrete, you can hear the owner's pants slap the bottom of his desk from a mile away when he senses one of his guys found rotted out cast under a basement floor. We pretty much do all the jobs the other companies in town want absolutely nothing to do with. Anyway, I already have my LLC registered, my EIN number, a van, most of my tools, and I've got one foot out the door. Just have a few loose ends to wrap up and I'll be making the jump shortly.

As for stories, I don't know if mine are all that great. One of my most memorable is from when I worked for the hack outfit building wastewater plants. We were putting in 6 digesters, the big tanks you see at treatment plants usually buried in the ground with the ground level catwalks running over top of them. These particular digesters were about 30' deep, with a little access manhole at ground level. So you would climb through this tiny door, climb the ladder about 15' down into the digester, and then the rest of it poked out 15' above ground level. These particular digesters had big welded steel lids that floated on top, with a pipe diverting all the methane to a boiler in the mechanical building. The plant was supposed to be self sufficient, powering itself off the methane from the tanks. According to the engineers, the methane was so powerful, these giant steel lids needed concrete ballasts to weigh them down, otherwise the methane would flip them over or push them out of the digester. So our ironworker crews built the skeletons of the lids, approximately 10' tall, 40' in diameter, and before they welded the big side panels and cover plates on, we used a crane to drop all the ballasts in. There were little shelves on the sides welded together to set the ballasts on, and the ballasts were just big concrete blocks about 3'x3'x5', heavy as fuark. every other shelf got a ballast, with a gap in between. So we dropped all these ballasts in, then welded the panels of the tank lid on to the frame, then used a bigger crane to pick up each lid and set them in the digester. After this was all done the engineer did a job site inspection, stuck his head in all the digesters, and said "how come you only put ballasts on every other shelf? Print shows ballasts on every shelf". We were all ready to kill the foreman at that point. So you guessed it, we had to order more ballasts, then actually use 30' extension ladders to set up chainfalls and comealongs, drop the ballasts into the tanks from through the roof hatches, and hoist these heavy bastards up by hand one by one using chainfalls and such. Lazy foreman never even climbed down in the tanks to help, probably for the better. The guy was a giant spaz and probably would have gotten someone killed. Trust me when I say that pretty much every ballast had some graffiti on it regarding the dumb bastard and his sexual preferences.

Anyway, I hope to learn what I can and help who I can, nice to meet you all.


 

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Welcome. This should be the template for a proper intro. Most guys are like “My name is Ralph and I know what a pipe wrench does. Can you please share all of your valuable trade secrets with me?”
 

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philosopher and statesmen
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welcome to this dumpster fire...
.... looks like you have had a lot of experience in most types of plumbing
I have always found just plain home service plumbing to be the most fun and rewarding and have
stayed away from commercial and industrial plumbing.....
breaking up or cutting up concrete every day for a place that likes that kind of work
can get to be a real drag ...nothing I would care to do

So what kind of plumbing work are you gonna go after??
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Welcome. This should be the template for a proper intro. Most guys are like “My name is Ralph and I know what a pipe wrench does. Can you please share all of your valuable trade secrets with me?”
Thanks, my names not Ralph but I do want all your valuable trade secrets.

So what kind of plumbing work are you gonna go after??
Mostly residential to start, drains, water heaters, softeners, service and maybe some light remodels and installations. I suppose I'm at the whim of the phone though, if all I get are sewer calls, then I guess I just opened a drain cleaning company didn't I? :poop:

Welcome, sweat or compression angle stops?
We use compression at my shop, I guess I'm not super militant about either one as long as it's a quality valve. I don't ever remember seeing a properly installed compression stop leaking at the nut/ferrule, so they seem pretty durable. Overall valve quality is much more important, if the valve will seize up or fail to shut off within 10 years of installation, it's going to have to get ripped out anyway right?

Welcome, what do you charge to diagnose a funny smell?
Funny how, like a clown? Like it amuses you? I swear this is how all "sewer gas smell" calls go: Show up, there are four overflowing litter boxes and what appears to be an elephant turd in the living room. Nine elderly people on oxygen tanks chain smoking through their trach holes and a high school drop out smoking a giant pile of pot. I open up the kitchen cabinet and four dead mice fall out, the smell of cat piss ammonia is causing me to go into sporadic seizures. The homeowners are following me around, *****ing about the "sewer gas smell", demanding I fix it immediately. I find no dried traps, no rocking toilets, no abandoned drains, nothing obvious, but the smell of smoke and animal waste is causing my shirt to melt off my back. I quote them $800 for a smoke test, and they offer me an Sam's Club pretzel jar full of Camel Cash and a free feral cat. I tell them I need to grab my bag balm from the truck and peel off down the road.
 

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Pro dope or blue monster
Maybe he uses Grey so it blends in and doesn't cause call backs when the customer thinks it's copper rust lolz 🤣 🤦‍♀️ Gasoila is the same exact Teal green as copper oxide.
 
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Maybe he uses Grey so it blends in and doesn't cause call backs when the customer thinks it's copper rust lolz 🤣 🤦‍♀️ Gasoila is the same exact Teal green as copper oxide.
Hey man don't be talkin sht on my rectorseal #5 in grey
 

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Hey man don't be talkin sht on my rectorseal #5 in grey
What? Are you drunk? I was advocating FOR the use of Grey dope, not against it. I use Whitlam grey dope and tape MAN.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Pump on supply or return
I've been strictly plumbing since I was an apprentice, so I don't know much about boilers. On a water heater/domestic recirc I always put it on the return, I would assume the same for a boiler but I don't install or service them so I'm not knowledgeable about them.

Propress or solder
Solder. There's a time and a place for propress, but I might use it once or twice a year.

Pro dope or blue monster
Blue monster, never tried pro dope but I'm not a dope nazi, always willing to test new stuff.
 

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philosopher and statesmen
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Master Mark said:
So what kind of plumbing work are you gonna go after??
Mostly residential to start, drains, water heaters, softeners, service and maybe some light remodels and installations. I suppose I'm at the whim of the phone though, if all I get are sewer calls, then I guess I just opened a drain cleaning company didn't I? :poop:

I dont know where you are located at....but IMO you are picking the right kind of plumbing to do .... Drain work can be pretty lucrative alone....
The heaters and softeners are the cash cow that I focus on..... everything else takes a back seat
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Mostly residential to start, drains, water heaters, softeners, service and maybe some light remodels and installations. I suppose I'm at the whim of the phone though, if all I get are sewer calls, then I guess I just opened a drain cleaning company didn't I? :poop:

I dont know where you are located at....but IMO you are picking the right kind of plumbing to do .... Drain work can be pretty lucrative alone....
The heaters and softeners are the cash cow that I focus on..... everything else takes a back seat
I'm keeping a low profile until I turn in my two weeks, so I'm not giving any details on location other than I live in the outskirts of a medium sized city, under a million in the metro. There are a few big dogs and dedicated drain companies in the area, so I'm not sure what kind of calls I'm going to be getting, but there are plenty of older homes with roots. I haven't purchased any drain machines yet, I'm still on the fence if I want to dip into my savings and buy them up front, or if I want to start the business and wait until I have more cash flow and money in the bank. I'm leaning towards just biting the bullet and picking up a sink machine and a bigger sewer machine, gotta spend money to make money I suppose. My biggest fear I guess is I spend a bunch of money on drain equipment and then all of my calls are for plumbing.
 

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:rolleyes: or you could simply get a truck. Get the calls and if an when you sell a drain call go rent a machine..

But really just starting off you should get a jetter trailer. Not joking. Get whatever you can afford
 
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