Monday, January 28, 2013



Now being a plumber might not be pretty work but it is a secure living for your young'un and think of all the money you will save having one in the family. After living 73 years, I just had my first ever encounter with the sticker shock that comes with a plumber's bill. It was kind of a breathtaking new experience

 Any previous plumbing problems that I couldn't patch my self, I had always sought a boyfriend, brother or  handy man for the fix. This was my first pro.

We have a delightful service here in Tiny Town, Arkansas.  If you have a water leak anywhere on your side of the meter, the water company will call you to let you know. 

I was so pleased when the girl called me to let me know my consumption had dramatically increased andthey did not let me find out via a horrific water bill.

Our water meters are read electronically by some neato gadget held by the reader as he drives past our homes. No dog bites for these fellows. Somehow, they can tell if current usage is intentional or  a leak. 

Regardless, when I checked my meter reading, I realized I was using three times the normal amount of water so off I went in search of a plumber and found a delightful fellow after two good references. 

I got a bit concerned when two panel trucks the size of  Winnebagos pulled up in the drive and two men got out. Yikes, a crew.  I did not totally panic though and reasoned that two men would cut the work time in half and that probably held true. 

The plumber checked all the obvious places inside the house. He did find a minor leak behind the hot water heater and replaced a copper flex hose.  That wasn't the culprit however. Digging up my service was not fruitful. 
Yea, no plumbers crack.
Finally, the culprit.

  I have two cold weather hydrants and sure enough both were leaking deep in the soil. They dug them up and capped them off  which stopped the leak completely.

Sadly, he did not have replacement hydrants so he would have to come back the next day.  I also wanted the innards to my bath tub faucets replaced so he said he would replace them the next day also. 

Now in defense of this fellow, he was very personable and a quick yet thorough worker. His young helper also worked with speed and seemed to read the plumbers mind. They were a good team.

 I was also impressed with their tidiness. All removed dirt was put on tarps and when they filled the three holes back in, you could not tell anyone had been there. Anything misplaced was replaced. They were extraordinarily neat.  

However, the next day and six total work hours later plus parts, I got the bill and it was for almost $900.00. Cough, cough, wheeze. I live on SS so this was staggering to me.  

Ok, I have since rationalized that they worked in wet mud in 30 degree weather and that it does takes years of schooling and apprenticeship to become a master plumber.  I have calmed down a  lot. After all the leak is fixed. 

I've also concluded that  eating is highly over rated  and I do have surplus burnable energy stored up around my middle.  However I am currently not turning away care packages containing food:))      

I am hoping that those of you who live in more urban areas will tell me I got a real bargain. Please!!  That would make me feel a so much better.   


  1. That sounds like a fair price to me. I just spent almost $800.00 to have a well pump, foot valve and cut-off switch replaced. We were happy there was no digging involved. Fortunately it was in the 40's, not the current below 15!

    If you sort of break it down it becomes a bit more understandable. Two days.....$450 per day....two trucks.( and in my experience there are always at least two people involved) Someone is running the office, etc. I started doing this to get myself over the bill shock.

    I hope all the problems were solved....

  2. I find I'm shocked at the price that all workman charge to do a job. We had some roof work done recently and I almost passed out at the bill! I'm in the wrong profession that's for sure!

  3. No matter how you look at it, they will justify the price and I usually end up, shrugging and say, "Everyone has to make a buck." (Except us-un's)
    I mean the SS group. Ha

  4. Yikes! But what can we do? It has to be fixed, right? I also live on SS and a number like $900 makes me cringe too.

  5. shorten story...water leak for probably 10 years in behind the toilet in the front bathroom of my parents house. We moved in with my Dad. The floor was mushy. Called a plumber. They took out the toilet replaced the floor joists, replaced the toilet = 2 days work, $1700.00. Holy Moly. Feel better.
    But I'm still sorry my dear.

  6. We are almost done paying a mountain of bills because of Sandy damage. We had minimal electrical problems, but friends of mine were not so lucky. They received flood insurance payments, and eventually got a second check. Apparently the average rate the insurance company paid for electricians, based on national rates, was too low for New Jersey. Unfortunately they have not done that for our plumbing, dry wall, and other work we had done.
    You are so right - tell our kids to become plumbers, electricians and other hands-on workers. You cannot outsource those jobs to China or anyplace else.

  7. Any service is expensive! I was wanting to get my fence repaired...sheesh! I didn't ask for a quote for building some kind of a fort...just a fence! Just paid $500 (and I found out that was Very reasonable) for a tree to be removed. So plumber. Hear that??? that's me knocking on wood!!! :)

  8. I'm so lucky because my husband has been in the construction industry his entire life and owned a construction business before he decided to retire. He has in-depth knowledge of all building trades, being a master carpenter by preference. Now, however, he is taking his retirement seriously and is not doing a thing around the house. We have a leak under the kitchen sink that is being treated with a bucket! Well, he empties the bucket, I have to say that much for him, but still!!!!

  9. Whoa Baby...!
    That's what it cost to fill our propane tank..!!

  10. Re INGER'S comment: "We have a leak under the kitchen sink that is being treated with a bucket! Well, he empties the bucket, I have to say that much for him, but still!!!!" Her husband has been our contractor ever since I can remember. My husband wants to know if she wants us to send her a tube of plumber's putty!!

  11. Plumbers are skilled labor, for sure.I think it was reasonable, considering all the digging, etc., AND, that they were sooo Neat!!
    I'm glad it is fixed! And I wish the Water Dept had that kind of service here---that is quite incredible.

    Just so you know, I have seen ALL the movies on a 27 inch TV----I am confined to my home with Health Issues, so, it is the only way I can see films...."LIFE OF PI" was thrilling and moving. I'm sure it must be even more FANTSTIC in a Theatre, but it was still truly GREAT on my TV....!

  12. That is expensive but I am not verse in these things. I used to rent before I had my handy husband but I am not sure he could have fixed that leak.

  13. It is very reasonable for what they had to do. I rent, so it wouldn't ever happen to me, but I do know people who have had disasters like this that cost MUCH more. Wow, Patti! Will they let you pay it off monthly?

  14. It seems reasonable to me, patti. It really does cost to get good work done. Right now we're having our furnace replaced. I looked out the window, there were three large utility trucks and one van. Gulp. Now that's going to be some big bill!

    I wish I was your neighbor, I'd bring over some food!

  15. smartcat,
    Ok, guess I will quit whining. At least it is good to know I wasn't over charged. Thanks for the input. At least I am now leak-less.

    LL cool Joe,
    I remember when you had that work done. I was afraid your bill would be astronomical. I have had roof work done and that smarts.

    You are right. Considering I had no choice for it would have only gotten worse, guess I will just grin and bare it.

    linda eller,
    It did have to be done and at least I got hard working pleasant fellows.

    Linda Wildenstein,
    Yikes, I feel better for me but mercy not for you. That would have put my good disposition on hold for quite a while.

    You make an excellent point about outsourcing. Hadn't thought about that.
    Here I am moaning about 900 bucks and you all had major work done. In Florida for the 2004 hurricane pasting we got, I understood FEMA helped with the difference between what the insurance companies allowed and what the bill was. I hope they did some of that for you.

    Yikes, that was for one tree?? I remember paying 100 for one tree but that was in Florida 8 years ago. Sure is painful isn't it?

    Ok, now that is funny!! He really took retirement literally didn't he? :))

    Blue Ridge Boomer,
    Ouch. Sounds like my propane bill. You must use it for heat also. That is a real wheezer also.

    Ha ha, now that is funny also. Guess he is busted now.

    I know, it really surprised me that they did that. Love small towns.
    Thanks for letting me know the movie will be good on the small screen. I am 3 hours away from a theater.

    Hang on to that handy fellow. My sister in law has one of those with my brother. They rarely pay a pro.

    Times like this I am sorry I don't rent. The joys of home ownership I guess. I paid it right then but it did smart. It came on top of furnace repairs. Not broke but bent.

    Oh dear. I just had furnace repair which was painful but no where near the trauma of replacement. 4 trucks would give me the vapors. Wishing you luck.
    Thanks so much for the sweet offer. Pretty sure my sufficient middle will carry me through.

  16. They were thorough, tidy, and were able to find and fix your problem. That sounds like a hefty bill, but probably fair. Why don't more kids today want to go into trades? I have 2 friends who are plumbers (yes, I still pay for service). They both live in great houses - it seems like a good trade person can make a fine living. Make lots of homemade soup - a little cost goes a long way.

  17. I'm lucky in that my hubby can fix a lot of things, but I'm not sure he would have been up for that big a job.

    Everything is so expensive now. We had our furnace fixed after hubby decided he'd done all he knew to do. The bill was really high for only an hour's work, I thought. At least the furnace is good for another few years, but it is getting old. We'll not replace it unless we decide to live out our years here.

  18. I hate to have a professional come work on something around here, but I REALLY hate having an amateur work on something!

    Hang in there it will be spring someday and you can hunt and fish or something.

    It is spring was 78 again today! I'm hoping we will get some cool weather again before summer comes for real.

  19. Just unclogging a drain in the kitchen in less than an hour cost my daughter about $75.00 about 5 years ago, so for all that work that was done at your place, I'd say you got a very good bargain. Plumbers are notorious for being expensive. Sigh...

  20. I was a plumber's assistant for a year... I enjoyed it and am not sure why I didn't go that route... I am able to do a majority of the work around the house, emergency or otherwise.

    Glad your guys have the leaks plugged, but ouch.

  21. Ouch! I would have gulped and gasped to see that bill. But now that I think about cost us $400.00 to have a few dead limbs cut from a tree. That was probably a pretty good price you paid since they did more work than our tree people did. We have not had the service of a plumber in many years. Since our son retired from the army he does all of our plumbing work for us. If we had to have something major done though we don't know if he could do that.

    Glad your leak is all fixed and hope you get no more. We who live on SS can't very often handle those gigantic bills to have done what HAS to be done. Hugs and give Mighty some nose kisses for us!

  22. You have raised a serious issue: Why do we assume every high school graduate should go to college?

  23. I was gonna say, plumbers make a darn fine living.

  24. Yipes---that is expensive... I don't know why young people go to college anymore. They need to go to technical schools (much less money) --and get trained in something specific such as being a plumber... They make more money these days than some of the people who have college degrees... AND--there are always jobs available whereas college students don't always get jobs after graduating...

    Glad you got it fixed though.


  25. Hi Patti,
    I'm very sympathetic. Such bills are huge mountains to those of us who have little income. I usually look at bills in terms of how many coffee mugs I have to make in order to come up with the money, and how much time will be involved, and it always works out at days or weeks of my labour to pay for a plumber or (worse) a dentist's few minutes or hours!!

  26. That sounds steep to me, but nowadays probably not.

  27. Barb,
    Soup is a good idea. I am sure I won't waste away though:)
    Plumbing really would be a great choice for kids today.

    Yikes, I know about furnace repairs. Just had mine worked on. That one was a shock also. Keep that hubby happy. Handy hubbies are worth their weight in gold.

    Amber Star,
    Well at least with spring I can plant my food. Not sure I could kill my groceries:)
    We have been in the high 70's also but think that nasty front that went through last night will bring back the cold.

    Thanks. I am betting though that Art would have tackled and solved the problem. Handy hubbies are so neat to have around.

    That is where you guys have an advantage. When young you work a variety of jobs picking up really useful knowledge. You have a lucky wife.

    Keep that son happy with pies, cakes and appreciation. He will save you a lot of gasping:))

    I know. We send our young to college at great expense so they can serve coffee at Starbucks while waiting in the long employment lines for a job to open up in their chosen field. Something wrong there.

    Introverted Art,
    You are right. Not pretty work but as Mercyn said, that is one job that can't be outsourced.

    You make a great point. There are lots of well paid trades. A college degree today just affords kids the opportunity to stand in line with a ton of fellow grads for a small number of jobs.

    You are so right. I have never equated my work hours to a bill. Yikes, that could really depress a person.

    The more I have checked around and from the comments, I think you are right. It is one of those just "suck it up Patti" events. It was necessary and was it fixed, competently at that.

  28. Unfortunately, that probably is a bargain.

    You wouldn't believe what I've paid plumbers in building this house...

  29. Dear Arkansas Patti, from my having had a plumber come to my Stillwater home five years ago to fix the pipes because nothing would drain, even when I used the liquid plumber stuff, I can assure you that $900 is about right for that amount of work. I'm hoping you are feeling snug and cosy in your home that is now leak-proof!

    I've been away from reading and commenting on blogs for about two months and when I look back through yours I see that I've missed many wonderful postings. If there are any postings that you'd especially like me to read, please e-mail me the URLs or insert them in a comment box on my blog. I'd appreciate that. Take care and peace.

  30. RMW,
    Yikes, I do remember the agony you went through with your contractor.

    Thanks, I am beginning to be comforted to know that it was probably a fair price to pay.
    You didn't miss anything. Glad to see you posting again.

    Ha,ha I had forgotten about John McCain's political plumber.

  31. Yikes! Wheezing your your behalf. However, an "authorized repairman" charged $500 to repair our ice maker and screwed up the waterline in the process. I may need your plumber.

  32. OH Wow I would have stroked when they gave me that bill.
    One reason I am so glad to have sold my house because I just could not pay these high repair bills anymore.
    I would imagine that price is probably about right considering what all they did even though it does sound really high.
    Wish you lived closer I could feed you for a while. hahaha
    Love ya

  33. Well since I live north of you and there is no resident plumber in my small town, a service call includes travel and starts at $40+ mileage+ time+parts+cost of assistant which is probably an apprentice plumber. We happen to have a two retired plumber friends who help us out. However husband is pretty adept at indoor toilet flappers, faucets, etc.

    Our town is putting in same type water meters which means our bills will increase as the old meters are not metering every little drop. I hate to see my bill when mine is installed.

    I may be forced to turn my yard into a desert landscape, cacti and yucca, sand, rock and gravel.

    In Arizona they paint the sand and gravel in some places-designs often have Native American themes. We hope to vacation that way to the Grand Canyon next fall. Maybe I will see some of them.

  34. I guess my mother in law did it right. All three of Mike's brothers are/were plumbers and his son is a plumber as well. Mike himself was always the rebel, but he will fix leaks around the house.

  35. I could tell you that was a good price but you still had to pay the bill and it still would be $900.00. Gulp - that would hurt most anyone. I am sorry!

  36. Yikes ... I empathise, being on SS too. It seems that service calls and work are much, much more expensive than just a few years back.

  37. mary lee,
    Ok, now I am wheezing in your behalf and feeling a bit more fortunate on this end. Sorry what you went through and thanks.

    Home ownership is wonderful till there is a repair needed. Then I wish I rented.
    Thanks for the offer. Pretty sure we would laugh more than eat which is a good thing.

    Retired pros are so much better than those still working daily. Lucky you.
    I am not opposed to painted or sand scaped yards either, especially when the summer temps pass the hundred mark. Take pictures when you are there.

    Smart woman though throwing in at least one electrician wouldn't have hurt.:)

    Thanks fellow and you are right though it does take some of the sting out of it.

    I guess the problem is that there usually years between visits so we don't realize how much the price has gone up. We just have to grin and bear it I guess.