When Video Calls With Plumbers Make “Cents”

Plumbing
26.01.2021

There are many times when a homeowner or business should have a licensed plumber come out to make a repair, do an installation, or diagnose a problem. However, depending on an individual’s skill level, there are many times when a video call with a plumber can save time and money and still solve a problem. Watching YouTube videos may allow you to triangulate a solution or answer, but the videos rarely address the exact situation, setup, and question or issue. So an individual will sometimes spend hours watching videos to get a 75% answer or solution. The alternative is to call a plumber and schedule them to go to your home or business. In this case, there will be a service fee just to go out and the additional cost for the material and labor leads to an average cost of $316 (homeadvisor.com). Depending on the issue, it may take days or possibly weeks for a plumber to finally go to your home or business. There are many cases in which a video call with a professional plumber can save time from searching YouTube and the internet and provide a 100% answer or solution. Additionally, there are many instances when a professional plumber can walk a homeowner or business owner through a repair or diagnose a problem, also saving time from waiting for a plumber to have availability to make the service call and saving money for service fees, materials, and labor. Below are several use cases for on-demand video calls with a professional plumber.

Basic DIY Improvement

For homeowners, the weekends are commonly used for DIY projects. One common DIY project is bathroom faucet replacement due to a leak or corrosion or to update it. One new homeowner is motivated and excited for the first DIY project in the new home. The homeowner proactively buys the new faucet early in the week and studies up on faucet installations on YouTube all week. The installation goes well. However, the week after the installation, the homeowner notices a small damp area under the cold water angle stop and checks the supply line connection to make sure it is tight. Everything seems fine. The homeowner cannot find any drops and chalks the observation up to something related to the install and forgets about it until a couple days later when the homeowner notices the dampness has not gone away and has increased. Confidence shaken, the homeowner calls a plumber and makes an appointment for the following week due to low availability. When the plumber arrives, the homeowner explains the installation and the observation of a leak. The plumber opens up the cabinet under the sink, shines the flashlight at the damp area, then at the angle stop, then reaches to the angle stop and turns the nut on the angle stop, says it’s loose, tightens it with a couple of wrenches, and charges the homeowner $100 for the service fee. The homeowner undoubtedly learned several valuable lessons but had there been an option available for an on-demand video call with a licensed plumber, the homeowner could have saved time, stress, and money to figure out that the fix was just to tighten the nut on the angle stop.

Home Inspection for Home Purchase

In a recent home inspection, the inspector observed that the water heater had corrosion, was old, and needed replacement. Subsequently, the buyer wanted a plumber to inspect the water heater and provide an estimate for the replacement so the buyer could negotiate a credit or adjust the sale price based on the cost of the water heater replacement and other repairs.

In this seller’s market, the inspection period had been reduced to 10 days and the 10-day inspection period coincided with Christmas, so there was urgency and not much availability from plumbers to go to the home, do the inspection, and provide an estimate.

In this situation, this is the first time an on-demand video call with an expert, a licensed plumber, could have been useful. A quick video call with a plumber would have allowed the buyer to show the plumber the water heater and overall set up and the plumber to provide an estimate for replacement. All of this could have occurred within 20 minutes and could have even been done inexpensively the same day as the home inspection. If a quick, on-demand video call with a plumber was available, there would have not been any need for the phone calls that followed to multiple plumbers trying to find one that was available and then the coordination of a time with the seller for the plumber to do the inspection.

The buyer eventually did find a plumber that could go out to inspect and provide an estimate. The plumber was aware that this estimation was part of a home purchase and took the liberty to inflate the estimated replacement cost but texted the buyer that he would do the replacement for $350 less than the estimated cost. This was the second time in this situation that an on-demand video call with an expert, a licensed plumber, could have been useful. Now the homeowner was concerned and confused. If the plumber inflated the price on the estimate, how did the buyer know the plumber was not inflating the lower price? How could the buyer trust this plumber and the estimate? A second opinion would have been extremely helpful in this situation. Again, this could have occurred within 20 minutes with a quick, inexpensive, on-demand video call with a plumber.

Another consideration: What if the buyer provided the inflated price for the water heater replacement to the seller and tried to negotiate based on the inflated price? And what if the seller knew about how much a water heater replacement should cost or had no idea how much a water heater replacement should cost? In either case, an on-demand video call with an expert, a licensed plumber, could have been useful for the seller to verify the estimate. This is the third time in this situation that an on-demand video call with a plumber could have been useful. The seller could get an estimate through a video call with a plumber and use that information to verify the buyer’s amount or negotiate a lower amount.

Emergency

You arrive home to a flooded basement or water pouring out of a wall. You realize you need to shut the water off. Immediately following this realization is another and more important realization: you have no idea where your main shutoff valve is located! Good time to Google “how to find your main shutoff” or start watching YouTube videos for locating your main shutoff? In fact, you should do that right now. The problem is, according to the internet, your main shut off valve can basically be anywhere depending the type of home you live in, geographic location, etc. Back to the leak issue. You could call a family member or try to get a neighbor’s help. Both are reasonable options but may not be feasible for any of a variety of reasons. But there is a third option – use an on-demand video call with a licensed plumber. You will shut your water off quickly, possibly saving hundreds or thousands in repair costs, and you can take the opportunity to have a discussion with the plumber. What caused the leak? How much will repairs cost? What do you do next? How can you remove the water? In one video call, you can stop the leak and be on your way to clean-up and repair with confidence within 30 minutes. At best, the internet is an inefficient, time-consuming substitute for dialogue with a licensed professional in this case.  

Career Advice

“If you share my addiction to smooth roads, and affordable electricity, and indoor plumbing, and all of the many things that skilled labor affords us, then you can’t be blasé about the skills gap. You have to realize…call a plumber, wait for three days, then tell me how disinterested you are in addressing the problem. It’s real.” -Mike Rowe at ConExpo 2020 in a video interview by Tom Jackson

If you or someone you know is interested in discussing plumbing as a profession and wants an honest, unbiased conversation about the process to become a plumber, pay, and anything else related to a career as a Plumber, an on-demand video call with a licensed Plumber could be invaluable to a decision.