Industry Blogs

Winter is Coming

As they say in one of the world’s most popular television shows: winter is coming. With winter comes the inevitable rise in the number of burst pipe calls all plumbers will be tasked with repairing. Pipes are generally more likely to burst when the temperature drops below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. It is suggested that those Read More

As they say in one of the world’s most popular television shows: winter is coming. With winter comes the inevitable rise in the number of burst pipe calls all plumbers will be tasked with repairing. Pipes are generally more likely to burst when the temperature drops below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. It is suggested that those living in cold-weather climates keep their homes heated to a minimum of 36 degrees if they are not going to be using their water for an extended period of time. However, no matter how present these warnings are, some winter pipe bursts are unavoidable.

Fortunately, John Guest has committed time and effort to developing the products necessary to tackle this problem. The John Guest Speedfit slip connectors provide plumbers with a quick, simple, and easy fix for burst pipes.

Their slip connectors come in two sizes and can be used to fix pipe bursts on PEX, CPVC, and copper pipes, providing an efficient solution to a litany of burst-pipe problems. John Guest slip connectors have push-fit connections, allowing for rapid installation that should at least temporarily solve one of the major issues with burst pipes: leakage. The push-fit fitting allows all of this to be accomplished without any additional pipe work.

Slip connectors are also built to work with both hot and cold pipes, again providing coverage across the entire spectrum of possible burst-pipe issues that one may encounter. John Guest slip connectors are made with lead-free, non-toxic, and non-flammable materials so you can feel secure in installing these connectors for any issue and leave them to run without constant monitoring. Like all John Guest products, the Speedfit slip connectors are made with an advanced polymer material, assuring our customers that they are receiving only the highest-quality performance.

For more visit John Guest Speedfit slip connectors.

 

Des Plaines, Ill. — Geberit North America recently participated in the 2018 United Association (UA) Instructor Training Program, which ran from August 11 to 17, 2018 at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Geberit representatives provided instruction to attendees on the installation, maintenance and benefits of Geberit in-wall systems for wall-hung plumbing fixtures, showcasing Read More

Des Plaines, Ill. — Geberit North America recently participated in the 2018 United Association (UA) Instructor Training Program, which ran from August 11 to 17, 2018 at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Geberit representatives provided instruction to attendees on the installation, maintenance and benefits of Geberit in-wall systems for wall-hung plumbing fixtures, showcasing the versatility of Geberit products in modern plumbing applications, including ADA and universal design.

The UA Instructor Training Program is a 200- or 120-hour certificate program exclusively for instructors who are members of the United Association. The week-long program enhances scientific and technical knowledge and refines teaching techniques, equipping UA instructors to promote the achievement of students in an increasingly complex field. With over 200 faculty, industry representatives and manufacturers participating, and over 100 courses offered, the event provides the comprehensive education necessary to keep the plumbing and pipefitting industries on the cutting edge of twenty-first century advancements.

Ronn Jefferson teaching a course for UA instructors in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The event in Ann Arbor was an incredible experience,” says Ronn Jefferson, product manager for Geberit North America. “Our audience was very enthusiastic about the introduction to Geberit products, especially the benefits provided in terms of maintenance, space savings, and accessibility. The effort and detail put into the program at every level demonstrates how committed the United Association is to promoting excellence in the industry.”

Participants noted the particular relevance of the introduction to Geberit products, with an increasing number of their projects prioritizing space savings for ADA and aging in place. They also applauded the built-in dual-flush capability provided by Geberit in-wall systems, a distinct advantage now that more and more people are seeking ways to save water.

“The United Association is securing the future of the industry by investing in quality education,” Jefferson adds. “Geberit North America is proud to play a small role in their efforts.”

Drain cleaning is in full-swing and if you’ve been thinking about ways you can add services to your business – diagnostics, inspection and locating – may be the perfect addition. Not only can it add an additional revenue stream year-round, but it’s a particularly beneficial service this time of year when home buying tends to Read More

Drain cleaning is in full-swing and if you’ve been thinking about ways you can add services to your business – diagnostics, inspection and locating – may be the perfect addition. Not only can it add an additional revenue stream year-round, but it’s a particularly beneficial service this time of year when home buying tends to pick up across the country.

While most homebuyers opt to have a home inspection completed as part of the home buying process, sewer inspection is not typically included. Many don’t know to ask for it and realtors aren’t always suggesting it as a necessary inspection.

Drain Mob, a camera, jetting and drain cleaning company in San Diego regularly provides camera inspection and drain cleaning services for clients after they’ve purchased a home and are experiencing issues, something they and other professionals think could be avoided if homebuyers and their realtors took the time to inspect the lines as part of the home inspection.

“Every day we see a lot of clients that did not have a realtor that would actually camera their sewer lines, they would always go on the inspection report from the inspector,” said Billy Teeter, Drain Mob Owner in a recent Instagram video talking to realtors. “It’s two to three hundred dollars, it’s worth the money. Hire a professional and you’ll be a hero with your client.  Protect your clients investment.”

How to Get Started

To begin offering services to this market, you don’t need to buy equipment all at once. Invest in equipment you’ll initially need most and then add-on as needed once you recoup your initial investment. For example, a RIDGID® SeeSnake® Compact2 Camera System paired with the CS6xPak Digital Recording Monitor is a good initial investment for residential jobs. All RIDGID digital monitors come standard with Wi-Fi allowing for easy capturing and sharing of images and video through the HQx Live App on your phone or tablet. This lets buyers and sellers quickly see any potential issues.

 

After your initial equipment purchase, marketing your new service becomes a priority. A few ideas as you get started are:

  • National Association of Realtors – Connect with your local National Association of Realtors chapter. The association represents 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries and has over 1,200 local associations/boards and 54 state and territory associations.
  • American Society of Home Inspectors – Reach out to local home inspectors about partnering to offer drain and sewer inspection as part of their services. The American Society of Home Inspectors, a professional organization for inspectors across the country, offers a searchable database of local inspectors on their website.

Additional Business Benefits

Incorporating diagnostic, inspection and locating services into your business provides additional benefits for a company. These include:

  • Expanded Capabilities Diagnostics is an investment that quickly pays for itself and continues to drive incremental income by letting contractors offer additional plumbing services. It also allows plumbers to take on more complex and difficult projects they previously would have had to decline.
  • The Added Value of Certainty – Clearly seeing the problem means being able to offer the right fix, no more and no less. For customers, seeing the problem that backs the estimate increases their trust in a contractor and the necessity of work being completed.
  • Find it. Clear it. – Contractors can serve more customers in less time with diagnostics, inspection and locating equipment because they can locate and repair problems faster. Many tools come standard with Wi-Fi capabilities, allowing for findings to be shared immediately with clients and co-workers, which leads to faster decisions and shorter projects.

In closing, regardless of whether you decide to target your diagnostic, inspection and locating services to homebuyers and realtors, these services and type of equipment can be a beneficial addition for your business and clients.

Article by Gina Hartman

Gina is Senior Global Marketing Manager of Underground Technologies, including inspection and diagnostic products, at RIDGID®. The company is a global manufacturer of more than 300 dependable and innovative tools, trusted by professional trades in over 100 countries. Learn more at RIDGID.com.

For residential plumbers, there have been two schools of thought for plumbing a house: home run and trunk and branch. Both have their positives and negatives, depending on what you’re trying to accomplish with the plumbing system. However, you may not know there’s a new (and smarter) way to design and install a residential plumbing Read More

For residential plumbers, there have been two schools of thought for plumbing a house: home run and trunk and branch. Both have their positives and negatives, depending on what you’re trying to accomplish with the plumbing system.

However, you may not know there’s a new (and smarter) way to design and install a residential plumbing system that installs faster, uses less materials, requires fewer connections, minimizes your liability and operates more efficiently.

It’s called Logic plumbing.

A Logic plumbing design can only be used with PEX piping, but since PEX is now used in more new-home construction than copper and CPVC combined, you’re most likely already using it. (And if you’re not, you need to check it out. PEX is highly durable, flexible and more cost-effective compared to copper and CPVC.)

The Logic approach leverages the flexibility of PEX pipe to minimize connections and reduce potential leak points while also incorporating multiport tees located near fixture groupings to both limit the amount of pipe and connections needed while also improving installation efficiencies and system performance.

What’s a multiport tee?

I’m sure right now you’re wondering, “What’s a multiport tee?” It’s essentially a bunch of tees all molded together to create one long tee with multiple outlets. This innovative product minimizes connections and is the heart and soul of a Logic design.

For example, six regular tees will have 18 connections, but a flow-through multiport tee with six outlets will only have eight connections (six connections for the ports, a main flow-through inlet and a main flow-through outlet). Think about how much faster you could install a system when you’re making half the number of connections.

And get this — while multiport tees may resemble a manifold, they have the benefit of being hidden behind walls without the need for an access panel. Yes, you heard that right. No need for an access panel, minimizing costs and labor to help keep your projects on schedule and on budget.

Multiport tees are made of engineered polymer (EP), a thermoplastic material that has been used in plumbing applications for more than 20 years. EP has superior mechanical, chemical and thermal properties that provide dimensional stability in demanding applications, including areas of high stress, heat and moisture.

And, like PEX, the EP material in multiport tees resists corrosion, pitting and scaling, so it creates a highly durable system that’s engineered to last. Best of all, multiport tees (as well as all EP fittings) are approved for direct burial in the soil or concrete slab, so they are ideal for in-slab plumbing applications.

The Logic layout

So what exactly is a Logic plumbing layout? It’s quite simple: a main line connects to a multiport tee with distribution lines going out from the tee. These individual lines extending from the single multiport tee provide water to all fixtures in a single or adjacent grouping.

This design uses significantly less pipe than a home-run layout, with just a few more connections. Plus, it requires considerably fewer connections compared to a trunk-and-branch installation.

For example, a 2,300-square-foot, two-story home using a Logic design requires only 637 feet of pipe while a home-run system uses 1,515 feet of pipe. That’s more than twice the amount of piping necessary.

In addition to the added costs required to install all that extra pipe, the system performance is also greatly reduced due to added pressure loss and longer wait times for hot water. Plus, all the extra pipe can lead to issues isolating hot and cold water lines. This increases heat transfer and energy inefficiencies within the plumbing system.

And, while it’s true a Logic installation uses slightly more connections than a home-run layout (59 vs. 48 in the 2,300-square-foot, two-story home example above), the amount of pipe savings is significantly more beneficial with the labor and material savings you get with less pipe to install (not to mention the efficiency of the system).

A Logic layout also installs much faster compared to a trunk-and-branch system due to the vast reduction in connections. With the two-story home example above, a Logic layout uses a mere 16 fittings and 59 connections compared to a whopping 96 fittings and 165 connections for trunk and branch. That’s six times the number of fittings and nearly three times the amount of connections!

All those added connections greatly increase your liability with more potential for leaks, plus it also limits the performance of the system with increased pressure loss.

So there you have it! Just a few “logical” reasons why you should consider a smarter approach to plumbing a home that will improve your installation times, limit your liability and offer an all-around better-performing system for the end user.

Kim Bliss is the content development manager at Uponor. She can be reached at kim.bliss@uponor.com.

Four pro tips on how to cope with ever-growing consumer demands and better serve today’s digitally fluent customers You don’t have to be a fan of HGTV’s hit show Fixer Upper to be familiar with hosts Chip and Joanna Gaines. These days, the husband-wife duo has become the face of the American DIY Dream to Read More

Four pro tips on how to cope with ever-growing consumer demands and better serve today’s digitally fluent customers

You don’t have to be a fan of HGTV’s hit show Fixer Upper to be familiar with hosts Chip and Joanna Gaines. These days, the husband-wife duo has become the face of the American DIY Dream to transform an unsightly space into something chic and beautiful. And while the experienced contractor might understand the projects featured in each 30-minute episode actually take eight weeks or more to complete, home makeover shows make it look fun, easy—and unrealistically quick.

Considering the huge popularity of HGTV and DIY networks, there’s a good chance your customers are familiar with – and have been inspired by – the Gaineses and other home makeover stars.

In addition to HGTV and DIY network, your customers are likely fans of services like Amazon Prime two-day delivery, on-demand ride-hailing apps Uber and Lyft, and any number of other apps, websites and virtual services that have conditioned the average American to expect what they want when they want it.

This is the world in which we live and paint. In-person visits to a prospective customer’s house or business to spec out a project are being replaced by a growing number of mobile apps and web services like Paintzen, Houzz and Angie’s List that provide instant access to contractors, reviews, project estimates and design inspiration. This trend presents new challenges for the painting pro, but also new opportunities.

“Any time you can get people interested in what we do, we can add value by providing that service to them,” says Kevin Nolan, President and CEO of Nolan Painting in Havertown, PA. Nolan, who has nearly 40 years in the industry, says customers that look to platforms like Houzz and programs like Fixer Upper for design ideas are likely to have a more adventurous approach to their project and a clearer idea of what they’re after, not to mention a photo or video clip to help share their vision.

Tom VanDerkolk, 25-plus-year industry veteran and owner of VanDerkolk + Kooi Painting in Grand Rapids, MI, agrees, specifically citing how communication technology advancements have made his team more efficient. “Most projects are going to have questions, concerns or misunderstandings. We work to plan around those as much as possible, but simply knowing if our customer prefers a text, call or email allows us to solve an issue quickly.”

Here are four takeaways to help you stay relevant in the digital era and manage ever-growing customer expectations.

Get Social

If your business doesn’t have a Facebook or Instagram page, start there. Both platforms offer a free and easy way to showcase your handiwork. There’s a good chance your customers will share those project photos with their networks, which could lead to additional business. Or, you could pay to boost one or more of your posts to reach a larger network of potential customers. Both Facebook and Instagram allow you to choose your budget and target your posts to specific geographic regions and user interests; for even as little as $20, you can increase the probability of getting your craftsmanship in front of people most likely to need your services.

If you specialize in commercial work, sharing with photos, videos or behind-the-scenes tidbits about your work processes on LinkedIn might help you catch the eye of other local businesses.

Many of your prospective customers look to Pinterest for inspiration specifically for home painting projects. Having a Pinterest presence will show your customers that you are up to date with current trends and can be useful in helping your customer pinpoint the paint color or design scheme they are after.

Learn to Use a New Tool: Technology

While there are plenty of ways you can spend money to get noticed online, there are also a variety of free tools. For example, VanDerkolk says his team often uses Google Maps’ Streetview and Google Earth imagery to view a new job site – a simple practice that helps them prepare for the job. You can also review your business’ Facebook page insights (they’re free) to get a better understanding of your audience’s age, gender and location demographics – information that can be of use when designing a seasonal sales push, tailoring the tone of your social media content or deciding where to target an advertising campaign. And storing frequently used sales and marketing materials on cloud storage services like Google Drive or Dropbox allows for quick and easy access out in the field. Some painting contractors take their use of technology one step further — Google AdWords campaigns (an inexpensive form of online advertising) can help generate new leads, for example.

Own Your Reviews

Nolan and VanDerkolk’s combined 67 years of experience hasn’t yielded a sure-fire way to avoid negative customer feedback, but it sure has taught them a thing or two in how best to deal with it. Both owners recommend taking the time to respond to any negative reviews that show up on Google, Facebook, and Yelp, an effort that at minimum demonstrates to anyone who may encounter the negative review that you are genuinely concerned about your customers’ satisfaction, and in the best-case scenario may even result in the dissatisfied customer amending the negative review (or removing it altogether) or giving you another shot at the business. Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask your satisfied customers to leave a positive review of your business online – having a high volume of good reviews on Google, for example, will help your business show up in search results.

Maintain Your Humanity

No amount of technology will replace the value of a human connection with your customer. So while some homeowners may opt for the ease of a website or app to get a project estimate, the reality is that many more will seek your business out because of your reputation or as the result of a recommendation from a friend or family member. VanDerkolk recommends going the extra mile with customers whenever possible; he’s been known to surprise families who are without use of their kitchen for a few days due to a renovation project with a gift card to a local restaurant or tickets to a sporting event. Similarly, Nolan recommends finding ways to give back to the community around you. Whether you are sponsoring a community event or doing pro bono work for a community organization, you are demonstrating your business’s character and culture in a way that no digital service can ever replace.

Diane Walsh is Vice President of Market Development and Sales Operations for ShurTech Brands, LLC, maker of FrogTape® brand painter’s tape. Diane also serves as director of the ShurTech Brands Professional Paint Advisory Board, working with leading contractors from across the country to explore industry trends and share innovations for the benefit of the entire trade. Diane was awarded 2018 PDCA Associate Member of the Year.