February 2014

Island Plumbing of Hilton Head: Giving Back with Words of Widsom

Author: Kitty Bartell

When the dust settles after a do-it-yourself project or home repair, many have murmured, whispered, or shouted, “The next time I will hire a professional” … and for good reason. Professionals have the training, experience, and tools, not to mention the insurance, to take on projects with confidence and take them to the finish line. Mike Casey, owner of Island Plumbing of Hilton Head, and long-time manager Willie Moore sat down to share a few insights, tips, and a bit of know-how garnered during their nearly 30 years in plumbing, with the hope that their advice may help property owners save a bit of time, a bit of heartache, and a bit of money as well.

Almost verbatim, most of what follows is the distillation of a conversation of what came from a well-formed outline set out by Casey. It is Casey and Moore’s hope that what they have to share will be of some benefit to property owners as they are faced with plumbing emergencies, general repairs, remodeling, or planning preventative maintenance.

Know the location of your main water cutoff
It is one of the simplest things but very few people know where their main water cutoff is and if it is in good working order. This can save you thousands of dollars in damage to your home and property. There’s nothing worse than waiting for a plumber to arrive while watching water flood your home.

Imagine, your water pipe has burst; think about how much water will be pumping out of that broken hose in the 30 minutes it may take for the plumber to arrive… and that’s if he’s available and quick. Now imagine not getting anyone there for two or three hours… disaster! Often buried under pine straw, overgrown plantings, soil, or even lawn, hopefully the plumber finds the cutoff quickly and that it’s in good working order.

Don’t wait for this to happen. If you need to schedule a plumber for a general repair or remodel, or just an evaluation, ask him to locate your cutoff and show you how it operates. If a new water shutoff valve is needed, the money saved compared to the expense of even a half-inch of water in your home will be well worth it.

Hire a professional
If you have a neighbor or friend who says he can fix it, chances are that you will end up in a very awkward situation, and it happens all the time. Maybe he could fix it and once in a while it just may work. However, maybe he’s the one who tightens it a little too much, and when the next person comes along, it blows. There’s a reason why professional plumbers are skilled, licensed, and insured.

If a friend of a friend knows a professional plumber who is doing jobs on the side, it’s a risky proposition. Chances are you will get him at the end of his regular work day, and even more troubling, he’s likely to not have insurance should anything go wrong. Finding yourself in one of these sticky wickets as a result of trying to save a few dollars could end up costing good neighbor relations and a lot of money.

Quality plumbing fixtures and supplies are a must
When it comes to fixtures and supplies there is a significant difference between what the homeowner may purchase from a big box plumbing supply department, and what a professional plumber purchases from a plumbing supplier, and there’s a very good reason. The big box retailer knows how to get materials cheaper. Knowing what the do-it-yourselfer is willing to pay, the big box store is able to go to the manufacturer and says this is how much we want to pay for this particular faucet. If the manufacturer wants to make the sale, they do what is necessary to keep the cost down, and that usually constitutes substituting hook-up materials that should be solid metal or brass with plastic.

When your plumber purchases fixtures from a professional supplier, you have both the warranty provided by the manufacturer and the warranty guaranteed by the plumbing company, along with superior fixtures. Remember, if you purchase your own supplies from the big box and have a professional do the installation, you are still only covered by the big box.

Keep up with the age of your water heater
Water heaters are one of the biggest causes of flood that Casey and Moore encounter. As a guideline, they recommend replacement every seven to 10 years, depending on the manufacturer. If you don’t, the water heater is going to let you know when it’s done, and it likely won’t be just a cold shower. The age of a water heater is usually in the serial number. To decode it, you may have to go online to the manufacturer’s website.

Worth mentioning is Palmetto Electric’s water heater program. In an effort to give everyone the ability to have a well-functioning water heater, they will install and finance a new unit for property owners. For the latest on the program, give them a call.

If you are remodeling, hire a contractor and get a permit
Casey and Moore encourage property owners to embrace the permitting process with the town, because it is set up for the benefit and protection of the owner. There’s nothing to fear here. If the contractor and homeowner are committed to doing it right, the homeowner is assured that they have licensed, insured professionals working on their job.

However, an unpermitted project has no assurance of being insured properly, potentially unlicensed workers may be on the job, and significant issues may come to light during a future sale of the property. Further, should the town inspectors discover the project (a situation Casey and Moore see 40 or 50 times a year), the expenses and challenges to start over are significant.

No nickel and diming
Getting two or three quotes for a non-emergency plumbing job is encouraged. However, do not try to nickel and dime the quote you ultimately accept. Most professionals quote fairly. However, if the plumber is willing to cut his price, the money saved will be made up somewhere—like spending more time looking for materials in a disorganized truck. Get your quotes, ask your questions, select a plumber, and then let him do the work.
Yin and yang describes how interactions influence the destinies of others. Setting out to change our plumbing fortunes, Casey and Moore are surely the yin and yang of Island Plumbing. 

For more information, please call (843) 842-3333 or visit islandplumbinghhi.com.

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