Young plumber is unlicensed and proud of it

APALACHIN, N.Y. I am 18 years of age and I am starting my career in the heating and plumbing business. My father has been in the business for 30 years and has a solid reputation as the best in our area. We both strive to do only the best work possible. We do all of this unlicensed. We stay out of the licensed area and abide by all local laws and regulations. We have been reading your magazine for

APALACHIN, N.Y. — I am 18 years of age and I am starting my career in the heating and plumbing business. My father has been in the business for 30 years and has a solid reputation as the best in our area. We both strive to do only the best work possible.

We do all of this unlicensed. We stay out of the licensed area and abide by all local laws and regulations. We have been reading your magazine for some time and when we turned to pg. 24 of the May 2006 edition of the magazine we became deeply angered.

The article entitled "Battle cry for licensed plumbers" is very insulting and a slap in the face to honest, hardworking American tradesmen. Just as a little example of the quality of work the licensed plumber does, last winter we received a phone call from a homeowner in great distress. A licensed plumber, whose name will not be mentioned, installed all the plumbing, heating and started the A/C in a $1.5 million house.

When we arrived the boiler was running non-stop. The homeowner was complaining of a high gas bill and the problem was spotted immediately. The thermostat wires were intentionally wire-nutted together and boiler was plugged in using a piece of Romexstripped back and the individual wires plugged into an outlet.

The plumber also used press fittings throughout the house and never crimped two joints in a finished plastered ceiling. This resulted in a ceiling that had to be torn down and plastered again due to water damage. Between my father and me, we cut a total of 20 new holes in the ceiling to fix leaks. The plumber also installed a one-piece fiberglass tub/shower on the second floor and never hooked up the trap. The ceiling was Sheetrocked and plastered, and the result was yet another hole cut in the ceiling to fix the drain after water was run down the drain.

The licensed plumber also installed a four-zone manifold even though the contract required an 11-zone system. We tore out his manifold and replaced it with an 11-zone manifold.

Another example of licensed plumbers doing low-quality work would be the biggest plumbing outfit in our area that installed a new boiler on a 50-year-old system; it consisted of cast-iron baseboard, fin tube and heat convectors on a mono-flow system. The outfit received a complaint from the homeowner that the convectors were not putting out enough heat, so the outfit removed the covers from the heaters and installed fin tube stacked on top of the convectors. They leaked and trapped air in the system. Rather than take the convectors out and install the proper amount of fin tube, they chose this low-quality method, which we were then paid to rip out and install properly sized fin tube in the entire house.

On this same house a home heating/plumbing inspector was called to evaluate the old system. The system was given a clear inspection even though a section of baseboard leaked and the fin tube installed on top of the convectors leaked. Also, one of the zones was not working because of a bad zone valve, which the inspector (who is certified) failed to detect.

All this work was done by licensed plumbers and repaired by unlicensed plumbers. What does that say?

Another section of the article talked about how unlicensed plumbers charge far less than licensed plumbers. We charge more than most outfits because we believe you get what you pay for. Top dollar work demands top dollar.

Yet another section talks about having a nice vehicle and nice appearance. We are proud of our fleet of trucks and are well known for having nice, clean vehicles. We also take pride in our appearance. We have uniforms and computers in the trucks equipped with diagnostic programs, account information, billing sheets and even a heat-loss program. We were also one of the first to start to use the Viega ProPress system in our area. I know for a fact that we are the only plumbers in our area to de-bur and chamfer our PVC to resist clogging.

What I would really like is for Georgian Lussier to take a ride with us for a week and look at our quality of work and customer service. I would really appreciate a response to this letter and an explanation for why you allow the bashing of the American tradesman in your magazine.