Plumbing Insights: A Day In The Life
Considering becoming a plumber? Or just curious about what a plumber’s job entails? We caught up with Joe, a Benjamin Franklin Plumber master plumber, to get a sneak peak in to a day in the life of a plumbing professional. With 15 years of experience, Joe has a lot of stories to tell—from strange things people flush down the toilet to what keeps him loving his job. Keep reading to hear what Joe had to say.
Tell us about your position and day-to-day responsibilities? What time do you wake up?
“I’m up by 5:30 a.m. every morning, typically knocking on peoples door by 7:00 a.m. On average I’ll service between 4-5 house calls per day.”
Do you work independently or in teams?
“Most often I’ll be working independently, sometimes I’ll have an apprentice with me as is the case with most master plumbers.”
Could you explain the difference between “journeymen” and “apprentice” for those who don’t know?
“Apprentice is a plumber in training. Before earning a plumbing certification, [you] have to complete between two and five years experience earned through apprenticeships or training courses helping journeymen on the job. The next step is getting your journeyman plumber’s license then additional school is required to become a master plumber.”
What is a master plumber and how long did it take for you to become one?
“A master plumber means you’re fully licensed by the state of Minnesota, think of it as the masters degree in plumbing. It took [me] 6 years of night school while working days for a plumbing shop helping journeymen on the job.”
What’s the busiest day of the week? Why?
“Ok, you’re going to like this answer. The busiest days of the week are Monday’s and Friday’s. Monday’s are busy because we’re fixing all the failed DIY projects from over the weekend. People like scheduling appointments for Friday because they want the 3 day weekend.”
What are the most common plumbing repair issues you fix?
“Almost every call is different, but toilet related problems are probably number one, everything from toilet guts wearing out to toilet clogs.”
Can you give us some examples?
“Well, what lots of people don’t realize is that drop in toilet cleaners – the kind that stay in your toilet, contain high doses of chlorine and bleach which will eat away at the rubber flapper and plastic gaskets inside the toilet tank. Using those cleaners actually voids manufacturer warranties for the toilet.”
What are some interesting things people have tried flushing down the toilet?
“Everything you can imagine – GI Joes, lipstick, eyeliner, toothbrushes etc. Those items can become lodged in the passageways of the toilets and in some cases, can’t be extracted and the toilet needs to be replaced.”
Any plumbing tips and tricks for the average Joe? No pun intended.
Testing for Toilet Leaks – “Take the lid off tank and put a couple drops of food coloring in tank. Let it sit (don’t flush). If the water turns color in the bowl after sitting a number of minutes, that means you have a leak in the toilet.” Learn more signs you might have a water leak.
Prevent Frozen and Burst Pipes – “Disconnect hoses and water line outside every fall to keep from freezing. Pipe could burst under that pressure when it’s frozen or when it starts to thaw.”
Learn more ways to prevent frozen pipes.
Story Time – Biggest plumbing disaster, most bizarre job or funny stories from field
“About a dozen years ago, it was a toilet repair call. Client said they heard a noise coming form bathroom and couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. [I] Arrived at the house and was unable to locate noise. Took toilet lid off to investigate – put lid back on, checked shower, pipes etc. After ½ hour of investigating, I came to find out it was electronic toy poker game the whole time that had originally been sitting on top of the toilet lid. The batteries were going bad and it was making a very high pitched, light humming noise.”
What keeps you motivated to go to work everyday?
“Fixing peoples problems and the variety of challenges. I’m not someone who can sit behind a desk 8 hours a day, I need variety in what I do and enjoy interacting with people.”
What makes BFP different from other plumbing companies in MN?
“We answer the phone 24 hours a day, which is not as common as you’d like to see. We stand behind our work with longer warranties that cover not only parts [which most often come from the manufacturer], but labor as well [which requires a licensed tech].”
What advice would you give to someone seeking the same work?
Call Ben Franklin and ask for a ride along to job shadow. Service work and fixing stuff is the hardest type of plumbing work to do (new construction building new houses, apartments, condos, sky scrappers)
Where did you get certified?
There you have it. A glimpse into what it’s like to be a plumber. If you have a plumbing repair, need, give us a call at (952) 933 – 8888 and maybe Joe will be the one who comes to solve your problem. If you’re a plumber and are interested in learning more about working with Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, visit our career page to find out how to get in touch with us.
If you are not currently a licensed plumber, you are required to work alongside a qualified plumber for 4-5 years to learn the skills necessary to carry out the responsibilities of the job. This is required in the state of Minnesota in order to get a plumbing license. You must also have a high school diploma or equivalent. After you have completed these requirements, you will register with the Construction Codes and Licensing Division of Minnesota or with the Apprenticeship Training Program through the Minnesota’s Department of Labor. Learn more about the process of becoming a plumber in the Twin Cities.
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