Plumbing Stories: Benjamin Franklin Technician Shares the Funny, Gross, and Just Plain Weird

Master Plumber Mike Oen

As some of the most experienced plumbers in the business, it’s no wonder that Benjamin Franklin Plumbing technicians have accrued some truly interesting stories over the years. From gross plumbing stories that could turn away the weak-stomached to rewarding stories that showcase the incredible satisfaction the profession can give, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing has seen it all.

We’d like to share some stories from one of our resident storytellers, Mike. Mike started plumbing in 1972 and has worked in new construction plumbing and residential plumbing over the years. He has been with Benjamin Franklin Plumbing since 1992 and enjoys taking care of people’s problems on the job every day! Please enjoy three plumbing stories from Mike the plumber: the grossest, weirdest, and most rewarding calls of his career!

Q: Could you describe a plumbing “horror story” that sticks out in your mind? Any service calls that were particularly gross, or might make a reader’s stomach churn?

I do quite a bit of boiler work, and I got called to a woman’s home because her boiler was producing no heat. As it turned out, she had just gotten home from the hospital and was quite sick—definitely in no shape to figure out the problem herself! I was led into the basement to discover she had two, three, or four cats down there. Here’s where the gross part starts: there wasn’t much else down in the basement, but her cats had left a LOT of animal waste over time. She had taken a snow shovel and scooped the waste into piles—literally, PILES—in the corners of the basement. You can imagine how the piles smelled!

I proceeded to fix the boiler and get it running for her, and she thanked me profusely. When all was said and done, the call turned out to be pretty rewarding.

white boiler in the basement of a house

A basement boiler.

Q: Speaking of rewarding stories, can you describe a time you felt very satisfied with your work or a customer made your job feel very rewarding?

It’s hard to give specifics because those feelings come up all the time. Plumbing is a very rewarding profession full of customers happy and grateful for the work you’re doing.

One of the most rewarding things I think I run across is some of the people I meet. I have customers that I’ve worked with for 20 years, and I feel like they have become friends of mine. One woman calls me her “boiler god,” and she is always interested in how my knees are doing! Another customer and I have a common connection to Minot, North Dakota—we are both originally from there. Building relationships and connections like these is a very enjoyable and rewarding aspect of my job.

Q: To round it off, let’s talk about one of the weirdest calls you’ve had. Any stories that demonstrate how bizarre your days can be?

I was working on a water heater in a house when the owner said she remembered something else she wanted me to look at. She opened a closet door in the basement—here was the water meter and main house cleanout. It’s very common in Minneapolis for these to be in a boxed-out area in the basement floor. The boxed-out area is usually full of dirt or sand, as was the case in this home.

drain cleanout

A drain cleanout, via bmw220.

She had me look at it because she smelled sewer gas in the closet. I could see that the main cleanout was broken in pieces. She approved my quote for the work, so I repaired the cleanout, received payment, and left the home. The next day, the homeowner called our office with a concern—evidently, rats had come into her home during the night. One of them even bit her on the lip while she was sleeping!

She thought that the dogs had chased the rats around the house, but they called an exterminator to investigate. Apparently, the rats were using the cleanout opening as their access to food. When I capped off the drain cleanout, they couldn’t get in there anymore, so they came into the house in search of food!

For more plumbing insights, check out our interview with Joe about the profession, cool stories, and his training. Mike, Joe, and the rest of Benjamin Franklin Plumbing’s certified, licensed technicians are experts at their craft and ready to serve for 24/7 emergency plumbing, plumbing repairs, and installation. We serve Minneapolis, St. Paul, and surrounding suburbs, so give us a call or schedule service today!

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