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Taught my customer to change a water heater thermocouple and gas valve

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  • Taught my customer to change a water heater thermocouple and gas valve

    got a phone call from a good customer on sunday, he had to take a cold shower. his 75 gallon ao smith heater has a bad gas valve. being a sunday and everywhere closed, I talked him through changing the thermocouple. figured it was a cheap try on a sunday. he managed to go to the hardware store and have it swapped in under 30 minutes including the drive to the store to buy it. not bad for a non pro who runs a print shop supply house.

    of course that didn't fix it and he then needed a gas valve. nothing local to his house and had to drive 15 miles to a supply house that had 1 in stock. called me tonight and asked a few questions. 30 minutes later I get a text message from him.

    "thought you would laugh at my makeshift jig. note vice is unbolted. you rock! thanks again for all your help! let's hope it hangs in now. how long to heat up?"

    his mistake was not unscrewing the gas flex adapter from the valve and then having to unwrench the adapter without a secondary back up wrench. so he used a bench vice that wasn't bolted down and an old mag light as a cheater for his old valve. pretty creative and not bad for a guy used to being the big boss man and not the hands on man. and yes he tested the complete system with soapy water too.

    rick.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by PLUMBER RICK; 12-09-2013, 11:14 PM.
    phoebe it is

  • #2
    Re: Taught my customer to change a water heater thermocouple and gas valve

    Good for Him. I don't know of many supply houses open on Sun.! Maybe one in S.F. 8 miles away. Is this common in L.A. ?
    I can build anything You want , if you draw a picture of it , on the back of a big enough check .

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    • #3
      Re: Taught my customer to change a water heater thermocouple and gas valve

      Most are open in saturday till noon. Anything after hours has to be an emergency and expect to pay $200.00 to come open up.

      Bummer was the valve he needed was not at any of the local Fergusons or express pipe. Had to go over the hill to the San Fernando Valley for a simple 6 year old water heater valve for a 75 gallon heater.

      40 and 50's I have valves. Even on some 100's. But the 75 I couldn't help on sunday.

      He appreciates it and is glad to have a hot shower.

      Rick. .
      phoebe it is

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      • #4
        Re: Taught my customer to change a water heater thermocouple and gas valve

        had to drive 15 miles
        Just had to laugh,
        when I go out to check fences in the pasture that trip is 4.5 miles, around the pasture, and the pasture starts at the house,

        It is a 12 mile drive just to get a carton of milk from a store,
        but to get any kind of supplies, it is a 40 mile drive one way and 55 the other way, and still it not great selection either way,
        for a heater valve one would have to order out of Denver or find a take off,
        Last edited by BHD; 12-10-2013, 10:35 AM.
        Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
        attributed to Samuel Johnson
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and oil...plus the current state of the economy............the light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off.

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        • #5
          Re: Taught my customer to change a water heater thermocouple and gas valve

          True, but realize there are well over 10 supply houses much closer to him. 15 miles is more than I drive most days. Remember I average 12 mph over the last 4 years. Thats a long trip for a water heater valve.

          Rick.
          phoebe it is

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          • #6
            Re: Taught my customer to change a water heater thermocouple and gas valve

            I'm sure the hire a pro crowd must be very disappointed in Rick

            As far as the drive - in a lot of LA due to the traffic even a relatively short drive can turn into a long one timewise. As far as traffic I hate the place - everytime I've been there the traffic ends up stopped somewhere or other - even at weekends.

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            • #7
              Re: Taught my customer to change a water heater thermocouple and gas valve

              I don't have a problem with the thermocouple, I do have a problem with the gas valve. Advising the owner on the gas valve was irresponsible in my opinion.

              Mark
              "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

              I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Taught my customer to change a water heater thermocouple and gas valve

                he did the gas valve on his own. I walked him through the thermocouple on sunday. he called on Monday early evening that he removed the valve and replaced it, but had a hard time removing the flared adapter from the old valve. so he rigged up the unbolted vise and a cheater made from a dead flashlight. he had it changed on his own and needed advise on the flare adapter. of course I told him to soap test it too.

                sure he got wetter than me, as he tried to change the valve on the fly without draining the heater. but he managed to change it and have hot water that evening.

                my advise was safety. soap testing. he replaced the thermocouple first based on my diagnosis. pretty simple and cheap as it's the first part of the problem. when that didn't work, he tracked down the gas valve and installed it himself. so giving him free advise on what parts are bad and a tip on removing the flare fitting from the removed valve, plus soap testing was not something that required a sunday or Monday evening call. he did 100% on his own, knowing he could rely on me to bail him out if needed.

                he lives in a 3 million dollar home in the palisades. he has no problem spending money and does at his business every couple months. but to think he needed his hand held is not true. once again these parts are mailed out for free if they fail within 6 years.

                now if it was a newer Bradford heater gas valve that requires a factory tool to release the valve from the heater, then he would have needed a visit. the tool is tricky and needs tweaking to make it work. I've only done 3 and the first was pretty tricky.

                rick.
                phoebe it is

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Taught my customer to change a water heater thermocouple and gas valve

                  You can't justify your actions now.....Mark has spoken. Case closed.
                  Buy cheap, buy twice.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Taught my customer to change a water heater thermocouple and gas valve

                    I called mark to justify it. right in the middle of his breakfast.

                    case solved.

                    when the manufactures only sell to the trade, then there will be a reason to not give help. but I don't see that happening anytime.

                    now would you go out on a sunday with no gas valve to a very good customer and drive all over town or give him a pep talk and see that he did the job as good as any pro out there.

                    when I first met him probably 8 years ago, he used a so called contractor at his home and his business. after gaining his confidence after he got burned by his contractor, he no longer has anyone but me work at his building and has sued and won against the contractor at his house.

                    he's proud of himself for the fix and happy to have me as a friend. he also owns the property we went to last week to see the giraffe.

                    30 minutes ago I had a customers mother call to sch. an appointment with me Monday morning. the gas co. came out yesterday because they had been smelling a slight gas odor in their yard. of course the gas company couldn't isolate the leak and turned off their meter. so no hot water, or heat in the house. since Saturday and then today sunday. I didn't tell them to cut the riser off leading from the gas meter to their pool and bbq. but that's what i'm probably going to do tomorrow. are they qualified to do it themselves? no they're not, I know that and they know that. but how difficult would it had been for the gas co to leave the gas on for the weekend, knowing that this leak has been going on for months based on his gas bills. now they lock the meter and I can't even turn it on.

                    rick.
                    phoebe it is

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Taught my customer to change a water heater thermocouple and gas valve

                      Jedi Mark has spoken.

                      Case solved.

                      You are wrong.

                      Case closed.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Taught my customer to change a water heater thermocouple and gas valve

                        I would've given him 3 options.

                        -I'll take care of the whole thing on sunday or monday(depending on his choice)
                        -Have him track down the part and I'll install it that day (or Monday).
                        -(the one I recommend the most)I'll install a new water heater since most wh's don't last past the 8 year mark around here. Why inconvenience him twice?

                        You said it yourself he's a very good customer.....my good customers never inconvenience me. Not sure if you're illustrating this by your story.

                        I'm not above helping a homeowner try to fix their own work. I even posted about it. Mother of all Trades Forums • View topic - Faucet install....how long does it take? But even I have my limits and talking a customer to do gas is way above it.
                        Last edited by gear junkie; 12-15-2013, 03:28 PM.
                        Buy cheap, buy twice.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Taught my customer to change a water heater thermocouple and gas valve

                          LOL - this is getting serious if phone calls are involved. I'm not surprised at Mark's position based on his posts in the hire a pro threads. But clearly people have different abilities and while some may not be able to change out a faucet others can run gas lines, test for leaks and do gas calcs just fine. In this case the customer is known to Rick and I'm sure Rick can judge whether he is able to do the work or not. Whether you feel doing this is hitting you in the packet is a personal matter.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Taught my customer to change a water heater thermocouple and gas valve

                            I think Rick needs an intervention. First the sharkbites....now this gas valve? Anything else I'm missing? Rick is starting to lose it. If he keeps this up, he'll lose his corporate sponsorship.
                            Buy cheap, buy twice.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Taught my customer to change a water heater thermocouple and gas valve

                              Originally posted by blue_can View Post
                              LOL - this is getting serious if phone calls are involved. I'm not surprised at Mark's position based on his posts in the hire a pro threads. But clearly people have different abilities and while some may not be able to change out a faucet others can run gas lines, test for leaks and do gas calcs just fine. In this case the customer is known to Rick and I'm sure Rick can judge whether he is able to do the work or not. Whether you feel doing this is hitting you in the packet is a personal matter.
                              To some of us life, safety is still a serious issue. It was Rick who posted his customer is not a hands on kind of guy, not me. He also posted "his mistake was not unscrewing the gas flex adapter from the valve and then having to unwrench the adapter without a secondary back up wrench. so he used a bench vice that wasn't bolted down and an old mag light as a cheater for his old valve". Even a rookie like you should know all he had to do was thread the valve back in to the water heater to unscrew the adapter. I have not been in a service truck in 13-years so it doesn't hurt my pocket in any way. Instead I represent plumbers when they make mistakes like this. Can you imagine the liability if something had happened and the owner said the plumber talked me through it over the phone?

                              Mark
                              "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

                              I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

                              Comment

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