Good Plumbers

Plumbing has always been a mystery to me. When I’ve tried my hand at it, inevitably something starts on fire. Or I end up driving a nail through a copper pipe and destroying the ceiling in the kitchen below me. I suppose I feel about the black art of plumbing pretty much the same as most civilians feel about the black are of website construction.

The episode which best illustrates this point is when we purchased a new pedestal sink for our old house in Kingston. Unable to figure out how to mount and plumb the sink ourselves, we left it sitting on the bathroom floor for 3 months and brushed our teeth in the kitchen sink.

It wasn’t that we couldn’t get a plumber to come and install it, it’s that 30 years of Dick Van Dyke Show reruns had us convinced that plumbers were very, very, very expensive. If you’d asked me at that point, I would have estimated, say, $600 to install a sink.

Finally we just had to up and call a plumber. “We’ll just pay the $600,” I said to myself. So we called up to Bobby Clow’s Store and asked them to recommend someone. As luck would have it, Don’s Plumbing was located just across the road from Bobby’s, and Don’s wife worked in the store. So Don came with a high recommendation.

And Don was great. He had spent a lot of time plumbing up our house over the years, and knew the system well. Over the 6 years we spent in Kingston, he performed innumerable miracles for us: installed a washer, moved a drain, fixed the pump, fixed the shower. And installed the sink. Don was friendly, highly skilled, and able to improvise when situations demanded it. Once Catherine went up to Bobby’s store looking for a shutoff cap for our outdoor tap; Bobby asked her to hold on for a second and ran across the road to Don’s, found what we needed, and brought it back. No charge.

Then we moved into town. Our plumbing needs are considerably greater here, as we not only have the usual sinks and toilets, but also hot water heating. When we rearranged our master bathroom last summer, we got to meet our second great plumber, Cecil Thomas.

We’ve met a lot of great tradespeople over the last couple of years (Herb and his guys from Meadowlaine, Herb’s drywall guy, Larry and his guys from ServiceMaster, Larry’s drywall guy), but Cecil stands out from the crowd. He is simply a great plumber and a terrific guy. He listens. He’s a master problem solver (especially useful in our ragtag old house). He’s a great technician. If we call he’s usally here within hours. And he’s just an all around nice guy.

So we’ve had good luck with plumbers, and while what they actually do still remains something of a black art, at least we’re not afraid to call them anymore.

And the sink? Don charged us $28 to install it.

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