On the weekend I had to pick up a baby capsule and adaptor bracket that I bought on eBay to suit a new pram I have purchased that will seat a toddler and baby.
The lady I bought them off recognized me as the plumber from the QWeekend article written up in September. She asked how I was coping being pregnant and doing my duties as a plumber because I wouldn’t be able to touch the ‘poo’ stuff.
I explained that I didn’t unblock drains and her immediate response was “Well what do you do?” I smiled because it is a common misconception that plumbers get covered in poop and whizz all day, but while the effluent is a by-hazard of the job, generally most plumbers don’t get covered in it – in fact they try to avoid it where possible!
Unblocking drains has become a slightly specialized field as the jet-rodder machines can start from $15,000 upwards. Dad and I don’t get enough calls to warrant the need to purchase such a machine and therefore, have two reliable plumbers that do have the equipment and we get them to service our clients when needed.
So what do I do? Working with my Dad, we mainly specialize in domestic and commercial maintenance plumbing work so anything from fixing leaking toilets and taps to replacing them when they can’t be fixed. We also replace hot water units, fix water leaks from pipes whether they are in the walls or the ground, install new bathrooms and kitchens (piping in the walls and then fixtures after tiling has been done). A lot of the work is ‘clean’ and while sometimes it may seem easy, other times, dad and I really need to work together in problem solving why a particular plumbing issue occurs.
We do sometimes get our hands covered in other people’s poop. Especially if we are disconnecting toilets and replacing the connections for the new toilet pan. Sometimes my hands get covered in green slime (urine that has congealed and discoloured over time) when replacing toilet seats or unhinging them to get better access to fixing a toilet cistern. We go through LOADS of bottles of Dettol Hand Sanitizer and ensure that we always clean our hands after each and every job. Sometimes we do it twice. I sometimes do it three times for extra measure!!
It’s important to realize that plumbers are an essential service to the construction industry and the community. It’s equally important for plumbers to realize their worth too. If both consumers and plumbers understood how incredibly important holding a plumbing license is, we wouldn’t have so many plumbers pricing themselves cheaply in the marketplace and ultimately going broke because they have undervalued their skills and service.
I don’t underestimate my value or my dad’s. Our rates are our rates and if people choose to use a cheaper plumber they can, but I know that our rates are on par to what should be charged and in fact could even be a little higher due to our point of difference – my dad’s incredible 37 years of plumbing expertise and the fact that I am a female plumber. I don’t have enough fingers on my hand to count the number of times stay at home mums have rung us just because they want a female plumber at their house. For dad and I, we aren’t in the business of getting rich. We just charge enough to cover our expenses and wages.
At the moment while my dad is recuperating from a hip replacement and I am growing a baby (and a double chin and wobbly thighs!!), we haven’t been working, but the calls have come through and I am incredibly grateful to have a plumber on standby to assist us when needed. And with the heat wave that has hit Brisbane this week, it’s been a nice coincidence that both dad and I are temporarily out of action!