Don’t Let This Happen To You

This video is worth thousands of words to describe what can happen when someone opts for cheap and sloppy plumbing. We’re a bit embarrassed – though faultless – to admit that it happened in the home of our company’s owner, Eric Dutton. Here’s the story.

Eric bought the house shown in the video last year, something of a dream home for him and his family. It included a sizable addition of a couple of bedrooms and baths put in by the previous owners in 2010.

Eric’s wife, a police officer, got up at 3:30 a.m. to prepare for her shift. Eric was awakened by her blood-curdling shriek, yelling to her husband: “It’s a disaster! Don’t have a heart attack!” The video shows what she saw.

All that water accumulated in an hour and a half or less, based on the fact that their son arrived home around 2 a.m. and saw nothing amiss. The extent of the damage vividly illustrates what can happen when household water pressure (typically at least 45 pounds per square inch) springs loose. The source of the problem was a broken flexible hose connection, which supplies water to a toilet in a bathroom that was part of the aforementioned renovation.

Eric’s forensic examination pinpointed a broken nut at the point where the hose connects the house’s main water supply to a shutoff valve, which when left open lets water fill the toilet tank. A cheap plastic nut was overtightened. This was not part of the toilet itself, which was of high quality. It was a component supplied by the plumber who did the installation. Like so many plumbers who get hired in low-bid situations, he decided to save a few pennies by using one of the cheap connectors that get sold by the gazillions at home center plumbing departments. Then he compounded that bad decision by exerting too much elbow grease.

This was a subtle construction flaw and easily overlooked, even by an experienced master plumber like Eric Dutton. Of course he inspected the plumbing before he bought the home, but how many people, even a professional like him, would examine every nut at every connection in a plumbing system. That oversight led to a grand total of $45,000 worth of damage (most of which was covered by home insurance).

What can you do to prevent something like this from occurring in your home? First of all, realize that in plumbing as anything else, you get what you pay for. If you shop around for the lowest priced plumber and the lowest priced plumbing products, you leave yourself vulnerable to myriad things that can go wrong.

We at Dutton Plumbing provide only top-notch, professional-caliber plumbing parts and equipment, some of which are available only to plumbing professionals.

You won’t see us buying stuff off the shelf at Home Depot. And, we train our technicians to think of worst-case scenarios when they perform service calls and inspections. We don’t force our customers to buy anything they don’t want to buy, but we’ll give them our best professional advice on what will provide the best protection and performance for their money.

Second, realize that preventive maintenance is the best way to assure that little things – like a cheap plastic nut – don’t grow into major problems. That’s why we have hundreds of households enrolled in our Family Service Plans, which provide for annual inspections of all household plumbing systems. Think of it like an insurance policy – you pay a little once a year to avoid a potentially catastrophic expense down the road. Our Family Service Plan customers also enjoy discounted service rates, priority scheduling and other perks.

Most plumbing company owners would be too sheepish to reveal their own plumbing mishaps. Eric Dutton is sharing his experience to remind everyone that if it could happen to him, it could happen to anyone.