Plumbing the Depths

What is it about plumbers?  Are they a different species to the rest of us?  It’s not that I dislike them as people.  I’ve met some really nice blokes who work as plumbers and they’re nice as pie, but for some reason, whenever the idea of hiring their services raises its ugly head, the hairs on the back of my neck bristle even before the conversation begins.  What it all boils down to is “Why do they all charge so much?”

I’ve done a fair bit of plumbing in my time, having almost single-handedly renovated a nineteenth-century farmhouse that was on its last legs a fewPlumbing the Depthsyears back.  I am perfectly competent with a blowlamp, end-feed, compression fittings, push-fit, ptfe, bottle traps, isolation valves etc.etc.  However, being the law-abiding citizen I am, I still employ the services of a plumber when it comes to Gas.

We had a quote yesterday to replace our ageing Glowworm central heating boiler.  It has given 37 years of sterling service, but I’m sure it is now pumping more heat into the atmosphere than it is into our house, so being summer, and having anticipated the expenditure for some time now, we have decided to take the plunge and replace it with something a little more efficient.   Initial checks confirm that pipework is all according to current regulations regarding diameter and pipe runs from meter to boiler.

Task list:

1.  Isolate gas supply
2.  Drain-down primary system to allow disconnection
3. Disconnect 2 water pipes, 1 gas pipe and 1 electrical supply
4. Loosen flue collar and remove flue pipe
5. Remove old boiler from wall mount and remove mount frame
6. Mark-up wall for new boiler mount
7. Drill and hang new boiler mount
8. Extend/shorten/re-route existing water and gas pipes to fit new boiler
9. Hang new boiler
10. Connect 2 water pipes, 1 gas pipe and mains supply cable and one condensate drain pipe
11. Trim new flue to appropriate length and connect at appropriate angle to horizontal
12. Fill, treat and bleed primary water circuit
13. Reinstate gas supply
14. Leak-check water and gas connections
15. Electrically bond all incoming pipework
16. Function test and adjust cycle time
17. Fill in GasSafe appliance registration form and post to register
18. Make good masonry around flue

My best estimation would be around 3-4 hours if done single-handedly, maybe even 5 if a few stubborn bolts and fittings were found.  No conversion to a Combi circuit, no changes of pipework, no relocation, just disconnect boiler 1 and connect boiler 2 in the same place.

So why, oh why were we quoted over £500 for labour alone?  Are we the stupid ones here for not accepting the fact that a plumber should be paid more pro-rata than our prime minister?  I think it is because I’m not a virgin when it ccomes to some of the ‘trades’, being confident in most DIY tasks myself.

I therefore resent paying someone who has “THE RIGHT” to carry out what are essentially quite straightforward tasks, but which ‘for safety’s sake’ have to be done by them so that someone can be blamed if things go wrong.  I am just as capable of reading all the appropriate regulation and browsing through the myriad of ‘best practice’ advice and carrying the post-work checks as any plumber out there, but because I’m not a member of the Elite, I’m not allowed to do anything.

Perhaps it’s a case of ‘More Fool Me’ for not being a plumber myself.  I actually even considered it as an option myself on one occasion, but when I began to realise the level of public resentment at their universal rip-off culture, I decided that my dignity was more important to me.  Im more proud than greedy unfortunately.  I know this rant won’t change any plumbers’ ways, as it is so institutionalised now, but if one more Mercedes-driving smart-arse of a plumber tries to quote me labour rates of over £100 per hour, I’ll stick my own blowlamp where the lower explosive limit is nigh-on critical and I’ll make sure it’s thoroughly fluxed first!

Come on guys!  I welcome a comment from any plumbers out there who can honestly put their hands on their heart and say that they charge a fair hourly rate for the work they do.  You might even get some work out of me in the future.

Mr C

Mr C
Dad to 2 grown-up boys and 3 lovely stepdaughters, I'm Mrs C's right-hand man when it comes to keeping the blog and site up and running, maintaining the home and everything within it and cooking the perfect poached eggs for her. I enjoy a good weekend away, a good film on the telly and a good restaurant. I enjoy a good rant when things aren't up to expectation or are playing on my mind.

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