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Opinions on Fixing the low bidders boiler...

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  • bmwpowere36m3
    bmwpowere36m3 Member Posts: 512
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    icesailor said:

    When I go to buy at a legitimate supply house, and the DIY'ers have precedence over their commercial customers that pay their way, I'll be taking my business elsewhere. To someone who wants and appreciates my business.

    I think a supply house should be able to sell to anyone who pays... however I don't expect them to give me a discount as they do with their contractors.

    Problem with the big box stores is they don't carry a big enough selection of items or quality parts.
    icesailor
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    I don't know how prevelant it is across all supply houses but the ones I patronize usually have a "Will Call" and/or Contractor counter for the Pro's and a retail counter for those of us who still need our parts.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    edited February 2015
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    Mark N said:

    Ice, it's now 2015 according to my calendar. There have been huge shifts in how business is conducted. Either change with it or you're out of business. Also this little thing called the internet was invented. There no longer are any secrets. Your local supply house is in competition with some big players. Much is available on line with free shipping to boot. Also aren't you retired now?

    Just because I am retired, doesn't mean that I have to forget about the business.

    Go into a well stocked supply house and find the oddball things you need. Use the working experience of the counterguys. Go on the Internet and talk to some guy with a VDT and a keyboard about some odd, needed part or some technical question. They can't answer it. So you order something totally wrong. He sends a request into some Internet Clearing House like Amazon.com, who sends the order in to some other Internet provider.

    Some of you guys may think I am full of schitt when I explain my experiences with problem solving. They worked, they were my experiences, and the solutions didn't come from some guy on the end of an Internet Connection.

    Kohler toilets require very specific parts to work properly and meet Federal water standards. You can NOT buy the proper toilet parts at Lowes or Home Depot. Most people turn a 1.3 GPF toilet into a 3.5 GPF toilet with the wrong flappers and the wrong ones usually leak from the beginning.

    That Internet Terminal Link will not put the boiler in the basement and take the old one out for you. My wholesaler would if I had it ready to be removed.

    When I retired, all that I learned didn't flow out of my brain. I still have some there. Order a Porcelain French Farmers sink by Portia over the Internet, Have it come smashed. Deal with the carrier who denies responsibility for something you already paid for with a credit card. Tie up your money while you get another one. Order the same sink from my wholesaler. He orders it from some Internet Wholesaler. It comes smashed. I don't pay for it until I get a good one. The wholesaler deals with the carrier and the insurance. I also have 30 days to pay for it when it comes.

    Where do you buy your bread and butter items from? Lowes and Homey? They never have want I need. And they don't inventory enough for me to adapt to what will work. In the age of specialization, maybe you only work on one thing. I never knew what I might be doing from one day to the next or in an hour. I might start something and get a call for no water. A Submersible water pump has died. I have to go get a pump, my puller pipe, the fittings I need, new wire and connectors. clamps, tape, and be sure that I had what I needed. I needed the same pump. I didn't stock $400.00 well pumps for emergencies. I went to the supply house that had them inventoried. And any and all parts I needed. In an hour, I could be pulling a pump for replacement. How long for that Internet Provider to FED-EX overnight a new pump, when I had a new one in less than an hour?

    I used these 5/16" two piece closet bolts. You never have to go get the hacksaw to cut them off, They are adjustable. They cost slightly more, but at $1.00 per minute, its stupid not to use them. The other night, the TV plumber was showing a Homey how to change a toilet. Using long, regular 1/4" closet bolts. All I could think about was marring the porcelain with the end of the hacksaw. You can't find them on the Internet. Maybe they have them at Ferguson, 5+ miles away. They don't have them at Norland. a mile away. My son is sending me some from Massachusetts. I tried The Google on "Two Piece Closet Bolts". No response.

    I bought and installed Moen faucets for years. I bought two from Lowes and two porcelain sings. The drains both rusted from the iron in the water. Cheap polished stainless steel. The ones that Moen and Kohler used to sell at legitimate plumbing supply houses were solid brass and chrome plated. You can't buy chrome plated brass bathroom accessories like towel bars. They are chrome plated steel. They pit and rust. Turn to schitt in two years. I guess that's progress. Or the price you pay for junk.

    You work what works for you.

  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
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    The Internet has democratized access to information, resulting in a race to the bottom for everything. Supply houses are getting clobbered by the big online retailers (though to be fair, many have opened their own.) The US distribution chain has resisted all efforts by manufacturers to restrict sales to qualified installers -- boosted by the FTC and the threat of a dreaded constraint of trade lawsuit.

    It's a very sticky wicket. One of the few solutions I have seen that works is to offer extended or enhanced warranties on products at drastically reduced prices -- when the product is installed by a trained, approved contractor. The same extended warranty is available to anyone, but at a much higher price. Even voiding warranties is dicey -- a pissed off customer with knowledge of the Magnusson-Moss Act can probably get around that strategy for cases where the installation did not actually cause the failure.
    icesailor
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    Actually, I'm somewhat appalled by some of the reactions I'm reading here. We seem to be forgeting that not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to pay for parts and have a contractor do the work for us. If a homeowner is willing to do the hard labor to make improvements and do the home repairs necessary to maintain their homes, we should appauld that. Deferred maintenance is exactly why we have so many of our historic treasures in the hands of the wrecking ball, and I might add, so many of our steam systems in the hands of back alley butchers. Deferred maintenance is a very slippery slope from which many can't recover.
  • Robert O'Connor_12
    Robert O'Connor_12 Member Posts: 728
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    Wow!
    With all this cold weather work, I haven't checked back.
    alotta' action on this thread...
    The update is........I gave him the price with open ended proposal. 75% $$ up front. No guarantee!
    Should start next week some time.

    In regards to all the discussion: Years ago, we marked up material and made a profit. Now, property owners are allowed to purchase equipment. This IS now the world we live in. Heck, when we did the Arena in Newark, we would of made $XXX,XXXX (yes, 6 of them, and it doesn't start with a 1) just on the mark of the roof top units. But the owners now purchase it on most jobs. As far as homeowners go..
    There is nothing to prevent an owner occupied homeowner from doing any or ALL work themselves. I have no problem with homeowners doing there own work. I do however have an issue with MULTI family property owners doing there own. That's against code and is unsafe! As far as owners of commercial properties go.....let them!
    I'm finding that I make more with less hassle.
    ChrisJicesailor
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    edited February 2015
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    Keep us posted @Robert O'Connor I'm interested in what you had to do to get it as near right as possible.
  • GW
    GW Member Posts: 4,701
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    Still waiting for a comment from Robert!!!

    Ice, why are you bustin on the home owners? Let's let equilibrium do its job, and supply and demand chart our course. May the strong tradesman succeed and become wealthy, and may the clueless fumble along and be the rear end of our industry.

    Many people will only hire bottom feeders. Some people would not call the non-pro if it was their last hope. Most people are in the middle. Once a HO gets bitten once, they generally move up the ladder and decide it's better to pay once than two or three times. YOU CAN NOT control that, that's the beauty of this great land, we all have many choices.

    The trades have taken a back seat, I'm a discouraged with all the plumber jokes I hear on TV, all the negative connotations. Every time you see some pudgy mans butt crack you hear the word "plumber" in there somewhere. People wonder why they can't find a good plumber....hmmm, maybe don't complain over every little thing, don't expect some full blown warranty with your lame 40 year old faucet, pay your silly bill with a smile.

    Mark N is right, it's not the 80's anymore. Not one person is guaranteed anything in this life here is USA, just some taxation, and your right to pursue happiness.

    The landlord Robert is talking with- I'm curious how things are going there.
    Gary Wilson
    Wilson Services, Inc
    Northampton, MA
    gary@wilsonph.com
    ChrisJ
  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,801
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    Hi all. This site covers the entire country. Maas. falls under N f p a 2012...and our own plumbing code that we have to follow by law...it also has rules/laws that protect the public..as well it should...We post accordingly....never an intent to offend anyone...I appreciate guys like ice. They helped preserve our industry... And carry with them a wealth of knowledge...and ice is willing to share...he states his opinion. I at 62 am as stubborn as anyone...this site is designed to help. Hence the name heating help...not for one to outdo and belittle others...as I do tend to see from certain people....take the good advise offered and run with it....as u feel....
  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,801
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    A picture is worth a thousand words. But an on site visit is worth 100000 words...
    SWEI
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,889
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    We have to draw a line somewhere. A good place might be making anything involving combustion pro-only. The reason being that any pro worthy of the name will have combustion test equipment and the know-how to use it.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    Robert O'Connor_12icesailor
  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,801
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    I could not agree more....
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,776
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    I installed my system, and had a combustion analysis done.

    So how is that rule fair to me?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,479
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    I do all my own steam work but I leave the combustion side to pro's with the right equipment

    You had the combustion checked by a pro with the equipment, I can't see why something like this would effect you.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,801
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    System or boiler? And did u get a print out of the results
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    Steamhead said:

    We have to draw a line somewhere. A good place might be making anything involving combustion pro-only. The reason being that any pro worthy of the name will have combustion test equipment and the know-how to use it.

    That's seems like just another way of saying anyone who wants to install/repair their heating systems can't do it. I still disagree, especially with all the poor installations we've seem on this site completed by licensed contractors. Let the Pro's that go in a fix those botched up jobs report the offending contractor and let the local Housing Inspection Authority take action to ensure those contractors install every future job by the manufacturer's recommendations or better or three strikes, you're out. No longer licensed to do business in that juristiction. That's the way to make permitting viable and Installation Contractors accountable.


  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,479
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    I've never installed a boiler - no time when I was working and I'm to long in the teeth for that now and have some physical ailments that would pretty much make it impossible.

    If something needs replacing I buy the part and replace it. The good thing is that with a steam system things don't stop working often. A simple system is usually a reliable system.

    I get a printout when a combustion test is run.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    MarkS said:

    Fred said:

    That's seems like just another way of saying anyone who wants to install/repair their heating systems can't do it.

    I'm not sure that's what Steamhead is saying. I look at it like this: a boiler block isn't combustion, and steam piping isn't combustion. If we as HO's want to do that ourselves, let us knock ourselves out. Noone's family is likely to be put at risk because they screwed up their drop header. The gas (or oil) piping, the burner and ignition controls, that's combustion, and should be left to a qualified pro.
    Still doesn't work for me. I'm not going to spend $1000.00 for a good water heater and then spend another $500.00 to $700.00 to have someone spend two hours installing it when I can do it myself. Same with other gas appliances. If I have to have it inspected, I'm OK with that but it should not matter if it is installed by the HO or a Contractor as long as it is properly installed. I'm even OK if the requirement is that I have to pay a reasonable fee for a combustion analysis either through a contractor who is willing to offer that service or as part of the inspection process/through pubic utility.
    At the end of the day, there is only so much money to go around, both for the HO and the Contractor. I need mine as much as he/she needs theirs. Not trying to be difficult, it just the way it is.
  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,801
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    So maybe there should be a section where homeowners advise homeowner's. You install it you own it
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    j a said:

    So maybe there should be a section where homeowners advise homeowner's. You install it you own it

    We own it regardless of who installed it.
    ChrisJ
  • JStar
    JStar Member Posts: 2,752
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    If it gets inspected, anybody can install it. Inspections should require combustion test results.
    ChrisJCanucker
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    JStar said:

    If it gets inspected, anybody can install it. Inspections should require combustion test results.

    That I can agree with 100%
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,776
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    j a said:

    System or boiler? And did u get a print out of the results

    To be exact, I installed all of my gas piping and boiler.

    @Jstar did the combustion analysis.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,801
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    Hopefully not in Massachutes
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,776
    edited February 2015
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    j a said:

    Hopefully not in Massachutes

    No, like I said I'd never live in a state with those rules.
    A combustion analysis was not required to pass code.

    I wanted it done because it seemed like a good idea.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
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    Fred said:

    Keep us posted @Robert O'Connor I'm interested in what you had to do to get it as near right as possible.

    Most likely, the original owner had realized how bent over he had made himself, everyone else was clueless, and intelligence and being able to explain the problems saved the day.

    If you are going to have a business. you have costs and overhead. It isn't the ceiling. If you want to do work and get paid, you have to put the tools in the truck and tell others what to do. All those hands at the table need to be fed. You have to manufacturer enough revenue to fill the plated that those little hands are reaching for.

    If a customer is a manager at IBM, don't even think that he will cut you some slack on a new system. You have no idea what the margins are for an auto dealership. There's no money tree outback among all the wrecked cars to shake for cash. Even the guy who comes in after 4:00 PM and sweeps the floor gets paid from the proceeds of new car sales. Repairs break even.

    I took my car in last week for an issue. I could not believe all the employees in the building. All busy, and all being paid off car sales. Everyone had a job, a specific skill, and was being paid. The new and used cars on the lot were in the MILLIONS!. There was a car on the floor, an electric one that had a list price of $147,000. It wasn't sitting there for free, as gratis from the manufacturer.

    Good on you to have stuck to your guns and get to do it right.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
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    icesailor said:

    You have no idea what the margins are for an auto dealership.

    Actually, I have a precise idea of exactly what the margins are in a new car dealership.

    They are far less than you allude and the used cars and the paid repairs are carrying the day.

    If you ask, I will tell you what they are for a Mercedes dealership.........down to the last dollar.
    Well, the Mercedes and every exotic foreign dealer I was at had an enormous number of employees. More than any dealer I have ever seen. They all have to be fed with a paycheck. They even had separate "Genius's" to teach you how to operate all the electronics for those that can't read and understand owners manual.

    I will say this. If plumbing and heating businesses were run like new car auto dealerships, prices would be far more competitive and there wouldn't be so many bankruptcy's.

    Maybe that's why there is so much consolidation of new car dealerships and plumbing & heating wholesalers. Big fish eating the little.

  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
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    Auto dealers and plumbing wholesalers share at least one thing in common: The nominal dealer cost and the net end of year dealer cost are quite different. There's big money in the performance incentives/rebates that are paid at the end of the quarter or fiscal year. Translation: Smaller independents get screwed.

    Few car dealers actually own the new cars on their lots, BTW.
    icesailor
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
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    All dealer discounts are taken from the MSRP. No one knows what deals and incentives the manufacturer gets from the manufacturers or how they floor plan the cars. Really successful dealers don't floor plan all their cars. Every item is factored in.

    How many plumbers/heaters factor in the employees stopping off for coffee on their way to the job?
  • Weezbo
    Weezbo Member Posts: 6,232
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    Wow. Robert, i am sad for what you have described happened.
    go with Steamhead on this one. I hope you never have to be the rescue team on another deal like this. As you have already done the work for an equitable proposal, hand it to him again,and say that it does not include removal of the non functioning equipment that now exists or the repairs to the field side piping rads etc.
    That way , you can maybe get a service call out of it and keep things from becoming abusive .
    I am feeling sorta sick right now.
    Weezbo.
  • ProblemSolver
    ProblemSolver Member Posts: 190
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    Quite interesting. The HO took the cheap way out; and to think the HO may be interasted in paying Robert for his knowledge to make it right which would mean the HO is interested in paying out more, when this is all done, than he would have if he just hired Robert at first. A skunk cannot change its colors. I most defiantly get paid in full up front. Then you will see just how committed the HO is to correcting his mistake.
  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,801
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    Quite interesting. The HO took the cheap way out; and to think the HO may be interasted in paying Robert for his knowledge to make it right which would mean the HO is interested in paying out more, when this is all done, than he would have if he just hired Robert at first. A skunk cannot change its colors. I most defiantly get paid in full up front. Then you will see just how committed the HO is to correcting his mistake.

    ce again, shame on the h/o for not doing his/her homework…Its all so available to them right here on the internet these days..
  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,801
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    oh well