Seven Things I Learned Being a Plumber’s Son

Treat your plumber right, and an ounce of prevention will save you gallons of water on your basement floor, are a couple of things Zach Weinberg learned from being his father’s son.

During my younger years, I wasn’t always proud of what my father did for a living. In fact, there were many times I refused to let my father drive me to school in fear that the other students would see me getting out of his big blue plumbing truck. He wasn’t like the other dads in my neighborhood; he didn’t carry a suitcase to work, or wear a fancy suit to the office, or go on week-long business trips to countries halfway around the world. My father was, and still is, a plumber. And it wasn’t until I went away to college that I first realized just how much I had subconsciously learned from living with my old man for over 18 years. I may not be a second-generation plumber, but I’ll be damned if I don’t carry with me all the things I’ve learned growing up a plumber’s son.

1. If It Ain’t Broke (but it’s old as hell), FIX IT!

Any schmuck can wait until the day his four-year-old daughter runs upstairs from the basement screaming “WATER! WATER!” but why deal with 600 square feet of ruined carpeting and sopping wet beanbag chairs when you can fix the problem beforehand? Every homeowner should have an idea of how old the hot water heater is, whether they’re moving into a brand new home or a hundred-year-old museum. Most hot water heaters have a ten-year life span, so if you know for a fact that the massive, 75-gallon tank is about to turn double digits, do yourself a favor and call the plumber—it’ll save you money in the long run.

2. Never Question the Price

Whether it’s the plunging of a toilet or the remodeling of a master bathroom, never EVER question the price when the plumber hands you a bill. Just because plumbers don’t put on a shirt and tie everyday or spend their nine to five rotting away in a cubicle or office environment doesn’t mean they aren’t entitled to a decent living. And if it weren’t for these guys getting on all fours and sticking their hands and faces in some of the dirtiest and smelliest parts of your household, you would be in much bigger trouble than you already were. You can’t put a price tag on a job well done when it comes to plumbing. And yes, you should be prepared to shell out more dough if you have the plumber over in the middle of the night or on a holiday.

3. Don’t Try to Do It Yourself

Remember, you are not a plumber for a reason. You have city hands, boy! And that’s OK! We need fancy schmancy businessmen just as much as we need plumbers. You know why my father never does his own taxes? Because he’s not an accountant. Stick to what you know and call the plumber before you turn that leaky faucet into a flooded kitchen.

4. Do Not Watch Over the Plumber’s Shoulder

Do you stand behind the mechanic when he’s fixing your car’s engine? Do you venture to the top of the roof when the chimney cleaner is doing his job? Do you stand behind your child’s kindergarten teacher when they’re in the middle of teaching your kid the alphabet? Just because the plumber is doing the job under your roof, does not give you the right to stand over their shoulder and bother them. Don’t worry, the plumber isn’t going to ruin his reputation by stealing that cute five-dollar soap dispenser you just bought at Bed Bath and Beyond. Plumbers are men of their craft and they have no problem packing up the tools and heading home if they don’t feel comfortable. Unless you’re willing to fetch a tube cutter from the plumber’s truck, do not bombard the plumber with a million and one questions when they’re in the middle of fixing your toilet.

5. Offer a Glass of Water

Whether it’s a hundred-degree afternoon in the middle of August or a brutally cold February morning, always offer your plumber a glass of water. Nine times out of ten, a well-prepared plumber will carry their own jug or canteen and politely decline your offering. However, it’s common courtesy to offer a refreshing beverage to the person going elbow-deep in the doo-doo bowl. Offering your plumber a glass of water or a PB&J may save you a few bucks when you’re handed the bill.

6. Clean Up Before the Plumber Gets There

Plumbers are plumbers, not housekeepers. If you’ve called the plumber over because the sink in your kids’ bathroom is spewing out water, do yourself (and the plumber) a favor and clean out all the crap you have in and around the sink before the plumber gets there. Time is of the essence when dirty sewage water is hemorrhaging throughout your home, so make the plumber’s job just a tad bit easier by cleaning the work space before your knight in shining armor arrives to fix the day.

7. Do Not Ask the Plumber to Take Off Their Shoes

If you insist on the plumber taking off their shoes, that’s fine. Just make sure you have your lawyer on your speed dial for when the plumber slips down a flight of stairs carrying a fifty-pound bucket of tools.


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Image credit: Steve Snodgrass/Flickr

About Zach Weinberg

Zach Weinberg is currently perfecting his role as full-time boyfriend and part-time writer. Zach can often be found on a Central Park bench eating pizza and giving the stink-eye to the runners in dolphin shorts. He spends most of his time writing about the constant struggles and hardships he faces as a twenty-something caucasian living on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. You can read more of his work at


  1. Honestly Zach- a great little fun piece…
    I suspect that for most of the readers here
    crescent wrench must be a misspelling of the description of the waitress in a french bakery

  2. 3.1 if you tried it and screwed it up, own it, don’t blame your brother-in-law
    8- put the dog in the back yard & the toddlers at your mother’s.

    • Great call on putting the dog away. I must have crapped my pants a thousand times upon hearing the barking of a dog every time I went to do a job with my old man.

  3. Nick, mostly says:

    I violate #3 all the time. Unless you’re the building inspector, in which case I am just kidding, I always call a licensed plumber and pipe fitter.


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