Kevin Korte, owner of Edmonton-based Butler Plumbing, is our guest in this episode. Progressing through his plumbing apprenticeship, Kevin was a journeyman for three years before deciding to start his own business. Now 15 years in business, he shares some worthwhile plumbing and heating tips!
[1:27] What are some common issues you get called for after someone has bought a home?
- A lot of them will come down to the main sewer drain. We have to go in, auger it out, and clear it.
- It’s important to look at the drain when buying a house. Some house inspectors can do this, but usually, it’s better to have a plumber check it out.
- Houses in Edmonton built in the 50s sometimes use interesting material in their drainage lines. These pipes can collapse over time.
- We also get a lot of calls to repair fixtures and faucets.
- We do a lot of water softening as well. The water in our area is very hard, and that can really decrease the life of your hot water tank.
[8:07] Is there any preventative maintenance to make the tank last longer?
- Starting with a new tank, flushing the drain periodically at the bottom can help get some of the scale out.
- One of the biggest things for maintenance is keeping the air intake clean.
[10:30] I would imagine that one major call you get is related to back flow valves. If the city has issues, things can start backing up in someone’s basement.
- Any plumbing fixture below street level needs to have protection.
- It can be expensive depending on where the valve needs to go. It always involves breaking concrete.
[12:41] If I’m buying a house, are there types of pipes that I should be cautious about?
- Poly-B. It’s grey and pretty noticeable.
- We’ve seen some houses with Poly-B and no issues. However, if you’re buying a house with it, budget having to change it out just in case.
- Another big thing is water damage that can be out of sight, like behind walls, caused by damaged weeping tiles.
[18:20] What are some of the horror stories you’ve worked on lately?
- The most common horror story is a renovation that wasn’t done properly.
- I feel bad for people who buy a house not knowing it wasn’t put together properly. One thing leads to the next.
- The best advice is to ask if a permit was done. If there wasn’t, I’d be asking a lot of questions.
[20:21] Is there anything we should talk about that I haven’t mentioned?
- Another big part of our business is boiler or hydronic systems.
- A lot of the time, home inspectors don’t have a lot of experience with these. We can do a separate inspection for them.
- Without doing annual boiler maintenance, there’s a potential for carbon monoxide. Replacement costs can also get crazy.
[22:39] What do people need to be aware of when buying acreage properties?
- You might have a few extra components, but they’re usually pretty straightforward.
- Maintenance is important here too.
[25:37] Are there any things to be aware of when it comes to condos?
- You need to get approval from your board if you’re doing a renovation beyond the paint on the walls.
- The type of piping you need to use in a high rise is not the typical piping you find in a hardware store.
[27:40] How would you go about selecting a plumber?
- Word of mouth. Everybody knows someone who had to use a plumber at some point.
- Having both great service and huge knowledge can be hard to find.
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Edmonton, AB T6E 5P5, Canada
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