Your Spring Plumbing Checklist

Your springtime plumbing checklist in Portland OR & Vancouver WA - D & F Plumbing

Your springtime plumbing checklist in Portland OR & Vancouver WA - D & F PlumbingSpring has sprung, but hopefully a leak hasn’t! With the warmer weather rolling in, it’s time to tackle that to-do list that’s been piling up all winter – and that includes taking a look at your plumbing system. To make sure your system is in great shape for the new season, go through this spring plumbing checklist:

Check for Leaks & Clogs

Winter can wreak havoc on your plumbing system – particularly on the pipes or fixtures that are located outdoors or near external walls. To make sure nothing is leaking and causing damage throughout your home, it’s a good idea to check around your property for any leaks or clogs. If you notice any issues, a professional plumber can help identify and fix the root cause of the problem while preventing any further damage to your home.

Change Your Hoses

While you’re checking your pipes and fixtures for leaks or damage, you can also take a look at the condition of your hoses. Check the hoses to your dishwasher, washing machine, fridge, and other appliances. Keep an eye out for any bulging or discoloration in addition to leaking and cracks. You or a professional can replace any damaged or worn out hoses to keep your appliances functioning flawlessly.

Clean Your Storm Drains

If your storm drains are clogged, you could face some serious flooding during springtime rain. Taking the time to remove any leaves, sticks, or other debris from your storm drains will keep things flowing properly, which will protect your property while preventing other issues like soil erosion. If you run into serious blockages or drainage issues, then it may be useful to invest in an outdoor drain cleaning service to keep everything in good working order.

Test Your Sump Pump

Your sump pump plays a big role in preventing basement flooding, particularly during times of heavy rain. That’s why spring is the perfect time of year to check in on your sump pump and make sure it’s functioning properly. To test your sump pump, first look to make sure that it’s plugged in correctly. Then, pour a bucket of water into the basin to see if the pump is able to clear it. If your sump pump is unable to clear the water, or you notice any signs of moisture issues in your basement, then it may be time to contact a professional.

Adjust Your Water Heater

Water heaters get a lot of use in the cold winter months, which is why spring is the perfect time of year to perform any maintenance and check in on your system. An expert can flush your tank while also screening for any potential issues to make sure yours is working wonderfully for the new season. Now is also a good time to turn down the temperature, which will save you money during the spring and summer.

What is the Best Toilet Paper for Your Drains?

Toilet paper roll - D & F Plumbing in Vancouver WA and Portland OR

Toilet paper - D & F Plumbing - Vancouver WA & Portland ORLet’s be totally honest here. Toilet paper (T.P.) is something we all use and need. You only have to look back to the shelter-in-crisis moments as the global pandemic took hold in the spring of 2020. Nearly half of all grocery stores in the United States were out of stock of toilet paper on April 19.

Now that there are plenty of rolls available, you may be wondering what type of T.P. is best when it comes to your drains. Our plumbing experts have some excellent recommendations.

The Disintegration Of Paper To Water

There are all kinds of toilet paper you can buy, but the most important factor to consider is the disintegration of paper to water or the speed it takes to dissolve.

If the T.P. you use in your home is very slow at breaking down, then a potential clog could arise over time as the paper gets stuck in the pipes.

A clogged system in the bathroom is no fun and happens more often than you think. You want to escape, but there’s no place to hide, right?

One-Ply, Two-Ply Or More; Does It Matter?

The “ply” refers to the thickness of each sheet, for example. A single-ply or 1-ply toilet paper is economical and effective for septic systems because it breaks down much faster than a 2-ply or 3-ply toilet paper even when more paper is used.

A 3-ply is known for being a plush and pricey toilet paper, and experts who have researched how toilet paper sheets all dissolve have found that the 3-ply is not a good performer. In fact, when 3-ply sheets are removed from water in a test, they remain fully intact and thick with water.

A 2-ply sheet of T.P. contains a double layer of paper and is soft and absorbent, but it, too, can cause a clogged septic system in older units or where there’s no flush or low water flow circumstances.

Best Toilet Paper Brands For Your Drains

Of course, the T.P. you prefer is up to you, but here are two high-performing brands:

Scott 1000: This is an amazing 1-ply toilet paper that dissolves faster than the rest and still performs better even if you use more sheets.

Angel Soft: For a 2-ply roll of T.P., this brand is effective at disintegrating quickly and offering a soft texture quality.

Experts in Drains

In conclusion, buy toilet paper that’s not only soothing for your tushy, but that’s also easily dissolvable. And if you ever have trouble with your toilet backing up, and a new toilet paper isn’t the cause, contact D & F Plumbing. We’ve been serving the drain cleaning needs in the Portland and Vancouver area since 1927. Trust us, we know our stuff!

Why Winterizing Your Plumbing is Important

Frozen pipes in Vancouver WA - D & F Plumbing

Frozen pipes in Vancouver WA - D & F PlumbingLeaves are turning yellow, the air is getting crisp, and thoughts of holiday festivities fill your mind. While your children are dreaming of gingerbread cookies and a visit from Santa, you get a visit from a much less desirable guest – a giant waterfall sprouting in your basement!

The last thing you want to worry about during the holiday season is a major plumbing disaster. However, without proper precautions, the cold of winter could lead to leaky pipes and a swampy house. Since water expands when it freezes, low temperatures can wreak havoc on your plumbing system. Damaged plumbing can lead to:

  • Flooding throughout your home. Cascading water might be a beautiful sight on a hike, but it isn’t so pretty when it’s coming out of your basement ceiling. However, flooding is a pretty common consequence of a broken pipe, especially if the damage isn’t caught early.
  • Structural instability. As water flows over your foundation or through your walls, it can cause cracks or warping that may make your home structurally unsafe. This kind of damage can pose a huge safety hazard for your family, and it is often costly to repair.
  • Mold growth and health issues. Even if you don’t like mold at first, it’ll really grow on you (ba-dum tss!). But in all seriousness, mold is a fungus fueled by moisture, and it can result in serious health issues – particularly for those with respiratory issues or allergies.
  • A high water bill. Unfortunately, the water leaking out of your pipes often comes with a price tag. Between the water bill and the repair costs, flooding can be hugely expensive.

How to Winterize Your Plumbing

To avoid a visit from the dreaded basement waterfall, it’s important to winterize your plumbing before the cold sets in. That way, you can relax during the holidays instead of worrying about a burst pipe. And, this process doesn’t have to be difficult! Here are a few easy steps to winterize your plumbing:

  1. Shut off water to your outdoor faucets. The shut-off valve may be located inside, such as in your basement or crawlspace. Once you locate the valve, simply turn off the water to any outdoor faucets.
  2. Drain water from the outdoor faucets. Once the water is shut off, open the faucet to drain water from the pipes and hose. Roll up and store your hose indoors to keep it in good condition. Then, leave the faucet open so any water can flow out with ease.
  3. Insulate any exposed pipes. Fiberglass covers, heat tape, and other forms of pipe insulation can help prevent freezing. This step is especially important for any pipes that will still carry water during winter.

Professional Plumbing Winterization

If you have a complicated plumbing system or you want to be 100% sure that your pipes are perfectly protected for the winter, it may help to call a professional. That’s where the experts at D & F Plumbing can help! Serving the Portland metropolitan and SW Washington area, our experienced plumbing professionals can help keep your pipes safe and sound without the hassle. Contact us today to schedule a winterization!

Why is My Basement Flooding?

Flooded basement-D & F Plumbing, serving Portland OR & Vancouver WA explains why your basement may be flooding.

Flooded basement-D & F Plumbing, serving Portland OR & Vancouver WA explains why your basement may be flooding.It’s been months since you’ve been in your basement. But after watching hours upon hours of HGTV, you’re finally feeling inspired to get down there and organize it once and for all.

You begin walking down the steps and get a whiff of mildew. Oh no! Your basement is flooded!

Although we can’t take you back in time, we can help you prevent future incidents from happening. So continue reading (after you clean up your basement of course)!

How to Prevent Basement Flooding

Preventing a flooded basement is easier than it sounds, all it takes is some dedication to your home’s state of health. To stop flooding before it begins you can:

  • Improve drainage, aim to clean your drains and gutters twice a year.
  • Seal all basement cracks and openings.
  • Build a 6-inch soil incline around your home so rainfall is driven out to the street.

While these are great tips, if you’re really wanting to ensure your basement is protected, it’s best to install a sump pump.

What is a Sump Pump?

A sump is a naturally constructed cavity below your basement floor also known as the basin. This pit is designed to hold and protect the sump pump. A sump pump’s job is to relocate water sitting around your home’s foundation to an area further away. Sump pumps aren’t only cost effective, but they can last for many years after installation (about 25 to 30 years).

A sump pump is also able to detect when and how much water needs to be pumped out away from your property. Moreover, they are known for being very effective tools to prevent flooding.

Professional Sump Pump Installation

A flooded basement can not only destroy some of your most valuable possessions, but it can also impact the structural integrity of your home. So if you’re looking for professional Sump Pump installation, D & F Plumbing has got you covered! Our plumbing technicians are highly experienced in sump pump installations and we’d be happy to equip your basement with an effective anti-flooding system, so contact us today!

When Should You Replace Your Water Heater?

Broken water heater element. D & F Plumbing serving Vancouver WA and Portland OR talks about when should you replace your water heater.

Broken water heater element. D & F Plumbing serving Vancouver WA and Portland OR talks about when should you replace your water heater.Are your showers the temperature of that nasty lukewarm cup of tea you never finished? That could be a sign you need to replace your water heater. We can help — spend tea time chatting with us about when you should replace your water heater.

Is Your Water Heater Aging Out?

How long is a water heater even supposed to last? Well, that depends on whether it’s gas or electric. Electric water heaters usually last 8-10 years, whereas gas water heaters last about 6-8 years. They don’t, however, always last this long. And on some occasions, they will even surpass this timeline. In fact, we replaced one electric water heater that lasted 40 years! Check out the whole story here.

Is Your Water Bill Rising?

Hot water is an absolute necessity. From doing your dishes and laundry, to cooking and washing your hands, water is used everywhere. Sadly, hot water isn’t free.

If your water heater is declining in health, you’ll be declining in wealth. A water heater becoming inefficient can cost a lot of money. It will often cost more to use a run down water heater than just replacing it.

Is Your Water Rusty?

Rusty or tinted water could mean a couple things are going on with your plumbing. However, if it’s only coming out of your hot water side, it definitely has to do with your water heater. 

It’s time to clear up the waters. Let’s do a little test to help you find out what’s really going on. Fill a bucket with water 3 times. If by the end of the third bucket your water still looks rusty, then your water heater likely needs replacing.

Strange Noises Coming From Your Heater

Do you hear strange clanging sounds coming from your water heater? Some ticking or tapping sounds are normal, but if you notice they start to sound different, you may have a problem. 

As the heater is used, sediment will get heated, reheated, and will eventually harden. This causes strange sounds, which usually means your heater is at the end of its life. Having a layer of hardened sediment can cause less efficiency. The heater will have to work harder and it can cause small holes or cracks. This generally results in leaks, which could eventually cost more than just replacing the heater.

Age, money, rust, noises, who knew it all had so much to do with enjoying a cozy shower? Save time and money by calling the Plumbers in Plaid to help you diagnose your water heater.

Winter Plumbing Tips

Frozen outdoor pipe. D & F talks about winter plumbing tips to help prevent a pipe from rupturing in Portland OR and Vancouver WA.

Frozen outdoor pipe. D & F talks about winter plumbing tips to help prevent a pipe from rupturing in Portland OR and Vancouver WA.

Frozen pipes and burst pipes are expensive and stressful to deal with. During cold temperatures, burst pipes are one of the most common causes of property damage, estimating about $5,000 in repairs. Yikes! Save yourself the cost, stress, and damage related to frozen pipes and follow these helpful winter plumbing tips from us instead, before Old Man Winter strikes! You’ll be glad you did.

Insulate Pipes

The pipes most at risk are the ones located in attics, garages, and crawl spaces. However, pipes in cupboards and exterior walls can also freeze. One way to protect the pipes in these vulnerable areas is with pipe insulation. Pipe insulation is affordable, easy to install, and can be found at most hardware stores.

You can also use a heat cable for vulnerable pipes as long as you have an electrical outlet nearby.

Apply Faucet Covers

Whether you call them faucets or sillcocks these outdoor plumbing fixtures can burst from cold air if left unprotected. Drain all of your outside faucets and cover them. You can purchase foam faucet covers from most retailers. After you’ve insulated your outdoor faucets, deactivate them at the shutoff valve.

Winterize Outdoor Drains

Remove foliage and other debris from your gutters, downspouts, and storm drains to ensure all of your exterior drains work properly. This will help prevent flooding during heavy rainfall and snow.

Shut off the Water When Leaving Town

If you’re heading out of town for a few days, you may want to shut off your main water supply. This will help prevent excessive damage if your pipes do freeze and burst while you’re gone.

Keep Your Thermostat Consistent

Although many homeowners tend to lower their thermostats to save money, this plan may actually backfire. Burst pipes cost much more than the money you’d be saving on your energy bill. Instead, we recommend you keep your thermostat settings consistent throughout the day and night. This will keep your home comfortable and keep your pipes free of ice.

Inspect Your Water Heater

You rely on your water heater for showers, laundry, and dishes. The last thing you want is for your water heater to break during a cold snap, so make sure it is running properly and efficiently. Signs you may need water heater maintenance or repairs include rusty water, water leaks, and unusual sounds from your water heater.

Keep Kitchen Drains Clear

This time of year is a common time for holiday gatherings and feasts. Just be sure to properly dispose of food. Don’t pour grease, oils, or fats down your kitchen drain or garbage disposal or you may suffer a drain clog.

Let the grease harden then scrape it in a trash can. If you do experience a kitchen drain clog, don’t use any store-bought products. These are not long-term solutions and can damage your pipes as they carve away at the lining. Instead, contact your local plumber. They have professional-grade equipment like snakes and video inspection tools.

What to do if you have a frozen pipe

If you have a frozen pipe, it’s important to react as quickly as possible before it bursts. Apply warm rags to the pipe. If the pipe is inaccessible, contact your local plumber to thaw it and inspect it for damage.

We hope these tips help you as you work to winterize your plumbing this year. If you have a frozen pipe or burst pipe on your hands, give us a call. We provide emergency plumbing services and affordable financing.

Why You Need a Plumber for Your Kitchen Remodel

Person showing up hands to kitchen. D & F Plumbing serving Portland OR and Vancouver WA talks about why you need a plumber for your kitchen remodel. Are you thinking about adding a farmhouse kitchen sink? Those are all the rage these days. Maybe you’re interested in updating your dishwasher. Whatever the plumbing upgrade, the question is: are you going to hire a plumber or go the DIY method? We know you may be capable of performing many DIY repairs, especially with YouTube around. But, we’re also very firm believers in the importance of working with a professional plumber for any plumbing remodel. “Why,” you ask? Simply put, because it’s cost-effective and safe.

Plumbers are Knowledgable

First off, plumbers know their stuff. They go to school and complete an apprenticeship to become a journeyman plumber. While they’re known for clearing clogged drains, that’s just a small portion of what they do. Plumbers also know how to install pipes, plumbing fixtures, and appliances. They’re trained to inspect, diagnose, and repair all types of plumbing.

Permits for Kitchen Remodels

If your kitchen remodel is a large enough project, you’ll need to have permits before you perform the work for safety-related reasons. If your remodel is a complete overhaul where you’re changing out the entire layout, you’ll not only need major plumbing work performed, but you’ll also need to report it to the proper authorities. Doing improvements to anything connected to the sewer will also require a license. Plumbers are knowledgeable about building codes and can help you file any necessary permits.

Hiring a Plumber is Cost-Effective

Not to brag or anything, but we’re often called to fix other people’s plumbing DIY projects gone wrong. By hiring a plumber from the start, you save time, stress, and money. Don’t forget all of those trips you may have to make at the hardware store to buy tools you’ll never use again.

Experts in Kitchen Remodels

If you’ve never remodeled your kitchen before, it’s best to not try now, even if you’re looking to save money. Before starting your kitchen remodel, talk with plumbers in your area. Tell them what you envision and learn about their qualifications and experience. Hiring a certified plumber for your kitchen remodel will not only make your life much easier, but you’ll also have peace of mind knowing your plumbing was done right.

Are you thinking about performing a kitchen remodel? The kitchen remodel plumbers at D & F Plumbing are here to help make sure it gets done right. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

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6 Secrets About The Plumbing World You Might Not Know

D & F Plumbing staff. D & F Plumbing serving Portland OR and Vancouver WA reveals 6 secrets about the plumbing world you might not know.

An interview with the D&F Plumbing Customer Service Team provides a glimpse inside the world of plumbing.

 

At D&F Plumbing, we believe transparency and clarity are the best ways to build trustworthy relationships with our customers. We take pride in educating customers about the plumbing industry and how it works. In an effort to keep you informed, we’re filling you in on 6 secrets about our world.

Meet The Team

D & F Plumbing staff. D & F Plumbing serving Portland OR and Vancouver WA reveals 6 secrets about the plumbing world you might not know.

Each of these juicy tidbits comes from an interview with our Customer Service Representatives (known as CSR’s). Our CSR team is the first impression you get when calling our office.

Meet Brittney, Jenny and Tina; our customer advocates on the phones. With a combined 60 years of customer service experience, they’re dedicated to providing the highest levels of care for you. 

Each of these team players were hand-selected by the owners because of their friendly personalities and customer service skills. This stellar crew is always looking to refine and improve your impression of D&F Plumbing. 

CSR’s also contribute to the big picture of D&F by coordinating all team members through each phase of service—it’s a big and important role!

Here’s what they want you to know about customer service and the in-office process at a small Portland plumbing company:

 

What’s your favorite part about working directly with customers?

 

BRITTNEY: I’m always looking for the best solution. Customer satisfaction is important to me. Making even a little extra effort is noticed by our customers. I personalize the experience by being friendly and listening. And I always take quick action on whatever was requested. Getting stuff done right away is important.

JENNY: Being able to help customers. It’s satisfying to get positive feedback from customers about myself or the plumbers. I try to treat customers like they’re a friend, with sincerity.

TINA: I like when I can make a customer smile. I use humor to personalize the experience. I try to identify with customers and their situation. I can hear the customers’ smile through the phone. And if I can make someone laugh in a stressful situation, I’ve done a good job. Customers appreciate that I’m funny.

 

What do you wish customers understood about your job?

 

D & F Plumbing staff. D & F Plumbing serving Portland OR and Vancouver WA reveals 6 secrets about the plumbing world you might not know.

BRITTNEY: How much we do beyond answering phones. I’m glad we have a good team that plays to each other’s strengths. Between all of us, the bases are covered. But there’s so much to do [behind the scenes].

JENNY: Diffusing stressful situations is hard. I try to stay calm and find the quickest solution to be helpful. I didn’t cause the plumbing problem, but I’m here to help you fix it!

TINA: When things go wrong in the field, it isn’t our fault. We try our best to solve problems as they happen, but we don’t always have control over the situation. We’re helping customers and plumbers at the same time; we’re dealing with a lot of different problems at once.

 

How does your position fit in with other departments at D&F?

 

BRITTNEY: We’re involved in every step of the process. From starting the appointment and making sure all the info is correct, to getting the plumber out there, to making sure all notes and pictures have been added to the customer’s file, and that the correct amount was charged at the end. We help every single department.

JENNY: We help everybody. I wear so many hats. I don’t actually do that much dispatching because I do so many other things for people in the office. 

TINA: We help put all the puzzle pieces in place. We keep everyone in the loop throughout the plumbing project. Communication is a huge part of my job.

 

What should customers know about the plumbing industry?

 

D & F Plumbing staff. D & F Plumbing serving Portland OR and Vancouver WA reveals 6 secrets about the plumbing world you might not know.

BRITTNEY: Plumbing is expensive for good reason. People are always trying to dispute the cost, but there’s a lot of factors. And [D&F] is always up-front. [The plumbers] show the options, give estimates, and share the price before the job starts so you have control of the project.

D & F Plumbing staff. D & F Plumbing serving Portland OR and Vancouver WA reveals 6 secrets about the plumbing world you might not know.

JENNY: Our plumbers go through years of training to understand all phases of plumbing. People don’t understand how much work, experience, and schooling it takes. There’s a reason plumbers are called “skilled” labor.

TINA: That the plumber’s time and materials aren’t free. Our plumbers work hard to help lots of customers every day. Our plumbers don’t get enough recognition for the job they do.

 

How do you help the plumbers do their job better?

 

BRITTNEY: I do anything and everything to keep the day moving. Sometimes I add notes into invoices for plumbers or help them build estimates—they’ll dictate over the phone and I’ll type it in to make it easier. 

JENNY: I try to find out as much info about the plumbing problem as possible. For example, I always find out if the customer is supplying a part or fixture. If not, I make sure our plumber brings options for the customer to choose from.

TINA: I try to assist in any way I can. One time, I even drove a camera for a video inspection over to a plumber on my lunch break. I try to accommodate everyone.

 

What’s the difference between good customer service and exceptional customer service?

 

BRITTNEY: I love my job and the team we have. The feeling in the office is everyone being supportive. It’s that family-feeling. And that rolls into the customer experience.

JENNY: Going above and beyond instead of just doing the bare minimum. I also try to find ways to keep jobs cost-effective, by sharing about coupons or reminding plumbers to waive the dispatch fee on jobs over $500. I want customers to get the most out of their projects.

TINA: Communication and proper coordination between the plumber and customer. Just staying in contact with both keeps everyone happy and prevents miscommunications. I want to keep everyone in the loop all the time.

Have you had an exceptional experience with our Customer Service Representatives or plumbers? Click here to share your testimonial. We appreciate your feedback!

A 40-Year-Old Water Heater Upgrade With Instant Results!

Traditional water heater next to electric water heater. D&F Plumbing talks about upgrading a 40-year-old water heater with instant results!

Traditional water heater next to electric water heater. D&F Plumbing talks about upgrading a 40-year-old water heater with instant results!Steven, a new D&F Plumbing customer, wanted to upgrade his outdated 40-year-old water heater for his growing family while still providing energy efficiency. But it came with challenges.

  • Steven wanted to upgrade from a 52-gallon tank to an 80-gallon tank which requires more space
  • Hybrid water heaters have a condensation drain pipe so a sink or floor drain must be nearby for water run-off
  • Hybrid water heaters need airflow, so the tank needed to sit 6 inches away from the wall without obstructing walkways or doorways

Fortunately, we at D&F Plumbing are very skilled with water heaters and we strive for customer satisfaction. We provided Steven with several options that worked with his needs and budget, keeping him in control of the project.

Learn which cost-saving solution Steven decided on by clicking the “learn more” button below!

Learn More

Motivated By Money: The Millennial Passion For Plumbing

Meet a millennial in the skilled trades and our youngest plumber in the field as he discusses the benefits of a career in construction.

Ask any high school senior where they’re headed after graduation and most will say “college.” The academic route is peddled on students by parents, teachers and guidance counselors. Multiple generations are now burdened with nearly $1.5 trillion in “good debt” for increasingly irrelevant degrees.

A university-only mindset creates a narrow view of what’s possible for the careers and bank accounts of young people.

If you were born in 1981 or later, you fall into the millennial or post-millennial category. The academia mantra hit this age bracket the hardest. Regardless of skills, abilities, interests, or potential for success, the theme was college or bust. And now we’re seeing the result.

Why Are the Skilled Trades in Demand?

The result is a skills gap that’s ever-widening. There’s not enough skilled labor to meet demand. And precious few young people have any interest or understanding of what a career in the trades can offer.

There’s well over 7 million available jobs in the US. Many of these open positions are in the construction field. But a combination of record low unemployment, a lack of interest in the industry, and a lack of technical expertise creates a disparity for employers and job seekers. And with baby boomers (the over-55 crowd) retiring out of the trades in coming years, skilled workers will continue to be in high demand.

High demand means high pay. And a healthy paycheck seems to be the most enticing factor for many young job seekers.

The Future of the Trades

At D&F Plumbing, we’re proud to employ qualified workers of all ages. This month, we’re featuring Trent Rutledge, a millennial at our shop who joined the plumbing trade for one primary goal: money.

Trent, a 26-year-old journeyman plumber, has been in the industry since he was 19. We interviewed Trent about his path to plumbing and weren’t surprised by his answers.

Like most high schoolers, there was little information available to Trent about anything other than the university tradition. Counselors and teachers “made college seem like a requirement.”

As a young adult, he knew there were only two options to succeed; work or school. Trent attended community college for a few semesters, but left, knowing it wasn’t a good fit.

Many people think jobs in construction or roles that require hard physical work are a “last-resort,” and only serve as an alternative to burger-flipping minimum wage jobs.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas Edison

But Trent knew a few friends who worked in the trades, specifically in plumbing. He also knew they enjoyed sizeable paychecks. After leaving college Trent became a laborer, where he got his hands dirty prepping job sites for the licensed plumbers to come in and handle the finish work.

Digging ditches and doing prep work was only the beginning. Motivated by the paycheck, Trent joined the plumbing apprenticeship program. This earn-as-you-learn program takes 4 years to complete, and gave Trent the experience to become a licensed journeyman plumber in the local union.

Apprenticeships are an optimal route for young people. Instead of taking on student debt, you get to make money while learning the ins and outs of the industry. When you join the union at the end of your apprenticeship, you’re awarded more responsibility, and ultimately more money.

Summer of 2017, Trent joined the D&F team as a journeyman plumber. He works primarily in new construction. His current project is a hotel build that’s been in the works for the last several months.

Are Skilled Trades Worth It?

Trent was honest about the challenges of working in the trades. While money is a good reason to get up for work in the morning, there are some downsides.

“The work is challenging—being in the weather is hard. But I work with a good group of guys,” Trent said.

The Pacific Northwest weather can be miserable and hard labor can be grueling, but for now, the paycheck is worth it.

Yet a job in the trades is aspirational. Many young plumbers have goals of becoming project managers, estimators, foremen, or business owners. These ambitious workers gain skills and learn about the industry in the field, which prepares them for loftier goals down the road.

Jobs in the trades pay very well, especially when you’re licensed and unionized. In Oregon, plumbers make some of the highest wages in their field. With shops competing for good workers, many employees are further incentivized with bonuses and commission programs. It’s very possible to inch towards the 6 figure bracket after just a handful of years. Living wage? That’s nothing. You can actually prosper in the trades.

Job security is also an attractive benefit of the trades. With such high demand for proficient workers, you’re almost guaranteed a job for the rest of your life. And a position in plumbing will be in demand no matter where you live. You’re not limited to a specific region, you can take your career with you wherever you go.

Plus, in this field, you won’t be burdened with substantial student debt. Slinging soy lattes to pay off $100k for a piece of paper that has no relevance is a thing of the past when you join the trades.

Not to mention health benefits for you and the whole family, from medical to dental and eye care. Paid time-off for vacations? Definitely. Some plumbing companies, like D&F Plumbing, even provide company trucks, a cell phone, a fuel card, etc. The benefits are incredibly competitive because of the staggering need for good workers.

Money might create the drive for a plumbing career, but genuine satisfaction comes from a higher purpose. Millennials crave careers that are fulfilling. Plumbers contribute to the overall health and well-being of the community. Clean, safe water is our life-source and providing that access makes for a worthwhile 9-to-5. If money is the starting point for millennials, meaningful work is the big payoff.

It might take time, a positive attitude and a strong work ethic, but a career in the trades could lead to the luxury lifestyle every millennial dreams of.

Trent left us with some advice for young people who are deciding between work or school. He said, “If you don’t have a goal for college, if you’re thinking ‘oh, I’ll figure it out later,’ don’t go. Join the trades instead.”

Why ramble through school, switching majors and racking up debt? You could receive paid training in the trades and start a rewarding career immediately. College isn’t a requirement to succeed and the plumbing industry isn’t all about bathrooms and butt cracks.

If you like meaningful work, organization, problem solving, creativity, leadership, technology, critical thinking, working with your hands and making good money, there’s a place for you in the skilled trades.