Plumbers, such as The Gentlemen Plumbers work with water. How about under water? Are there diver plumbers?
Did you answer, “Yes”? Good for you! The Lethbridge Herald recently reported on an Arctic plumbing job. Both backup pumps at CFS Alert, a military facility near the North Pole, broke, leaving only the regular pump in operation.
The fix was a long process. First, workers needed to drill a hole in the ice. This took 10 days as the ice is more than a meter thick at the moment. Once there was a suitable opening, they were able to send a robot submarine into the icy depths to create a damage report. After that, an ace diver-plumber team did their best. Although they managed to replace one of the broken pumps, the other will remain out-of-order until things warm up in the summer.
Like to know how much things cost? The Herald says that besides their usual pay, “the nine-member dive team was paid temporary duty costs of $6,900”. There were also transport fees from Halifax, Trenton, and CFS Alert to the sum of $85,000.
However, these costs pale besides an occurrence in the U.S. In 2007, the U.S. Government was “overcharged” for plumbing supplies. The Herald reports that “the American military paid almost US$1 million for two 19-cent washers and US$446,000 for an elbow pipe worth about $8.75. The firm’s co-owner later pleaded guilty to fraud.”
Reputable plumbers like The Gentlemen Plumbers do their best to keep the costs of a repair as reasonable as possible. Take washers, for example. Handy people can often replace their tap washers themselves. There are quite a few good “how to” sites and videos on the Internet which give step-by-step instructions. However, it is not always as simple as it looks.
One difficulty is stubborn taps. For a variety of reasons, they just don't want to come apart. Then, there is the need for the exact washer. Washers can look very similar but if you put “washers” in Google Images, you can get an excellent idea of the amazing variety of washers and o-rings to choose from. Not only does the circumference need to be correct but so does the thickness and the material. Lastly, normal wear-and-tear of a tap can contribute to dripping once the tap is reassembled. Plumbers, including The Gentlemen Plumbers often have to use their expertise to correct the problem without the need for a new tap.
It's great to be able to DIY simple “around the house” plumbing repairs. Yet, in many cases, it can be less expensive to have the professionals, such as The Gentlemen Plumbers, do the job. The trick is not to get out of one's depth.