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Podcast Q & A 7: My husband and I want to replace our iron filter that has given us some trouble but were unable to put it in ourselves, …do we need a licensed plumbing contractor?

Podcast Q & A 2: softenerHello, welcome to the Clean Water Made Easy Podcast Q&A, this is Q&A episode 7.

My name is Gerry Bulfin, I’m a WQA-Certified Master Water Specialist and a long-time Water Treatment Contractor here in Santa Cruz, California and I have a main podcast where we go deeper into various well water treatment systems.

I also do these quick Question & Answer episodes to go over questions that folks ask us specifically. Every day we get a lot of phone calls, e-mails and chats through our website so I pick the most interesting one and answer it.

So today, Dorothy contacted us about replacing an old iron filter and asked:

Greensand Iron Filter
Old Greensand Iron Filter

“I live in a remote area and our local treatment guy is an hour away. He tried to fix our problem but gave up on us and now I can’t reach him by phone. My husband and I want to replace the iron filter that has given us some trouble but were unable to put it in ourselves, can we use our handyman neighbor who knows basic plumbing or, do we need a licensed plumbing contractor?”

My answer to Dorothy (see complete transcript below, or better yet, listen to the Podcast above!) was:

1. You can use a handyman, no need for a contractor. 

2. Make sure the handyman knows basic plumbing and ask him to completely read and follow the installation manual. 

3. Follow all local building codes.      

3. Be sure to start up the system using the instructions and do testing before and after the system. 

 

Complete Transcript

“I live in a remote area and our local treatment guy is an hour away. He tried to fix our problem but gave up on us and now I can’t reach him by phone. My husband and I want to replace the iron filter that has given us some trouble but were unable to put it in ourselves, can we use our handyman neighbor who knows basic plumbing or, do we need a licensed plumbing contractor?”

Okay, Dorothy, there’s a lot of things going on with that and I may not be able to cover it all on this quick Q&A but there are good questions because it speaks to something that happens a lot and that is, is that, it depends.

So what it is it depends on, how complicated your water problem is and if you have a system that requires frequent maintenance then you’re still either better having a handyman do it or, getting a water treatment guy.

Now you say you don’t have a water treatment guy near you.  This does come up, we hear that sometimes and so essentially, as far as the codes go for the actual installation, at least in CA if you’re not contracting over a certain dollar amount if you pay the person just labor and you buy the system yourself then you don’t need a licensed contractor to put in a washing machine or a water treatment system or a water heater. If you can get a licensed plumbing contractor, yeah that’s better to have a licensed contractor, sometimes handymen do work out really well though.

You have an existing system so really it’s just a matter of some basic plumbing and then, the important thing is, going through the installation guide when you get the iron filter from whomever you’re getting it from and you want to make sure that you follow everything in the recommended installation guide and operating procedures and the start-up procedures.

For example, we get a lot of plumbing contractors that have put in Iron filter softeners before. They’re charging quite a bit per hour so they feel under pressure to get it done as quickly as possible and so they don’t want to charge the customer, take the time to really study and read through the installation instructions and go through all the operating procedures because sometimes just installing it that doesn’t mean you’re done.

Often the start-up of your iron filter begins once it’s plumbed in. So we do hear that sometimes where plumbers, it happens more commonly with plumbers than handymen because someone that doesn’t know anything about it, that’s never done it they’re going to read it and make sure they follow every step at least that’s been our experience.

Plumbers are fine. If you want to pay for the licensed plumbing contractor that’s fine too, you just want to say upfront, look I really want you to do this correctly.

If you are willing to read the manual, follow the instructions and do the correct start-up procedures and assuming you get an automatic iron filter, it doesn’t require a ton of maintenance or time.

There are no iron filters out there that are maintenance-free but some may require maintenance once a year or twice a year then as long as you’re having that done. You could have someone else do it, it still would be a really good idea to understand, especially in your situation to go through-read the manual yourself, know how it all works, know how the, if it’s an automatic system, how the timer works how the programming works on it and just know that yourself even if you’re not doing the actual plumbing and then finally, it’s water quality you know.

In other words, having a basic test kit, or getting your water tested at a lab periodically and monitoring your system, a lot of times water changes over time, your well water can change or the conditions change and doing a water sample and simple test before and after depending on the situation on the water chemistry, is important.

Anyway, we’ll reach out to you to talk more about it but that’s basically our take on it. Handymans work great, a lot of times they do really well especially if it’s just a basic plumbing job and they’re good at plumbing and because the important thing is starting it up correctly and knowing it’s installed based on the manufacturers recommendations and the actual procedures involved and then afterwards, there’s basic quality control and water testing.

Alright, well, thanks for e-mailing us Dorothy and we’ll talk to you again soon.

 

 

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