The Inside Outside Guys: Find the pro before you need them

Ken Calverley and Chuck Breidenstein
Special to The Detroit News

You woke up this morning to the sound of running water and discovered a cascade coming through the walls and running over the floors.

The realization dawns quickly that you have no idea where the main water shutoff is. You grab your phone and initiate a search for “plumbers — emergency service” and call the first company you find.

There are several dynamics at work in this example but, perhaps, the key takeaway is that you may have avoided the panic of “finding somebody” and even the emergency altogether with just a little foresight and pre-planning.

A technician arrives at your home within the hour and proceeds to first shut off the water. Within another 20 minutes she discovers the source of the leak and completes a repair before handing you an invoice for $400.

In the moment it is worth every penny and you gladly pay the bill with thanks. In retrospect you begin to question the amount of money when compared to the time invested.

This is an example of an old business axiom that states, “The value of services rendered diminishes over time”.

What was easily worth $400  to you in the moment now seems like a lot of money for what they did and how quickly they accomplished it. Would you feel better about the expense if it had taken two hours to complete while water continued to run down through your home?

There are several dynamics at work in this example but, perhaps, the key takeaway is that you may have avoided the panic of “finding somebody” and even the emergency altogether with just a little foresight and pre-planning.

The Guys have long been advocates of establishing a relationship with a good plumbing company and a good mechanical company before you have an emergency need.

Think of it; on any given day in this busy economy every plumbing and mechanical technician and every truck is scheduled to be somewhere taking care of someone’s housing problems.

To respond to your emergency call, the company is required to delay scheduled service to other people. We call it “backing up the schedule” and it is commonly caused by everything from supply-chain issues to weather to sick employees and, of course, to emergency service calls.

Let’s turn back the clock a few months. You called Waterwork Plumbing in Ferndale last April and scheduled a home maintenance checkup. They suggested to you it might be advantageous to have the technician perform some minor work while at the home including valve replacements in the old toilets and some O-ring lubrication and replacement in old water faucets.

While at your 50-year-old house, they also walked you through your system indicating areas of potential concern including the sump pump, location of shut off valves, hose bibs that drip constantly, old horizontal supply pipes in the basement that are likely partially blocked due to mineral accumulation, and the rusty base of the 25-  year-old water heater.

It was explained to you that your main sewer line has no backflow protection in a flood event and why that gurgling you hear after every flush in the main bath might be related to a partially blocked vent in your piping system.

While you and the technician “discover” your home you also discuss various equipment options and cost ranges for future needs that include replacing that old water heater.

They also put you on a customer priority list in case you need them again in the future. They now “know” you and your home; you have done business with them. You have their number.

Having a relationship with a good company before an emergency is worth the investment of time and money. Understanding the potential issues with your system is empowering and reduces stress.

When a company like Sharon’s Heating and Air Conditioning in Westland runs a $98 “Clean and Check” special, they are taking the initiative to meet you, discover your home and mechanical equipment, and demonstrate why you should have their phone number handy the next time you need service.

We are all in this together, the housing professionals and the homeowners. Everyone wants a great outcome from every encounter.

Take the time today to contact one of the great companies we have found for you at Get to know them and get their phone number.

 For housing advice and more, listen to the Inside Outside Guys every Saturday and Sunday on News/Talk 760, WJR-AM, from 10 a.m. to noon or contact us at