Jessica's blog

What’s in a Yelp Rating?

What is a Yelp rating?  It’s the average of all reviews posted by customers.  Customers who regularly write reviews on Yelp are referred to as “yelpers”.  I regularly check our Yelp rating.  At the same time I also check others.

Indeed, the Yelp page for plumbers is crowded.  On my most recent visit to the local Yelp page for plumbers I clicked on one establishment with a 5 star rating. Good reviews, mostly about good pricing.  After that I checked the status of their contractor’s license on the California State Contractor’s License Board web-site.  It stated the requirement for worker’s compensation was waived due to no employees, meaning all work was performed by the owner.  Odd, but sadly, not rare.  This establishment is often seen with help at various sites.  

Translation.  The help is working for cash.  The establishment is not reporting those wages for workers compensation insurance, state and federal payroll taxes and Obamacare mandated health insurance.  Result.  This plumbing service can drastically under report income and taxability.  Even more, the service company’s costs are significantly less than those companies that transact legally.

Additionally, those establishments who operate “under the table”, are unable to pull the appropriate permits, due to the requirement by municipalities of proper worker’s compensation insurance.  So, they perform the work without proper permitting.  Another reduction in cost.

So, back to the Yelp reviews.  Our, “under the table” contractor receives a 5-star rating for reasonalble pricing.  It’s no wonder.  No 1-star reviews for operating completely illegally.  

Currently we have only 2 reviews. One is 4 and the other 5.  The 5 is written as a result of some great advice from one of our plumbers, stating that the senior adult’s issue was simple and no charge was issued.  That’s good relations for sure, but unsustainable in the long run.

Here’s the bottom line.  Under the table contractors receive 5 stars that are only possible to achieve while transacting illegally.  Legal contractors receive 5 stars as a result of working for free.  


Submitted By Dale Maples, owner

Recycled Toilets?

Are toilets recyclable?  You bet! And, here a MapleService, it’s most definitely one of the “greenest” things we do.  “Green plumbing” that is. At MapleService we remove and replace a lot of toilets.  Several per week in fact.  Toilets are now only available in 1.6 gallons per flush (GPF).  So, that’s step #1 of the green toilet technology.  But, what about that old toilet just removed?

Well here at MapleService, we collect those old “thrones”.  When the collection is large enough, we deliver them to a local paving company.  The paving company breaks down the porcelain china, and adds it to their road base mixture.  So, that old toilet becomes part of the roads we drive on. Not kidding.  Now, that’s sensible plumbing conservation.

So next time you’re out for a spin, take a good look at the road.  That pavement may seem a bit familiar.  Maybe too familiar.  Haha. 

Submitted By Dale Maples

Natural Gas Distribution

Natural Gas.  The fuel that heats our homes, our water, our ranges and dryers.  Every house is different.  Gas distribution is measure in BTUs, or British Thermal Units.  A BTU is measured as the amount of energy needed to heat, or cool, 1 pound of water, by 1degree Fahrenheit.

For plumbers who install natural gas piping systems, the systems are sized by BTU load.  As the BTU load increases, so will the pipe size.  More volume of natural gas requires larger diameter piping.  

So, it’s important to utilize a trained, or certified, plumber who is knowledgeable in proper BTU loads and the associated piping requirements.  If not sized properly, natural gas appliances will starve for fuel and not work properly.  Or not work at all.

Submitted By Dale Maples, Owner

Trenchless Sewer Line Saves Old Glory

How far can MapleService go on a trenchless sewer line replacement?  About 150’.  On Good Friday, 2014, Mapleservice installed a 140’ trenchless sewer line at the Humboldt County Veteran’s memorial.  The new sewer line traveled in a trenchless fashion directly beneath 100’ of concrete and, most importantly, directly under the flag pole.  That’s Old Glory.  The flag and pole were undisturbed.

Submitted By Dale Maples, owner

Shop Local?

You here it all the time.  “Shop Local!”  What does it mean?
Shop only at stores located in your community?  Shop only at establishments with local ownership?  Shop in a local “bricks & mortar” store, rather than on-line?  
I invite you to try any of the above.  It’s nearly impossible.  

I guess it depends on how one defines local.  My neighbors, and yours, work for establishments that have their corporate headquarters far away from our communities.  

For me, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I compete in a global economy.  Even as a plumber.  Imagine that.  A good portion of plumbing service companies are franchises with governing offices located elsewhere.  However, their employees live and transact at the same establishments where we all transact.  Their kids go to school with mine, and yours.  

What’s one to do?

I think we all know the answer.  Strive to be a better value than the competition, no matter the address of the ownership.  My guess is, in the end, that’s where the market will go.  So we’d best be there when it arrives.

Submitted By Dale Maples, Owner

Sensible Or Senseless Conservation

I drive a hybrid.  Ford Escape to be exact.  It is possible to drive through town on electricity only.  If I keep it below 20mph, and leave each intersection at a snail’s pace.  Regrettably, I just don’t seem to have that much patience.  However, combined with the dual engine feature, gas and electric, and its already low GPM, I figure I’m saving about $1200.00 per year.  It’s a 2009, so that’s about $5000.00 total. Further, I’m pretty hard on the vehicle, and I’ve had no major maintenance cost.  80,000 miles in 4 years!

Here’s the one drawback.  When you’re stopped for any period of time, the engine will turn off.  It can give you the allusion that you’re ready to exit the vehicle.  Still in drive.  Perhaps this situation could arise while you’re stopped, window rolled down, and conversing with a passerby, or taking a call.  Engine will shut off.  Perhaps, during the conversation or call, you decide to exit the vehicle.  Not it park.  The hybrid will perform like it should, in drive! It may proceed through a store parking lot and be stopped only by the shopping cart corral.  $5000.00 auto body expense later.  There’s goes my $5000 in GPM savings.  That’s my story.  Sensible or senseless.  You decide.

MapleService Answers the Call of the US Navy

During the last week of January 2014, the USS Independence pulled into Humboldt Bay for refueling.   After refueling the Independence returned to open sea off the Coast of Humboldt County.   The Independence, a new prototype war ship, was undergoing extreme maneuvers to test the capability of the vessel.  

During testing, a drainage problem was discovered.  Continued testing maneuvers depended on clearing the drains immediately, and correctly.  A return to port was required.  Great care must be taken to protect the piping components and equipment during the clearing operation. 

Who could they count on to get it done correctly and immediately?  They called Mapleservice.  Our plumber, David Webb, and operations manager, Chuck Hubler arrived on the dock early Friday, 1/31/2014 to get the job done.  They were complete by 1pm, and the USS Independence left port to continue testing.  And with a fully functioning drain system.

One cool ship.

Submitted by Dale Maples

Re-thinking Frozen and Burst Water Pipes

In December 2013 the Mapleservice crew serviced a record number of requests.  The overwhelming majority were for frozen and burst water pipes.  This was due to a record number of days below freezing in Northern CA.  The number of requests completely overwhelmed our staff and capacity.  As a result Mapleservice enlisted personnel from it’s sister company, Wayne Maples Plumbing & Heating.  Even with the help, we were well beyond capacity.  

To make things just a bit more overwhelming a call to another local plumbing company was answered by their automated system.  The automated system stated, “Thank you for calling. Regrettably we are at capacity.  Please call Mapleservice at 445-9671.”  Not kidding!  

During the freeze many people on the street suggested I must be “giddy” with all the business, and revenue.  My answer, in retrospect, is absolutely not.  That is, not giddy.  Even more, I’m rethinking our procedures for the next freeze.  

Here’s why.
We accepted too many calls.  As a result we rarely arrived in a satisfactory timeframe.  I’m quite certain our lack of customer satisfaction did not grow our customer base.  It may have even damaged our customer market share.

So, here’s our procedure for the next freeze.  Existing customers only.  Simple.

Submitted By Dale Maples, Owner

Preventing Freezing Water Pipes. Part I

It’s been dipping a bit below 32 degress F, so here’s our top tips to prevent those water pipes from freezing.

1. Disconnect and drain all garden hoses
2. Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
3. Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing
4. Indentify the location of the main water valve and the valve on your water heater.   (Learning the location of these valves may come in handy during an emergency)
5. Wrap pipes nearest exterior walls and in crawl spaces with pipe insulation or heating tape.  This will prevent freezing, especially for interior pipes that run along outside walls.
6. Keep the thermostat set to the same temperatures during the day and night.  By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
7. Close all windows near water pipes.  Freezing temperatures combined with wind drafts can cause pipes to freeze more frequently.
8. During really cold weather, open the cold water tap and let the water run at a trickle to keep water in the pipes moving.  

Submitted By Dale Maples, Owner

Called to Care

It’s official.  There’s a new Foster Care Support Group in Humboldt County.  It’s “Called To Care”.  MapleService is an advocate for the improvement of Foster Care in Humboldt County.  Called to Care is committed to supporting and mentoring Foster parents.  At Mapleservice we’ve been collecting diapers for “Called to Care”, and we’ve delivered thousands of diapers.  The critical component for Foster children to succeed as adults  is a relationship with a caring adult.  Even better, to be adopted and become part of a loving family.  Watch the attached video.  How will you respond?  

The need is great.  The signature event for “Called to Care” will be a recruitment event in 2014.  Watch for it.

Submitted by Dale Maples, Owner


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