3 dif. plumbers want $350 for single-lever wash. mach. valve install

This is a follow up to the recent thread. I live in Northern NJ. So far, 3 different plumbers I talked to all quoted the same exact price of $350 to replace existing crank-style washing machine valves with a Watts single lever valve. Hard to believe this costs so much, since somebody here said it is only going to take an hour to do and the part only cost $33 or less and little bit of extra copper piping needed can't cost that much. I suppose I could get a handyman to do this for a lot less but then this person wouldn't be a licensed plumber....is it worth trying to save a couple hundred by not using a licensed plumber?
The way I want it installed (described in next paragraph) doesn't involve cutting into drywall. Just want to confirm this doesn't go against any codes:
At some point (who knows when) somebody installed a single-handle watts valve in my mom's unit. I'm looking to have mine done the same way since no drywall work is involved. There are two eschuteons (sic?) against the wall with about 3/4" exposed pipe sticking out. At my Mom's condo, it looks like they removed the old valves and then added downward elbows and then two sideward elbows and two small sections of horizontal pipe leading from the sideward elbows which into the watts valve from the sides. Only difference in her condo is that the pipes sticking out of the wall are 5 1/2" inches a part vs. mine being 9", so that would mean that mine would simply need more horizontal pipe. One of my pipes coming out of the wall is around an inch higher than the other, but the same was true for my moms so I guess this isn't going to be problematic.
There is nothing about that is goes against any codes, right?
Thanks,
Jay
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Hey, Jay.
Your situation is exactly what I thought you meant the first time, and I'm the one that said it would take about an hour and the valve cost about $30. Getting three identical quotes from three different plumbers is _extremely_ odd. I don't see how three different plumbers could give the exact same price if they all eyeballed the job. By any chance did you ignore the part I wrote in my earlier reply - the part about getting prices over the phone? To refresh your memory: http://groups.google.com/group/alt.home.repair/browse_thread/thread/f1ce76c803cb4f3e/b7bad00164579ebd?lnk=st&q=&rnumR#b7bad00164579ebd
Plumbers are more expensive then handymen. It is not a difficult job. I'm sure there are handymen that would not have a problem with doing the work. Your local code most likely restricts you to using a plumber as northern NJ has some pretty strict local codes. You're the only one that can make the determination if it's worth going with a handyman - it's your house.
BTW, you do not need to, nor should you, start a new thread on an existing open topic. If you add to your own thread, it pops to the top in peoples' newsreaders so you don't have to worry about your new information being lost in the mix.
R
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Without question they will need to cut in to the drywall. 3/4" comming out of the wall is no where close to what is needed. They have no way to solder on the new fittings. They also need to be concerned with the paper backing on the drywall catching fire when they are soldering. What may look easy to you "could" be a lot more involved. 350, while it might sound steep is, at least around here (Boston), a reasonable amount for a licensed plumber onsite. Rates here are 90-125+ per hour. 50$ stock, 2-3hrs onsite, your right there.
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Brian V wrote:

Also, there is one nasty word which everyone has overlooked: "Condo".
The condo assoc may have strict rules about who can do work.
In any event, the contractor working on a condo property has to assume a *lot* of liability. The guys who quoted this know that.
One last thought- Have you (OP) considered just leaving the old valves in place and installing armored hoses (high burst strength) instead of rubber ones?
Jim
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<< In any event, the contractor working on a condo property has to assume a *lot* of liability. The guys who quoted this know that. >>
How do they know that....I never mentioned it.
<< One last thought- Have you (OP) considered just leaving the old valves in place and installing armored hoses (high burst strength) instead of rubber ones? >>
I have steel-braided reinforced hoses already. Problem with the valve was that it started dripping a little from the stem, and I tried replacing the packing. When putting the nut back on, I noticed that something is peculiar in that, no matter what I do, the packing nut wants to always go onto the threaded cylinder part at an angle and therefore I can only tighten it so much without fear of stripping the threads (assuming they weren't already stripped or something). I don't know why the nut wants to go back on at an angle no matter what I do. Don't know if I did something wrong, but it may have been like that already. I suppose I could maybe see if a plumber could do repair work on the existing valve such as maybe try another nut, or replace the whole stem (if that is possible), but was thinking that having a single handle watts valve installed might be worth having done instead. What do you think?
Thanks,
J.
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jay-n-123 wrote:

Ah. Chances are you are stuck over the packing nut that won't thread on. If you are going to have a plumber in to fix that, he may as well put in the Watts.
(They likely figured out it's a condo from the address. Or that's their flat rate for everyone...)
Jim
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<< Ah. Chances are you are stuck over the packing nut that won't thread on. If you are going to have a plumber in to fix that, he may as well put in the Watts.>>
Hope I'm not beating a dead horse here...but what's strange is that the existing valve actually doesn't drip now when I opening up, likely cause I added the packing. It just bothers me out that the packing nut goes on at an angle even though it may have always been that way. Would it be crazy to live with it if it's not dripping (but always shut it off when not in use and only open it up a minimal amount when in use)...rather than immediately spending a few hundred for new valves?
If you think I'd be crazy not to just bite the bullet and get new valve(s) installed...do you think two individual sealed ball valves might be less likely to leak than a single lever Watts...I notice the single lever ones have all kinds of o rings, etc....but I guess the single-handle ones can easily be replaced without soldering if anything ever goes wrong...which do you think is better?
Thanks,
J.
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wrote:

Both options are reasonable, IMO. Obviously, if you live with the existing valve, you'll need to keep an eye it. However, any problem is almost certainly going to start with a minor drip and not a catastrophic failure. This of course, is in distinct contrast with failures of the applicance hoses which frequently burst catastrophically.
There are other (reasonable) options as well. e.g. install a large tray to catch any water and fit an alarm. There are also automatic shut-off valves such as:
http://www.smarthome.com/71151.html
I think these might make sense when the washer is installed on a second (or higher) floor and the scope for water damage is considerably greater.
I'm surprised insurers have not imposed stricter requirements on washing machine connections -- apparently the losses due to hose failures are quite considerable.
--
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Actually I do have a water alarm underneath it already...not the kind that automatically shuts anything off though.
BTW, I'm finding that the water alarms I have work (wathchdog I think) work better when you fold a piece of paper towel and stick it underneath the alarm...this is because the metal electrodes don't touch the floor and if there is a slight leak the alarm might not go off if the water doesn't get to touch the electrodes...but if you fold a piece of paper towel the towel will absorb the water from even a slight leak and cause the alarm to trigger.
J.
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Bah humbug. $350 is probably their minimum charge.
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<<Bah humbug. $350 is probably their minimum charge.>>
Yeah, I do like to save money if at all possible.
I losened the nut again and put it back on. Now I'm not sure if it's really still on wrong (although it definitely was on wrong the very first time I put it on) and it's not leaking (even after doing the laundry), so maybe it's not going to be a problem.
J.
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wrote:

Darn, you beat me. One way to try to get a cross-threaded nut screwed on straight is to turn the nut counterclockwise, until you feel the thread of the nut go over thread of the other part. So then you know exactly where to start turning clockwise, and I was told and I think it has worked that way for me that it is easier to get the nut on straight that way.
Turning CCW gives one a chance to tell that the nut is resting on the other part evenly, all the way around.
I sometimes have to start several times, because I can't turn the nut a whole turn with one position of my fingers. So I do it until I start a quarter or half turn before, going backwards, the start of the thread.

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On Tue, 27 Mar 2007 16:29:21 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@malch.com (Malcolm Hoar) wrote:

Instead of an automatic shut-off, I'd like to get an automatic turn-on.
Do they have simple 110V valves that I could connect to the pipes before the hoses, which I could wire in parallel with the valves in the washing machine itself?
Then, whenever the washer turned the inner water valve on, hot or cold or both, it would also turn on the matching valve at the water pipe.
Any suggestions?
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I live in an older house and every time I have to touch a preexisting valve, I replace it with a ball valve. Of course this will be a little tricky on your condo if it has copper pipe. Another reason for the high estimates is that you may not have an individual shut off for your unit, and the whole building may need to be shut down to change the valve.
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<<Another reason for the high estimates is that you may not have an individual shut off for your unit, and the whole building may need to be shut down to change the valve.

There most certainly is an individual shutoff for my unit. I wouldn't buy a place that didn't have one.
Anyway, although the problem is currently fixed, I'm going to get another estimate Friday for the single lever watts, as well as replacing a couple other old valves with ball valves.
J.
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