Quality materials and good design are only as valuable as the level of craftsmanship applied to their installation. I pride myself on the level of expertise and attention to detail that goes into any job I do, big or small.

I have been involved in the plumbing business for over a decade. The initial development of my knowledge, and skill was facilitated by Berkeley-based contractor Reid J. Miller, a master plumber and sole proprietor with over 25 years of experience.

Please call me to schedule a walk through, my contact info is available at the link to the right. I am happy to offer my experience as a repair specialist or will provide guidance as you make important choices during the remodel planning process. I will work with your ideas, and assist your design professional in taking your project from the conceptual stage to the finished form.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

For The Sheer Filth Of It!

Location: Fremont Street Oakland, CA

Working all day to get the job done is sometimes a trial of wills. And this particular project was one that stands out as a testament to just how dirty a guy can get.

Crawl spaces can be a challenge, and Deirdre's was no treat. After a couple of hours I felt as if I'd been transmogrified; a fine powdery dust clung to the beads of sweat that were pouring out of me as I slithered under the joists of her bungalow. I changed my shirt at lunchtime; this made me feel civilized, if only for a few minutes as I inhaled a sandwich and drained two quarts of water down my throat. Back to work.

The access was so restricted that I could not roll over unless I positioned myself lenghtwise in a joist bay–the only place I could get my shoulders rotated beneath the sub floor. Hours pass unnoticed when you're working in the darkness beneath a home. It was so filthy and dry under there that I emerged dazed after what seemed like a week trapped in a mine. Claustrophobic and panting, I wriggled up to the outer world. It was nearly evening.

Time in a crawlspace will do funny things to you. And when you emerge, colors leap out, densely saturated, to startle the imagination. The outlines of trees are brighter; the chatter of children trailing home in bands plays like a hymn. You realize that this world with all its shams and troubles is more beautiful and prescious the dirtier you get. God it is good to just take a breath of open air.

So I stood there, soaked through with sweat, plastered head to toe with a brown paste… and I stood, staring at the yellow painted boards of that house, at those greenest of green leaves. I marveled at the breeze stirring an unbroken conversation with the limbs above me. Hard work is noble and often it leads you to appreciate the simple wonders. It was a satisfying day.

Installing an on-demand water heater necessitates water supply work, gas re-piping, and the installation of a weatherproof electrical circuit.

It's all in a day's work: Of particular importance when installing a tankless water heater is upgrading the natural gas supply to a dedicated high volume feed which insures ample fuel will be supplied to the burner at peak demand. You must then relocate hot and cold water lines and get an electrical circuit set up to power the ignitor. It all culminates 10 hours later when I bring the new system online.

Well, let's just say there's nothing instantaneous about installing a new on demand water heater, but it is truly amazing to watch one of these compact devices raise the temperature of incoming water more than 60 degrees as it flows through the burn chamber in real time. Heating with an on demand system saves prescious resources while reducing the production of greenhouse gases. Because there is no standing pilot light to waste fuel and no tank of hot water sitting there radiating heat loss, use of this method represents a major advance in efficiency. The front end cost may be high, but the collective steps we take to conserve resources can add up dramatically and keep the home place livable for the coming generation.

This is the stuff that legends are made of. Back home, Chloe and Lauren took one look at me and errupted into uncontrollable fits of laughter. After the second shower I was recognizable. Then the girls and I went out into the backyard and burned my clothes…

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Grizzly Peak Century 2006

Chowing down at the Briones rest stop mile marker 58, just a couple of monster hills to go. Chloe and I think that the final Glorietta/Rheem ascent is tougher than McEwen.
— Andrew & Chloe's North Loop Road report.
This year Chloe and I pedaled our way through the morning loop of the Gizzly Peak— on a tandem— no more tag-a-longs for us. Chloe's legs are longer, stronger and with the seat all the way down she fits just perfectly. The Santana was an unexpected late addition to our stable, given to us just two weeks ago by one of my clients, Pat and Rosario, who both play tennis with grandma Lillian.
Chloe & I finished the north loop which is a metric century that winds through Western Contra Costa County today in under 6 hours with more than 5,500 feet of climbing under our belts. She was the stoker— I was the joker, and whenever we needed a lift we made it happen together. Chloe did her job with enthusiasm. Of course cookies and fresh fruit at all the rest stops, and the big BBQ lunch at the end were the clinchers.
At the intersection of Wildcat Canyon and San Pablo Dam Roads 21 miles into the ride.
We really had a great ride, and they made a sensible move by relocating the third rest stop from the sun-baked summit of Momma Bear down to a shady oak grove in Briones Regional Park! Grandpa John and Phil were still out on the second loop with one of John's former firehouse mates up to ride with him today from southern California. We pushed off shortly before they did early this morning and we never saw them again! We were cruising, and it felt wonderful flying down those long steep straightaways, then battling our way up another gut-wrenching grade. Chloe is really proud of herself. As for me, I was just along for the ride.

Monday, April 17, 2006

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