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Frequently Asked Questions Answered
by Bekmar Plumbing & Heating in Calgary

We understand that you're busy, so here are some ready answers to the most common plumbing contractor questions recieved by Bekmar Plumbing & Heating.

Q: What are the health benefits of a steam shower and how do I get one installed in my home?

Answer: We've noticed a steady increase in calls for steam shower installations in Calgary, which is basically an upgrade to just about any walk-in shower installation or reno project that makes your enclosed shower double as a steam sauna. People are becoming more health conscious these days so there's a growing awareness that steam showers are more about a healthy lifestyle, less about simple indulgence.

Saunas and steam baths have a celebrated history as a leisure-time activity for relaxing and reducing stress. In fact, the benefits of saunas have been well documented since the Roman Empire.

But in recent years, medical science has been able to uncover the therapeutic mechanisms in play with steam. This includes things like detoxification, arthritic pain relief and improved cardiovascular function.

More recently, studies have shown that steam bathing on a regular basis provides performance enhancement for athletes. Gains include "heat acclimation" and "hyperthermic conditioning" as well as a boost in natural growth hormone (HGH) that builds muscle and slows aging.

There's some great reading on the subject by Dr. Joseph Mercola at mercola.com and by Dr. Julian Whitaker at drwhitaker.com, the latter of which includes some impressive results from the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project where steam therapy sessions were used as a protocol to help eliminate toxins in 9/11 Rescue Workers.

So yes, the science is in: steam is good.

If you want to install a steam shower in your home, however, it needs to be done properly or all those benefits will amount to nothing. A steam shower is basically an upgrade to a regular walk-in shower with the steam functions built right in. We strongly suggest hiring a professional, reputable contractor for the job. After all, a steam shower produces a lot of extra humidity, ideal conditions for mould growth, which is obviously very bad for your health and can ruin your entire home as well.

Proper ventilation is crucial, among other things, including a properly configured fresh air intake vent and an outlet to expel moisture. A steam shower installation is definitely a project where you want to "sweat the small stuff," which is why hiring a good contractor is essential.

On the plumbing side of it, we've tackled many such projects for new home construction and renovations contractors, most often using ThermaSol's excellent Steamshower Systems and sometimes with Relax-a-Mist Quality Steam Bath Equipment, which is also a quality steam shower brand.

Regardless of where you want to install your steam shower - upstairs in the master bath or down in that unfinished basement project - you need to meet all building code requirements for construction, including the electrical and plumbing installation. You'll need to obtain a building permit as well.

None of those things make installing a steam shower particularly difficult. With proper planning, the right materials and professional installers on the job, the process is usually pretty straight forward while the results are tremendously beneficial in so many ways.

Q: In Calgary, what's the better in floor heating option: electric or hydronic?

Answer: When deciding on infloor heating for your new home construction or existing home renovation, you should consider the initial installation cost, the operating cost, and the performance of each system.

Electric floor heating is less expensive to install than hydronic (hot water piping) and is much simpler to maintain. The downside of electrical infloor heating is the operating costs: Electricity is much more expensive than natural gas - 2 or 3 times more, usually.

As for performance, both electrical and hydronic are great systems. They both provide "radiant" heat from the subfloor up, meaning heat spreads out and warms everything in the room(s) - walls, furniture, people - unlike forced air heat which simply warms the air in blasts and then rises to the ceiling or attic. Infloor heating also provides greater comfort with consistent ambient heat and no convection drafts to speak of. It is also much more efficient as the energy in the pipes (hydronic) or wires (electric) is directly transferred to the floor with almost no losses and then radiant outward from there in all directions.

For little areas such as bathrooms, electric is the way to go. It is cost effective to install while month to month operating costs will only make a negligible bump up in your utility bill because the area is so small (compared to the rest of the house).

For larger areas such as an entire floor or structure, hydronic heating is far superior to electric. This types of system is installed in conjunction with the primary heating system (forced-air, usually) or is the primary heating system.

Hydronic infloor heating is more expensive to install than electric but will save money in monthly utility costs for many years into the future. This unusually equates to 15 - 30% in savings over forced-air heat and 200 - 300% over electric infloor heating.

Q: Why should I choose Bekmar Plumbing & Heating?

Answer: We believe customers choose Bekmar because they are looking for 3 key qualities in a plumbing company.

1. Competent People

The most important factor in choosing service provider - and especially a plumber - is competence. If a plumbing company sends a careless or inexperienced plumber out to a job and a mistake is made, it costs the company money to fix the mistake. What's worse is that particular mistakes can result in a leak, and even a small leak can cause significant damage to property. This is not only costly but embarrassing. While Bekmar and most reputable service providers are insured for such scenarios - along with manufacturer defects and other potential issues beyond our control - we ensure our plumbers have the skill, training and desire to do their job effectively in the first place.

2. Great Service.

Communication and efficiency are vital aspects of providing great service. It is our job to communicate with our customers and really listen to what they need. We take the extra time to explain what we are doing and how it will be done for the purpose of managing the expectations of the customer. We then efficiently execute the job exactly as described, which results in great service and absolute customer satisfaction.

3. Fair pricing.

Bekmar customers understand the difficulty of both finding and retaining competent people in the restless jobs market of Alberta. By Bekmar standards, great plumbers are rare so in order to retain their employment with us, we pay them well. This hard cost is realized in the end price to our customers who are willing to pay fairly for the great staff we've found and retained.

More importantly, our employee's incentive for working with Bekmar is aligned with our customer's reasons for hiring us. We have internal bonus structures that ensure our plumbers are building long term relationships with our customers. It is critical that each job, big or small, is successful because it can lead to future business. Our goal is "customers for life" and the only way to achieve this is to ensure our plumbers' compensation is tethered to the long term relationship they help build with our customers.

Q: Why do plumbers cost so much?

Answer: The true cost of a professional service is determined by 3 main factors:

Overhead

All professional plumbing service providers incur overhead expenses; a shop, office staff, insurance, vehicles, and trained plumbing technicians are all part of it. The team of people ready to serve the customer require infrastructure to operate. This includes the literal "brick and mortar" shop, but more importantly, it is the systems and processes that differentiate the professionals from the amateurs.

Level of Responsibility

The price paid for a service provider is directly related to the level of responsibility required. Consider it proportionate to how much will be lost if the service provider does not do the job properly. For simple tasks like house cleaning, it can be okay to hire an amateur. Generally, the worst thing that happens is you have to pay someone else to re-clean your house — not too big of a deal. But for complicated tasks like heart surgery, it's probably a good idea to seek a professional.

Plumbers fall somewhere between these two extremes, depending on the task. The most distinguishable characteristic about plumbing versus the other trades is when we make a mistake, it damages property — which can get really expensive. Even though a plumbing task may appear really simple, all it takes is one small leak to cause a disaster. When it comes to water, water always wins, so you're paying for a trained professional who takes the responsibility seriously; who is fully accountable for the work performed.

Supply and demand

Here is the reality: Professional plumbers who pay attention to detail and persist to execute are rare and economic law dictates they get paid accordingly. You cannot get more for less. The true cost of a service is more than just the sticker price.

John Ruskin (1819 - 1900) Social Critic and Reformer, on The Lowest Bidder explains it succinctly:

It's unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money - that's all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot - it can't be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.

Q: Do you offer financing for plumbing repairs, renos and other projects?

Answer: Yes, we certainly do! Bekmar Plumbing & Heating offers several financing options on all plumbing and heating repairs, renos and new construction projects in partnership with TD Financing Services.

As an authorized TD Financing Services dealer, Bekmar Plumbing & Heating is able to offer a bi-weekly or monthly payment plan suited to your budget. Whether you're looking to make some stylish home improvements or much-needed repairs, an easy payment plan is the way to go. It's the affordable way to increase the resale value of your home or simply make it more enjoyable and stress-free.

Call us today at (403) 667-1913 or email to discuss a financing plan that works best for you.

Q: I seem to have a small leak but I'm not sure where it's coming from so I don't know if I have a big project on my hands or not. Can you just find the leak for me and then estimate the cost to fix it or leave it to me to repair myself?

Answer: Leaks can be devious, showing as mysterious stains on a ceiling or puddles on the floor where there is no plumbing in site. This stems from the fact that the source of a leak may be far removed from where water eventually pools. Intended or not, water will flow down the path of least resistance, often trickling down piping or wiring until it's stopped by a barrier like a ceiling panel, wall board or floor.

Bekmar Plumbing & Heating has tackled many such mysteries. Finding leaks and other mysterious plumbing issues are routine service calls. Often the leak is, indeed, a simple, straightforward repair. Otherwise, we will provide a repair or replacement estimate on the spot for your consideration.

Call us today at (403) 667-1913 or email for a quick and painless fix-a-leak inspection or repair service call.

Q: Do you install water softeners?

Answer: Yes! Bekmar Plumbing & Heating installs water softeners for both residential and commercial applications.

We are certified installers of AquaMaster PRO, the premier, Canadian-made water softeners renowned for their patented, high efficiency design that conserves water and salt during regeneration, and WaterBoss® whole-home water treatment systems.

Bekmar Plumbing & Heating provides full installation of these award-winning systems. Call us today at (403) 667-1913 or email for more information.

Q: We would like to get a patio heater that can run off the natural gas line for our barbeque, but all we can find for sale around Calgary are propane patio heaters, which we don't want. Can you help?

Answer: Yes! Though not commonly available at department stores or hardware stores, there are several natural gas patio heaters on the market. Bekmar Plumbing & Heating can present you with a number of different patio heater solutions suited to both your outdoor setting and your budget.

A natural gas patio heater, fire table or outdoor fireplace is always more cost-effective than portable propane tank solutions — and certainly more convenient — as they feed off of your continuous natural gas supply line, which costs less and never runs out. These natural gas patio heater solutions are ideal for outdoor entertaining on cool Calgary evenings.

Call us today at (403) 667-1913 or email for more information.

Q: How is using a licensed plumbing company like Bekmar Plumbing & Heating different from just hiring a plumber from the classifieds?

Answer: It's true that there are many independent plumbers out there that seem to cost less, are self-employed or just do plumbing jobs for "friends of friends." And it's true that some of them are very good at their trade. However, using a licensed plumbing company like Bekmar Plumbing & Heating will bring certainties you won't get anywhere else.

For one thing, Bekmar Plumbing & Heating and licensed plumbing companies like it are required by law to be operated by a Certified Master Plumber. In turn, this is the only way to secure City of Calgary plumbing permits and a Worker's Compensation Board (WCB) account as well as attain liability insurance and meet other professional requirements for running a legal plumbing, gasfitting, and pipefitting business.

The Certified Master Plumber is also the only one authorized to hire Journeymen and Apprentice Plumbers for the company and is thereafter accountable for them and their coverage under the company's liability.

In hiring the professional plumbers of a licensed plumbing company, you'll have the confidence of knowing you have a business that stands behind its work and its workers.

Ironically, Bekmar Plumbing & Heating is often called upon to redo or complete the projects that so-called "cheaper" plumbers have messed up and left behind. We also acquire the necessary plumbing permits to get the job done right, safely, neatly and legally even after someone else's work has been done, done badly or only half done, whatever the case may be. Bekmar Plumbing & Heating can do this because it's a licensed plumbing company operated by a Certified Master Plumber.

 

Q: We're thinking of buying an older home that's been renovated. Do we need to have the plumbing inspected before we make our decision?

Answer: You are not legally required to have the plumbing inspected, but you might want to talk to your insurance company as "unknowns" like hidden plumbing work can seriously affect your premiums. More than that, however, it's highly recommended. A renovation can often look spectacular while hiding poor workmanship behind the walls and under the floors or ground.

Bekmar Plumbing & Heating offers its Licensed Plumbing Inspection services in Calgary for just this sort of thing. We don't necessarily punch holes in the walls or dig up basements to do it, either. Instead, our Certified Master Plumber can make a detailed assessment using non-invasive techniques and state-of-the-art equipment like camera snakes and thermal imaging.

It's often the case that we'll find only small or inconsequential plumbing faults that should be remedied eventually while immediately helping you to negotiate a better price for the home, with documented evidence to back up your adjusted offer.

In the event our licensed plumbing inspection does reveal an illegal, unsafe or failed plumbing and heating system, you'll be free to walk away before your dream home turns into a nightmare.

Plumbing Questions Answered

Calgary Plumbing Contractor, Master Plumber

Jesse Martini
Owner, Master Plumber
Bekmar Plumbing & Heating

Serving Calgary with superior plumbing services since 2007

Contact Bekmar Plumbing & Heating

To contact us with questions or to book a free estimate, please call (403) 667-1913, email us at

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