A local handyman recently got a rude awakening from the State Plumbing Board of Louisiana.
"All this came to light one day when I went out to my mailbox and I had a nice little letter from the State Plumbing Board saying that we're fining you $500 for having the word plumbing in your Craigslist ad," said local handyman John Myatt.
You see, John's a handyman not a plumber. And, there's a big difference.....
Of course, if you're a homeowner you can get down underneath a sink and do any kind of work that you want to. But, if you're going to pay somebody to do the work underneath a sink....it's not supposed to be a handyman, it's supposed to be a licensed plumber.
"The rules and regulations have become so strict now that unless you're a licensed plumber and want to spend 4,000 hours in order to get your plumbers license, you cannot even move a toilet, you cannot move a pea trap, fix a leak in a sink, change a faucet or anything else that a basic homeowner would be able to do," said Myatt.
"Yeah, he goes there just to fix a leak under a sink and then he realizes he's trying to tighten this nut.....well, it breaks, then you gotta break the trap and that's where you mess up. You break a trap, or cut the water off or take a valve off...that's where it'll get you," said Robert Brown of Robert Brown Plumbing in Bossier City.
Robert Brown, a master plumber in Bossier City, has seen it all when it comes to plumbing issues brought on by people who are not licensed to do the work.
"Where we see that a lot of times is where people go in and flip houses. You got handyman's that come in there, and I'm not saying everybody does that, we do a lot of work for people that flip houses. Some people do it right, some people use a handyman. If you use a plumber, you've got something to fall back on. If it's not right, you can go to the state and say hey he messed my job up. You get a handyman, he's got no insurance, he got no license so you got nothing to fall back on. They always ask me, so what can I do? There's nothing you can do!" said Brown.
As of January 2017, the state plumbing board requires completion of an approved apprenticeship before qualifying for the licensing exam. And plumbers also must complete continuing education before their license is renewed annually.
Some believe small plumbing jobs could be taken care of by a handyman that has the experience and would only require some kind of license or certification to do those less complicated jobs. But right now there is no legal avenue for that to happen. You're either a plumber or your not. John would like to change that.
"So we want to work people like the State Plumbing Board, the Board of Contractors and Licensing and stuff to get some of the regulations that are in the law changed. Organize, bring this situation out to the public. If somebody can afford to have a plumber come in and do this kind of work that's great, but there's a lot of people out there that we do good work for that we're their heroes; we're there angels," said Myatt.
John asked for an extension to pay his $500 fine to the State Plumbing Board. They gave him 30 days, and he plans on paying it.
If you'd like to find out more about John's efforts on behalf of the handyman in Northwest Louisiana, he's just launched a website called louisianahandyman.org.