Bob Baker has a love/hate relationship with CPVC tubing. On the one hand, the hard water in the Calgary area causes CPVC fittings to deteriorate pretty quickly. But on the other hand, that deterioration means his company, Baker Plumbing Inc., has a constant supply of work.
“We look after a dozen or so hotels in town, and they were all built maybe nine years ago by the same builder using CPVC tube. It’s something I hate!” Baker said. “We have some pretty hard water in Alberta, particularly in the Calgary area, so it’s hard on those CPVC fittings. It’s literally a steady stream of leaks that we deal with. We probably have 40-50 repairs a year on those dozen properties.”
Whenever Baker gets a call for another CPVC leak, he says, he rips out “as much as we can at that time” and replaces it with copper, complete with ProPress fittings.
“We used to solder, but now it’s press. Even if it’s a difficult spot to get to, we’re there for maybe an hour,” Baker said.
Before copper with ProPress, it was quite an ordeal. “You’d get a hot ticket from the building manager,” Baker said. “You’d have to tell the insurance company you were working in a combustible space with a torch. Everybody knew you were working, because they could smell it, and solder was inevitably dripping onto the carpet or the walls. Now that’s all non-existent.”
Baker said the amount of CPVC removed and replaced with copper depends on the situation, but they at least go fitting to fitting. Sometimes that’s only three feet, sometimes it’s 30. At one of the recent repairs, he replaced tubing off the main that branched to different parts of the hotel, so there were six or seven connections to be made.
And because he’s always working in the hallway ceiling of the finished hotel, quarters are tight, which makes him appreciate ProPress and his RIDGID tool even more.
“I’ve basically soldered upside down in the water kind of a thing! I’ve been asked if I was on drugs because I’d have scars on my forearms from the solder dripping on me,” Baker recalled. “You can’t move – you just watch it sizzle into your arm and grin and bear it. So, the beauty of ProPress is that I don’t have to worry about any of that.
“We clean the tubing the same way as with soldering, and I don’t have to worry about corrosive flux that might be in the water distribution system. And in a tight spot, instead of two hands and a torch, we have the one-handed press with the tools from RIDGID. I would hate to say that it’s ‘effortless,’ but compared to how I used to do it, it is.”
Baker Plumbing Inc. is a family affair, started back in 1956 by Baker’s grandfather. These days, Baker’s sons, Isaiah and Peter, are working for him, while his daughter, Brooklynn, recently came on as an apprentice. He’s had his children do some soldering so they can experience it and therefore have a better appreciation of the beauty of press and of how far their trade has come.