Ron the plumber is in hot water
October 28, 2008
There are over 8,000 water heaters in the Park City. Their life expectancy is about 10 years. That means every year about 800 homes need new water heaters.
This is the revelation plumber and contractor Ron Brenner had after being asked to repair or replace water heaters again and again by neighbors, friends, clients everybody who knew him.
Each time, Brenner would have to drop everything he was doing remodeling a kitchen or bathroom and go back to his shop to grab a whole different set of tools and supplies.
"Most water heater problems are semi-emergencies. Hot water is pretty important," he said.
Finally, the proverbial light bulb when on and he began doing water heaters exclusively as Water Heaters Express.
Brenner has been a plumber for 26 years. He began in California and worked several years for a large contractor there. About nine years ago he decided to work for himself and live in beautiful Park City. A resident of Jeremy Ranch, he became a remodeling contractor doing bathrooms and kitchens until July of 2007 when Water Heaters Express began.
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Park City water is mostly from wells and is therefore heavy in minerals and very cold. More energy is required to heat it up and sediments collect in the bottom of the tank making it overheat, less efficient and leak sooner.
To fight the hard water, many homes in Summit County use softeners, he said, and these shorten the life of the water heater even faster.
In this line of work, customers go with the business that arrives the soonest, he said. So Brenner carries six water heaters in his truck at all times and on most calls can be there within an hour.
He carries the most commonly used 40 to 50 gallon gas-heated ones, but "tankless" heaters are the wave of the future, he said.
Popular in Europe and Japan for decades, tankless water heaters are catching on slowly in the U.S. Rather than keeping a standing supply of hot water in a tank, these water heaters use intense energy to heat water on demand. This infrequent but intense use of heat is actually more efficient and energy-saving.
A tankless heater is about double the cost of a regular one right now, but they pay for themselves in energy savings.
Brenner also believes rebates will be available soon to make them more affordable. As both presidential candidates talk about energy independence, he believes conserving energy will become a higher priority, and new technologies like these heaters will become competitive.
Because they’re made with copper or stainless steel, their life expectancy is also two or three times longer than traditional water heaters, he said.
Lou Moreno on Aerie Drive has known Brenner for 8 years and recently bought a tankless heater from him.
He said he was always impressed with Brenner as a contractor because he cleaned up after himself a courtesy not always common. He also remarked on Brenner’s rapid response when called upon to solve problems.
"He’s a good listener to the customer as to what the customer wants to accomplish, then he brings his experience for thoughtful recommendations," Moreno said. "He doesn’t just assume he knows what’s wrong or what you want."
Greg Richardson, another long-term client, said he thinks Brenner’s rapid response strategy is essential in this area with all the rentals and other vacationers who don’t have patience for a repair.
"He’s quick, efficient, shows up when he says, he’s clean, does what he says he’s going to do and then some. It’s hard to find a good reliable contractor, and he’s one of the best ones," Richardson said.
Water Heaters Express