HPAC Magazine

Water Treatment as a Profit Centre: An Untapped Opportunity for Plumbers and Mechanical Contractors

April 19, 2024 | By Paul Ethier, National Sales Manager (Canada) – Halo Water Systems

The Plumber Protects The Health of The Nation

One hundred years ago, the American Standard Fixture Company created a poster that to this day is displayed proudly in many of the plumbing and mechanical contractor shops I’ve had the honour of visiting across North America.  It pictures a plumber standing confidently with a sea of ordinary folks looking admiringly up at him.  At the top it reads, “The Plumber Protects the Health of The Nation”. In the century since that poster was commissioned, the nation still looks to its plumbers as a trusted figure in the community, looking out for the health and safety of the home and families they serve each day.  In this article my hope is to remind you of this fact, and to outline the ways you and your team can benefit from helping your customers improve the quality of the water in their home.

Where (and Why) To Begin?

Water quality is an issue that affects households, commercial properties, and industrial facilities across the country. The presence of bacteria, viruses, sediment, heavy metals, and chemicals in water can lead to a host of problems, including health risks, equipment damage, and reduced efficiency of water systems.  As a plumber, the treatment of these issues offers a lucrative opportunity to diversify and grow your business while also addressing environmental and health concerns for your customers. This article also aims to shed light on the many advantages of introducing water treatment into your day-to-day offering, arming you with the knowledge and motivation to grow your business.

Your customers want it… They just don’t know you have it

The average Canadian spends roughly $200 per year on single-use plastic bottles and an additional $500 per year on the 18.9L (5 Gal) water cooler bottles for their home.  The main reasons cited for this purchasing behaviour is convenience, health and improved taste of bottled water relative to their tap water.  The truth is, most homeowners are simply not aware that with one call to their trusted plumber, they can have an unlimited supply of highly filtered, bottled water quality water from every tap in their home, while also helping to reduce the impact of single-use plastics on the environment.  Bringing up water quality on every call and listening to the concerns of your customers can go a long way toward growing your business, expanding your presence in the home and continuing to build on that basis of trust.

Once you’ve made the decision to incorporate or expand the water treatment segment of your business, the next step is to train yourself and your team on the different water treatment methods available. By partnering with reputable water treatment suppliers, attending industry association workshops and seminars, and staying informed about the latest technologies and best practices in the industry, you can enhance your skills, knowledge, and confidence by delivering best-in-class water treatment solutions to your customers.

Just as no two plumbing jobs are ever the same, this maxim also applies to water quality, as no two water sources are the same.  Each issue is an opportunity to present a unique solution to the homeowner and to present options based on their preferences, priorities and of course, their budget.

The Big Three Water Quality Concerns

Though there are as many water quality concerns as there are solutions, there are three main issues that typically float to the top of every homeowner’s list:

Taste and Odour

The chief concern among homeowners today is the perceived poor taste and odour of the water coming into their home from their local treatment facility, as is evidenced by the multi-billion dollar bottled water industry that has sprung up over the past few decades. Thankfully chlorination is one of the simplest and most lucrative issues to address. To combat the potential adverse health effects of biological contaminates, the Canadian water quality guidelines suggest a free Cl- range of 1-3ppm in a municipal water system, while swimming pool guidelines are around the same range.  A simple test conducted on site by any plumber or apprentice will show to the homeowner that their water has a residual amount of chlorine to that of the average swimming pool!  A point-of-entry carbon backwashing system and an under-the-counter filtration or reverse osmosis system will easily take care of any taste or odour concerns your customers may have.

Hardness and Iron Staining

Hardness and Iron are typically found on well systems or in any groundwater source.  As water passes through the ground it picks up these minerals along the way.  Hardness minerals like calcium and magnesium can be easily removed by installing an ion exchange “softener” system.  Most of the softeners in use today are highly efficient and will even handle trace amounts of iron and manganese.  For water with higher levels of iron and manganese, there are filtration options that address those minerals specifically.  For water with a nuisance amount of hardness (i.e.: 15gpg or less), there are also some physical scale conditioning systems on the market that perform quite well in lieu of salt-based systems, provided that customer expectations are properly managed.

Bacteria and Other Biological Contaminates

Though chlorine is added by the municipalities to protect our drinking water, the public does not particularly enjoy drinking chlorinated water.  By removing the chlorine at the point of entry and installing an ultra-violet (UV) disinfection system, you are getting rid of the aesthetic issue of objectionable taste while continuing to protect the drinking water from biological contamination.  UV systems are a highly effective, chemical free method of inactivating bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms that may be present in the water.

Emerging Concerns – Forever chemicals, and micro-plastics

In the past decade, there are two new water issues that are quickly rising to the top of the list in terms of consumer health concerns – PFOS/PFAS or “forever chemicals” and micro-plastics, both of which are cause for alarm even when found in trace amounts.  PFOS/PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals that have been used in many products and industrial applications.  In water, these chemicals can pose significant health concerns, including liver damage, immunodeficiencies, adverse birth affects, among others.  The trace amounts of micro-plastics found in bottled water and even in municipal water sources have been one of the leading causes in consumers seeking other options for their drinking water.  In fact, the average North American consumes enough micro-plastics in a year in weight as a credit card!   Thankfully the water treatment industry has been on top of developing technologies that can reduce these harmful contaminates and are now readily available through most water treatment system suppliers.

In Conclusion

In an increasingly competitive market, differentiation is the key to attracting and retaining customers. By adding water treatment to your business, you can distinguish yourself from the competition by offering a full range of solutions to address all aspects of water management. Choosing to incorporate water treatment into your business presents plumbers and mechanical contractors like you with a unique opportunity to expand your service, enhance profitability, and make a positive impact on the environment and public health. It allows you to further build trust with your customers and secure long-term success in a competitive and ever-changing market. With the right mindset, resources, and dedication, you can unlock the full potential of water treatment services and reap the rewards that come with it.



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