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Chicago plumbers keep busy during COVID-19 pandemic

Last updated: 06-30-2020

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Chicago plumbers keep busy during COVID-19 pandemic

Plumbers in the Chicago area say they’ve had no shortage of work during the coronavirus pandemic because more people are staying at home, leading to plumbing problems for home toilets.

Before the pandemic began, many people used toilets at their workplaces during the day, but since many have been staying home that has placed a greater burden on their home plumbing.

“We’ve been incredibly busy — beyond belief. There’s a lot more toilets being flushed,” William Taylor, owner of Four Seasons Sewer & Plumbing on Chicago’s Northwest Side, told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Brian Wilk, owner of Bishop Heating, Plumbing and Cooling in Des Plaines, said people typically used bathroom facilities in the morning prior to going to work or school and then in the evening. But he noted that people adhering to Illinois’ stay-at-home order spurred more clogged drain lines.

Other clogs have been caused by people who defy the advice of plumbers by using paper towels or wipes that don’t dissolve like toilet paper.

There have also been children, bored with being home, who toss objects into the toilet. Rivera noted that he recently handled “a dozen of those little trolls that got flushed down the toilet. We were just pulling them out hair by hair.”

Initially, many people were hesitant to allow plumbers into their homes because of concerns about COVID-19. But backlogs of repairs started accumulating, according to plumbers, and business returned once workers began wearing face masks and business owners added contactless payment.

“About a week into May, the phones were ringing off the hook and we have been very busy ever since,” says David Ariano, owner of Ravinia Plumbing, Sewer, Heating & Electric in Lincolnshire.

Commercial clients are also keeping plumbers busy, doing things like adding washing sinks at factories and retrofitting toilets and sinks so they’re touch-free, according to Mike Mannion, director of new business at Garces Contractors on the city’s West Side.

In other instances, the housebound are viewing their bathrooms with a renewed and critical eye. Byran Henderson of Big Wrench Plumbing & Sewer in South Holland said he’s getting more renovation calls.

“They’ve had time to look at their house,” Mascari says, and start thinking: “‘Why don’t I replace these toilets? They’re old.’”

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