Online Plumbing Help Using a Virtual Plumber

Today’s Plumbing Story: “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”

Do you know why this person called for virtual plumbing help? Looking at this picture, you would think it’s the collapsed drain pipe that’s the issue. Well, they actually called because they couldn’t find the shut off for the water filter when they went to replace the filter.

Plumbing Help Online Free

After doing a search for “plumbing help online free” and searching through countless plumbing videos, they started looking on the internet for plumber options and came across my website, Virtual Plumbing Assistant.

First of all, I don’t know of any reputable plumber who works for free. But it’s amazing to see the suggested search term “plumbing help online free” pop up when searching for plumbers. In fact, I even did an article based on comparing myself to another online virtual service here. Every link I see points to either an ad or a “answer plumbing questions” chat that leads to a pay service anyway. There’s nothing wrong with that, but always know who you’re dealing with first.  You want a licensed plumber.

Ask a Plumber

Back to the story, sorry!

Instead of calling a plumber to come to their home, the Mrs. typed in “virtual plumber help” and up popped Virtual Plumbing Assistant. After looking through the website, she decided to try a virtual plumber and sent me a brief description and attached photo. I responded to her and set up an appointment for a virtual inspection. That’s why I started this website. Being a veteran professional plumber, I realized this was the easist, most convenient way to ask a real plumber for help.

Plumbing Inspection

When we connected virtually on her smartphone, we used her camera to inspect under her sink and then down into the basement and around her water heater in search of a way to turn the water off and the water pressure to her filter. The shutoff valve In the cabinet turned but didn’t turn the water off. Having found no shutoffs for the filter her only option was to turn the water off at the main, therefore turning all the house water off. Once we located the shutoff that was in good shape we were ready to do some work. She turned off the valve and then opened a faucet in the basement to relieve the pressure through the house.

Replacing the water filter was not a problem for her now because she had already read the instructions on how to flush it. I suggested installing a new shutoff for the filter and faucet for the next flush, but she decided that would be work for the future.

Ten minutes later, she was turning the water back on to the house. After flushing the new filter for a couple minutes she turned off the faucet and inspected the new filter for any leaks. Having found no leaks, we were done…well, we were done with that problem.

Other Plumbing Problems Spotted

When we were doing the virtual inspection, I noticed several possible issues that would need attention in the near future. The biggest issue was the sink drain; the drain in the sink cabinet was bent and almost collapsed, but the same drain in the basement was even worse (wish I had a picture). When asked how the sink was draining, she told me that when the dishwasher drained it, would back up into both sinks and then slowly drain down.

I gave her a quick overview on what needed to be done with the sink drain piping. Other than the bent piping, the drain needed dual traps and an air admittance valve since there wasn’t an existing vent on the drain line. I again suggested adding shutoffs for the faucet and filter but she was not ready to do that.

We decided on Virtual Plumbing Assistant putting together a parts list so she could have the parts ready before a second virtual call.

The Fix

It was about a week later I received another email from her. She started the repairs and found herself needing help. We again connected virtually and she showed me the progress she had made. The issue was where the original drain went through the cabinet floor into the basement. The new piping wasn’t lining up with the existing hole in the cabinet. Being able to see the plumbing virtually, I helped her reconfigure the new piping so everything lined up.

We also inspected the final drain connection in the basement so she was sure that she did it right. At the end of the conversation she said she would send a picture of the finished product. The shutoffs that needed replacing were now something she said she might try in the future and would let me know!

After two virtual calls and four emails she had completed two plumbing repairs for herself with a little virtual plumber help. Several days later, she sent me an updated picture of her repairs. I have to admit that the work she did was impressive.

Breaking Down the Cost of D.I.Y. Plumbing

Spending $75 dollars on virtual plumbing, and about $125 dollars on repair parts, and of course, her labor, she was able to do the repair for herself. In the upstate New York area, if she called plumbers to come and address both the water filter and drain line repair, the job would run about, doing it the way she had done it, $600-$900. That’s the average cost, some may be cheaper, but most would be quite a bit more! The cost of installing new shut offs for the kitchen faucet and filter would be about $400-$500 versus about $100 for a do it yourself price.


Yes, virtual plumbing isn’t for everyone, and for every job, but it does have its benefits! If you want advice on a plumbing related issue in your home, this is a good place to start.

Maybe you want to get an idea on what a specific repair might involve or possibly the amount that a certain repair might cost. Virtual Plumbing Assistant can help with that.

Possibly you need a little help when you are stuck on a repair and really don’t want to call plumbers to come to your home.

What virtual plumbing does the best is answering those questions that will help you decide the correct path to take. It may be calling a plumber, or just doing it yourself. Either way, you decide to go you will be informed and ready for the next step.

As Far as the Good, the Bad and Ugly

The good: She was able to repair the plumbing issues with some help from a virtual plumber. By doing this she saved quite a bit of money and she learned some things about plumbing. Not to mention that now she has confidence in herself. Plus if she has questions in the future she has someone to call for advice and reassurance!

The bad: Leaving plumbing issues unattended can be a problem in the future. If either the filter or the faucet has a major leak, and the water needs to be turned off quickly to stop a flood, she only has one option. The basement may not be far away but that extra time could make a big difference!

The ugly: They say “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Usually when a drain line is bad it is leaking, broken, or rusted apart. I’m not sure how this drain got to be in this shape, but it was a matter of time before it plugged and possibly overflowed the sink.

Enjoy the day!!

John Burr
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