Transcript: Joe "the Plumber" Wurzelbacher, 29 January 2009

Thom Hartmann talks with Joe "the Plumber" Wurzelbacher, back from the Middle East, working now with Pyjamas TV.

Thom Hartmann talks with Joe "the Plumber" Wurzelbacher, 29 January 2009


[Thom Hartmann]: And on the line with us, freshly back from the Middle East, working now with Pyjamas TV, ... "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher. Hey Joe, welcome to the show.

[Joe the Plumber]: Hey, thanks for having me, Thom, I appreciate it.

[Thom Hartmann]: Great to have you with us. Earlier this morning I spoke with former president Jimmy Carter about the situation in the Middle East and we're going to actually play that clip a little later on, but I'm wondering, you were just there, get your opinion on this, what's the state of plumbing in Israel? I've been around the Middle East, and it seems pretty varied. There are some places where it's just kind of squat ones, and others where there's flush ones, and how is it?

[Joe the Plumber]: Oh, everywhere I went they seemed to have working plumbing just fine. They actually use the same codes, had the same pipe diameters, actually I did take time to look at that, that we use here in America. So, you know, there's a little bit of difference, toilets aren't ? piece over there like they seem to be here in America some times; it's usable and it works, and that's what you need. So didn't see a lot of waste over there.

[Thom Hartmann]: You get out in some of the poorer areas, though, the old thing about the left hand and no toilet paper and everything. It can be kind of rough in some parts of the Middle East, I know, having been there. Our morning host, Carl Wolfson, I do a morning show on KPOJ here in Portland before we do this national show, and Christine Alexander also, my co-hosts both had questions for you. Here's Carl's question for you.

[Carl Wolfson]: I'm Carl Wolfson on the Morning Show at KPOJ radio and Joe, I'd like to ask you, there are a lot of stories about hot hunky plumbers being hit on out there. Tell us, maybe anecdotally, how often that happens and is there a way to kind of come on to a plumber in a work situation that's any better than any other technique?

[Thom Hartmann]: Joe?

[Joe the Plumber]: [laughs]

[Thom Hartmann]: It's a good one, isn't it?

[Joe the Plumber]: Well, every once in a while I did kind of make a joke with my boss and say, you know, you should make this the plumbing and dating service.

[Thom Hartmann]: Really!

[Joe the Plumber]: Yeah, there's actually quite a few opportunities. I mean, you go to a lot of different people's houses, you engage in conversation and talk with women and, I don't know. There's many times I had to sit there and decline nicely. It's not actually a great thing to happen, to be honest with you. It opens up the doors to too many bad things. So I just got real good at thanking them and declining them and moving on.

[Thom Hartmann]: Well that's good, you've been a gentleman throughout this. Here's Christine Alexander's question for you.

[Christine Alexander]: Joe, this is Christine Alexander from the AM620 KPOJ morning show and, you know, I'm new to this area and we had this big storm a few weeks ago and pipes froze. How can I avoid the pipes freezing in my house next time? 'Cause it was a big mess. And I thought that as a plumber maybe you could tell me.

[Thom Hartmann]: Most of the houses around here in Portland aren't all that well insulated, Joe.

[Joe the Plumber]: Well, I lived up in Alaska for years, North Dakota, pretty cold places. A lot of times if you're in doubt of your insulation of your pipes, leaving the water turned on to a trickle helps out tremendously. Also, I would recommend just calling your plumber up in the area and having that checked out, see if there are any draughts coming in through the walls, and keep that from happening. Usually it's caused by some type of draught coming in and freezing the pipes.

[Thom Hartmann]: I have a question. We're talking to America's plumber, "Joe the Plumber", He just came back from the Middle East. He's also doing some pretty interesting reporting on these issues. But Joe, I remember the days when Draino was lye crystals plus aluminum, which would boil like crazy, and it worked wonderfully except it just would rot your pipes out. And then they came out with this liquid plumber stuff which doesn't seem to work quite so well. What's the best thing to do when your drains are running slow or clogged up?

[Joe the Plumber]: Well, what I find the best thing to do is flush your pipes out. I always tell my customers at least once a week in the kitchen, usually that's where, you know, if you have a garbage disposal or ? you fill up both basins, or the single basin, with cold water, hot water really doesn't make a difference, and flush your pipes at least once a week, help that keep it going strong, because the food settles in the pipe and then creates blockages. So flushing the pipes out helps tremendously.

[Thom Hartmann]: Right, OK, good one. And my son, we had a toilet that wasn't flushing right and our son fixed it, and now that he's fixed it, you've got to hold the handle down through the whole flush to make it actually flush the whole way. What did he do wrong? What do I have to fix there?

[Joe the Plumber]: You probably have to adjust the flapper; the chain coming from the flapper attached to the handle is probably a little too loose. You need to tighten that up a little bit by taking the chain and putting it up on the toilet tank handle a little bit higher.

[Thom Hartmann]: So I stretch it out? I make it longer rather than shorter?

[Joe the Plumber]: Exactly.

[Thom Hartmann]: Yeah, OK. And what about low flush toilets? Are they actually more efficient?

[Joe the Plumber]: When they first came out the plumbing industry wasn't ready for them and so you had a lot of issues with them. But in the last couple of years they've really come out with some great flushing mechanisms; American Standard has one that has a three inch flapper and you get 1.6 gallons within a second so there's this great flush there. So a lot of them have come along. Mansfield's another really good one. It's a basic stool but it works really well. ? Truckers don't even break them, so they work well.

[Thom Hartmann]: Wow. Yeah, I noticed traveling in Europe years ago that the water just whooshed through them and it seemed like a lot less water, and ours kind of goes really slow and it's a lot of water, and that seems like it's not good for the environment, it's wasteful, it's expensive. So we're kind of catching up with the rest of them.

[Joe the Plumber]: To a degree, exactly. A lot of our plumbing we actually do get from Europe; a lot of our plastic that we've used, Europe's used for years. And once we were happy with it as far as it being used, we'd bring it over.

[Thom Hartmann]: Yeah. Fascinating stuff. Joe, I want to thank you for coming on the program and sharing your expertise with us and also for the reporting that you did from Israel., people can see all of your reports and get all the information. Joe the Plumber, it's been great having you on.

[Joe the Plumber]: Thanks a lot, Thom. You guys have a great day.

[Thom Hartmann]: Thank you. You too. Good talking with you.

Transcribed by Sue Nethercott.

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