The Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association and its SAFE GUARDS consumer awareness campaign are now accessible via the Internet, thanks to an enterprising plumber in Washington state. Internet pioneer Hill Daughtry of Hill’s Plumbing in Vashon Island, Wash., claims to have created the first plumbing oriented home page on the Net in the spring of 1995. More recently, he began including a “GAMA Safety Tip” icon within his company’s site on the World Wide Web (titled “theplumber.com”).
“The Safe Guardian,” presents a safety message along with the familiar SAFE GUARDS’ red and white logo and information on how to contact GAMA. One recent safety tip stressed how quickly a baby’s skin will severely burn in scalding water: only a half second in 150° F water, in contrast to four minutes in water at 120°F.
INTERNATIONAL CONNECTIONS: Besides touting its own services, the Hill’s Plumbing Home Page offers a variety of intriguing electronic links to other plumbing businesses manufacturers, wholesalers and fellow plumbers. Offering information on products and other services, Daughtry’s roster of links is truly an international affair, featuring organizations based in England, Japan and even New Zealand as well as in the United States. Everyday plumbing problems are a routine part of Mr. Daughtry’s electronic neighborhood. Consumers can use the site to ask questions about product and technical problems. Hill will either respond to these queries himself or forward them to other plumbers linked to theplumber.com . He may also send them to one of two “newsgroup” discussion areas connected to his home page: “alt.home.repair” and “misc.consumers.house.” As an additional aid to consumers, Daughtry has created a “Plumbing FAQ” that lists the most frequently asked questions and answers about products and their applications.
Theplumber.com will also route you to the latest information on current industry affairs, such as the ongoing controversy in polybutylene piping systems. But you need not confine your curiosity to the present or even to plumbing. Daughtry’s “Ever Changing Web Sites List” allows visitors to obtain information on science, art, women’s resources, worldwide travel, current events, movies, television and even something called Kids Links. “It’s just fun stuff,” he explains, “something to make people keep coming back to our site.” Then again, maybe you want to brush up on plumbing technology in ancient Babylonia or Crete. Or perhaps you’ve always wondered what kind of fixtures and faucets Bill and Hillary are using in the White House. Daughtry offers a baker’s dozen of excerpts from the “History of Plumbing,” an occasional series originally published in Plumbing and Mechanical magazine, a Chicago based trade publication for contractors.
“I get about 30 emails a day from all over the world,” Daughtry told the editors of that magazine recently. “Some of the questions are as basic as how to rough in a low boy toilet to ‘I’m building a brand new high end house, and I need radiant heat, so how do I size it?”‘
EYE CATCHING: Daughtry became interested in GAMA’s SAFE GUARDS campaign last November after receiving our first newsletter in the mail. A short article on the critical relationship between water heater tank size and water temperature caught his eye. Daughtry hadn’t realized that when dialing down the thermostat from 140°F to the recommended 120°F, a plumber must replace an existing 40 gallon heater with a 50 gallon model to generate the same volume of hot water.
“I got excited about learning some thing new and figured other plumbers might feel the same way,” he explains. “Also, l figured the newsletter’s graphics would attract attention among consumers and tradesmen on the Internet.”
Launched last May, theplumber.com drew 20,000 electronic visitors through the end of December. Daughtry estimates that he’s logging four to five hours every morning on Internet related activities before starting work on his everyday plumbing business.