The U.S. economy in 1980 was stagnant. There was very limited construction going on in Lincoln and many were getting laid off. Bob Converse, my mentor, and good friend asked me to relocate to Ottumwa, Iowa to help manage a hospital construction project. Bob was protecting me and I respectfully owed him an answer.

Deb and I loved Lincoln so the decision of whether or not to relocate was challenging. We did the “logical” thing and flipped a coin in our living room to make this life-changing decision. We “lost” and were Ottumwa bound.

Housing was next to impossible to find in Ottumwa because it was needed for a nearby power plant project. Deb and I found a dated home in need of tender loving care. It would have been a challenge for HGTV remodeling shows. Interest rates were 18% and the positive news was we managed to purchase our home with a 10% land contract. Imagine being happy about a 10% interest rate?

I started remodeling our home by preparing the interior to paint. While scraping the loose paint from the living room picture window, my putty knife went all the way through the window trim which then exposed an active termite trail. That hollow trail led down a stud in the wall and to 2” x 12” structural supports that were full of termite damage. The termite trail then led outside to a mud tunnel down a foundation wall. It was hidden behind a bush!

After some hard labor and about $800 worth of materials, I had the termite problem fixed. It was another message from the school of hard knocks, “look closely for telltale signs while making important decisions.”

Those hidden telltale signs are all around us. Plumbing telltale damage signs are similar to termite damage because it is often difficult to see.

It takes professionals to evaluate the extent of damages. For instance, when a toilet is flushed the water may swirl around and slowly go down. There are numerous reasons for this. At best, it could be just a temporary blockage like toilet paper or a toilet needing adjusting.

It also could be a telltale sign the main sewer may become plugged soon. If the basement floor drain is backing up also, it’s time to call the plumber to get the sewer main cabled, flushed, and inspected with a sewer camera before the basement is full of sewage!

Sewers that fail to drain properly, typically have breaks or other problems that will never go away. Sometimes the sewer tap breaks away from the City sewer main. Tree roots can completely block the sewer. Low spots from improper installations also occur. The list goes on. The reality is that 99% of the time something is majorly wrong if sewers plug.

Once a sewer has a documented problem that has not been repaired, it can also become a legal issue during the sale of a home if not disclosed properly. If you request a home inspection when purchasing a property, it makes sense to have the main sewer inspected with a sewer camera.

If a problem sewer is not repaired it should be regularly inspected, cabled, and flushed. A Plumbing Service Maintenance Agreement for as low as $240 is a great way to get a plumbing professional to your home annually to evaluate plumbing risks like this and others. For instance, washing machine hoses need to be replaced every five years. Water heaters need to be drained and flushed annually or they will fail quicker.

Other telltale signs professionals watch for are brown crusty materials on top of water heaters that are not drafting flue gases properly. The water heater burner should be cleaned and then checked for high levels of carbon monoxide.

A John Henry's Plumbing, Heating, Air, and Electrical’s Plumbing Service Maintenance Agreement includes the most important checks and repairs to provide peace of mind. It also provides a quicker response time, plus a 10% discount on labor and parts.

Relocating to Ottumwa was a great experience overall. We developed friendships and enjoyed that moment in time.

The Ottumwa Hospital remodel project lasted 27 months and they offered me the maintenance manager job when it was over. The job offer was a compliment, but something more important than a career was calling our family that had grown to four back to Lincoln.

There were strong “telltale signs” indicating Lincoln was our true home. We were drawn to this incredible community and never looked back. There truly is no place like home… Lincoln, Nebraska!

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