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January 2003: Volume 45, Number 1

Aplomb with the Idea of Plumbing—Two Sites Pipe Up about the Industry
by Ronald Y. Pérez, WC&P Managing Editor

If paradise to you meant finding a 100-piece, socket wrench set under your Christmas tree, then this column may be for you. Or, if you continually lose sleep the night before a 6 a.m. jaunt over to Home Depot, then read on. Or maybe you are one of those people who, even with all those subtle (and not-so-subtle) hints for some new tools, received nothing but a rag-tag tie and some Hickory Farms gift set that was most likely purchased on Dec. 26…1999. As opposed to past columns, I will come clean with only the very bad and very good features of each site.

www.plumbing-info.com
This site greets me with a daily from famous people such as Teddy Roosevelt, John Hoyer Updike and Peter McIntyre. Peter McIntyre? And neither quote has anything to do with plumbing, water or even plungers. Oh well. At first, I thought this might be an "order online" catalog of fittings, valves and the like, but I was pleasantly mistaken. Instead, it brings a multitude of resources for the plumbing industry including a respectable news section, trade services (trade shows, FAQs, links) and, not to be outdone, a tools section.

A few sections of this site require membership, which can be done in a couple of minutes…for free. A variety of new technologies is also listed. Some of these are just too good to pass up. A composting toilet, a flushless and chemical-free urinal and, as a sign of the times, a terror-resistant air conditioning system. Of course, there are some other standard fare products from companies such as Pentair, Hanna Instruments and Osmonics.

According to the website, a few new features have been added. One of them, called "points to ponder," gives me the impression of an extension of more inspirational quotes from other famous people. Nowhere close. The ideas presented here look similar to our Creative Marketing column and are designed to lend water treatment dealers and plumbers some tips on how to run their businesses better. Topics include how to beat procrastination, becoming a great leader, sales management, among others. Lastly, a country profile section highlights a different country each week, but little of the text involves the plumbing industry.

www.guidetoplumbing.com
For the weekend warriors out there, you are more likely to bookmark guidetoplumbing.com. Yet, this site is also so much more. A parts directory is provided for separate categories—bathroom, kitchen, plumbing and water treatment. I click on water treatment and, much to my disappointment, it gives nothing more than a short listing of companies (Premier Water Systems, National Testing Labs and PurTest) pitching their products.

For the DIY public, many tips can be had at the site. It even breaks it down for you among types of rooms/areas—bathrooms, electrical, floors and kitchens. In addition, some more plumbing site links and bathroom sites are at a visitor's fingertips. Easily overlooked, other nuances include a dictionary, a news section, a web search and even a weather button. I guess you might want to know if it's the right time to work on the sauna's gazebo roof before heading out with your tools.

Not to be outdone by plumbing-info.com and its quote of the day, this site gives us this: "The Romans used lead pipes, and the word plumber comes from the Latin word for lead, plumbum." No, this won't help you in clearing the clean-out, but it may win you a certain type of beverage at your favorite watering hole. If frustration should ever overcome you at this site, feel free to buy some stocks at the business link under "all subjects." Actually, this may only put you deeper asunder. Better yet, check the latest updates on your favorite college basketball team (sports) or read the latest 411 on Hollywood celebrities (society).

Conclusion
Both sites approach plumbing and the industry in very different ways, but each has its own upsides as tools for professionals looking to finish a project, purchase some products online or with help in understanding a water treatment problem. Or, if you are one of the lucky few, perhaps you are trying to forget that unforgivable Christmas gift from that cousin you luckily see only once a year.

Down to the Nuts & Bolts
www.plumbing-info.com
Just enough levity here to keep things interesting and not so technical. An offer for a newsletter increases the news quotient of the site, clearly its most developed feature. Looking for a particular tool application? This site may not help directly but will steer you in the right direction.

www.guidetoplumbing.com
More product-related than anything else. Have a bathroom project waiting to be tackled? Say no more and click over to several links that will definitely help. As strictly a plumbing site, it falls short because it spends too much space on topics that have absolutely nothing to do with plumbing.