Knee Deep: Den Ketelaar Plumbing

Knee Deep: Plumbing

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - If you're like me, you have no idea how the majority of things work in your house. I bought my first home in Grand Rapids, Michigan about a year ago and, thankfully, have had minimal problems since moving in.

However, there have still been a few hiccups.

Being so new to adulting*, I did what anyone would do when something breaks... I called my parents and asked them who to call to fix it.

The first few things all fell under the plumbing category. Luckily, the man who came to my house was extremely friendly and helpful. With as many questions as I asked, he stayed patient and answered every single one, no matter how obvious the answer was.

This got me thinking... how many people are like me? How many people have, pretty much, no grasp on how things, that we consider, basic necessities get done?

There are so many working people in our community that are taken for granted. Their jobs are labor intensive with long hours -- often messy and in inclement weather. That's the point of this new series, Knee Deep.

I want to show my appreciation for the men and women who do these jobs.

With my recent experience with plumbing problems in my own home, I figured that was the best place to start. So, I asked around the newsroom and one of our producers, Denise, said she knew just the company, Den Ketelaar Plumbing.

When I called Kevin, the owner, he gave me a little laugh and said he had plenty of sites that would give me a good idea of what they do on a daily basis. We scheduled the story and that was it!

Photojournalist Evan Linnert and I showed up to the warehouse around 7:45 a.m. and the crews were already preparing to leave for the day. We met the crew we'd spend the day with, Jim Theese and Absalom Mueller, and began.

Jim showed me around the warehouse and then let me help load the truck. This is no small feat.

They were loading their truck for two jobs that day -- we'd only be along for the first, an "underground." If you're unsure what that is (like I was) it's the, "installation of the plumbing that's underneath your concrete floor," Theese told me.

We walked around the warehouse collecting pipes, bits, pumps -- everything but the kitchen sink (that's a plumbing joke).

Once we loaded up the truck, we left for the day. Jim told me undergrounds normally take a few hours. This is only if everything goes the way it should. Unfortunately, it rained the weekend prior which meant there was A LOT of water that needed pumped out before the work could even begin.

First things first... we dug trenches to a corner where the pump sat. While the water was pumping out, Jim laid out the bathroom walls.

A couple hours later, we were ready to start cutting and laying pipe!

Have you ever cut pipe? It. Is. HARD!

We cut some pipe, dug out the area for the pipe to sit and packed the ground below so it would stay level.

There was one more thing we had to do... use the chipping saw.

Once we broke the cement up, we placed everything where it needed to be, packed up and called it a day. Well, I called it a day. Jim and Ab were heading to another job.

After five hours, my back and forearms definitely felt it. All the digging, cutting and cement breaking took a toll on me and I was only there for a half day. I'm thankful for the experience, but more thankful that there are qualified professionals who are willing to do this job everyday!

Thank you, Den Ketelaar Plumbing, especially Jim and Ab, for letting us tag along on this job!

If you have an idea for a job I should try, email me! We know there are a ton of jobs and workers out there that deserve recognition and we want to give it to them!

*adulting: the practice of behaving in a way characteristic of a responsible adult, especially the accomplishment of mundane but necessary tasks

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© 2017 WZZM-TV


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