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My Plumber - Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioner Blog - Archive for January 2011

Bath Time Safety Continued

Posted on Wednesday, January 19, 2011 8:49:34 PM


Many people have mobility issues that make personal care difficult. Nerve degeneration, paralysis or problems born of the aging process each holds its own set of concerns that need to be addressed individually. The array of equipment available to assist with these issues is amazing; it requires research to find it all. Some implements are pretty standard for bathing and we will concentrate our attention on them. 
One of the simplest methods you can use to make bath time easier for someone with mobility problems is to install a hand-held showerhead.   Standing or seated, alone or bathing with the aid of an assistant people find that nothing directs the flow of water where it is needed most, better than a hand-held showerhead.
Grab bars are a major aid to anyone with mobility issues. The act of pulling their own bodyweight to a standing position or supporting their weight on the bar while they exit the tub encourages muscle strength. Make sure that the bars installed are institutional grade; stainless steel and they are mounted according to the manufactures instructions.  Don’t make the mistake of installing a towel bar with the expectation that it is going to support the weight of an elder family member or someone who is mobility challenged. It won’t and the results could be painful and costly.   
How the bars are installed and where will depend on the needs of the person, the plumbing layout and the bathtub or shower design. Please avoid the temptation to install a bar diagonally; a vertical or horizontal installation is always best.  If the hand slips and footing is not secure a fall could ensue.
Bath tub seating can be as simple as a stool with suction cups on the feet setting inside the tub or a “bench” that sits half out of the tub and half in. The bather sits on the outside and slides across the bench to access the inside of the tub. There are also walk-in tubs with a door that seals shut for water retention. A favorite aid is the reclining lift-chair that eases the bather down into the water for a nice long soak.
For someone who has become mobility challenged many things that were routine become onerous and what used to be an everyday task becomes frustrating at best and sometimes completely overwhelming. The installation of well thought-out bath time aids will go a long way to make life a little easier for that person.

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Preparing a Bathroom for an Elder

Posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011 5:33:54 PM


We often think that our lives differ somehow from the “Good Ole Days” when multiple generations of a family lived together in one home, sometimes several generations together under one roof. But in the current economic climate with children leaving the nest later and the elderly needing care that families simply can’t afford to hire, multiple generational families are becoming common. 
Post-war baby boomers are aging and their safety and health are being overseen by the next generation. Taking on the care of an aging parent can be intimidating since we are trained from birth to depend on our parents for our own safety and health.  Ratcheting up the safety factor in the bathroom can be an easy way to introduce ourselves to the idea of “caring for” our elders.
Take a fresh look at the bathroom that older family member uses with an eye for basic safety. Is there a bathmat with a rubberized, non-skid undercoating?   Are there appliqués or some other form of anti-skid prevention in the bottom of the shower or bath? 
And when was the last time you thought about the water temperature out of your hot water faucet? Our senior family members may be moving a little slower these days and can’t react as quickly to a sudden burst of hot water; their skin has become more fragile and subject to injury. It does not heal as well as it did in their younger years. These factors combined with very hot water can lead to a tragedy.
It is federal law that manufactures must set the thermostat to heat the water to 120 degrees on all water heaters before they released for sale.  The installer is also equally compelled to leave that setting where he found it. For anyone else (usually the homeowner) the thermostat setting is a matter of personal choice.  If they choose to set the water temperature to 140 degrees or even 160 degrees it is their right to do so. In many homes circumstances have at times dictated those higher water settings, but in a home with an elderly resident safety over-rides any other consideration.  Check the water heaters thermostat setting.
Many seniors hold a silent fear of bath-time, they are unlikely to talk about it, may not even be consciously aware that that is what they are feeling. They just know they dread bathing.  The consequences of that fear can be difficult to live with. 

There are devices that have been created to make bath-time easier on everyone involved.  They are almost innumerable and finding the ones that are most helpful to your particular situation can be over-whelming. Next week we will begin discussing these helpful aids and hopefully, we can remove some of the intimidation factor.    

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The Pretty Plumber

Posted on Tuesday, January 4, 2011 2:28:28 PM

Today, January 4th   is the birthday of Lillian Baumbach, the first woman on record to earn a Master Plumber’s license. In an era when most women aspired to work as a nurse or a secretary and only until they had their first baby, Lillian earned her Master Plumber’s license, became a remodeling estimator and ultimately helped her father build his company into a multi-million dollar enterprise.

Her favorite interviewer according to her younger brother William was Walter Cronkite. She was on the game show What’s My Line, and she was the pin up girl for an Infantry company stationed in Korea during the conflict. She received fan mail and marriage proposals from all over the world, so much that the US Postal Service forwarded letters addressed only to “The Pretty Plumber” to Lillian’s office at Baumbach Plumbing.
 Her plumbing skills coupled with the fact that she was dainty and pretty, with sparkling eyes and a head full of dark curls, captured the imagination of the nation. The many photographs and news stories posted online at can attest to the truth of that. 
We lost Lillian to Leukemia on January 31, 2000, but we still feel her influence. Every woman who picks up a wrench and earns her living in the trades can look to Lillian and say, if she could do it in the times she faced…then I can do it now.                   

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