Preventing the little problems that can cause major troubles

by Cristi Sanchez

Plumbing problems are something with which Buddy Smith is all too familiar.

“I had a leak in my house a little over five years ago,” Buddy recalls. “I didn’t realize my kitchen faucet was leaking. There was a slow, steady leak in the plumbing hidden out of sight behind the wall, and it destroyed everything.  All of my hardwood floors downstairs had to be replaced; our kitchen cabinets had to be replaced, too; it was a nightmare. Water damage interrupts your life.  We were without a kitchen for three months.  To make things worse, it happened in October, and we had to go through the holidays with no kitchen—all because of one tiny leak.”

After everything was said and done, the small invisible leak was responsible for nearly $60,000 worth of damage to Buddy’s home. That damage led to him having yet one more major headache.  “My insurance company definitely would not renew my homeowner’s policy,” he states. “That meant I had to spend a huge amount of time and energy searching for another insurance company to cover my home.”

Buddy shares his personal plight to shed light on the importance of getting regular plumbing maintenance—a service that his company, Russell’s Heating, Cooling, Plumbing and Electric, began offering in September of 2018.

Having served Hampton Roads communities for over 42 years, Russell’s is one of the most well-known names in the business.  Now, having added residential and commercial plumbing to the list of his company’s offered services, Buddy helps others to avoid their own plumbing nightmares. Russell’s plumbing maintenance agreements include water heater maintenance and flushing, as well as inspections of plumbing fixtures and faucets to check for leaks.

Buddy Smith, owner of Russell’s Heating, Cooling, Plumbing and Electric,
with his wife, Lauren, and their three children: Liam, Jillian and Aly.
Photo courtesy of Cara Rosie

“It’s amazing how much our plumbing business has grown in the last 14 months,” Buddy says with a pleased smile. “During the brief window of time, we grew from nothing to having six plumbing technicians. When we told our heating and cooling clients that we offered plumbing services, we didn’t anticipate how quickly this end of the business would grow.  Our clients know us and the quality of our work, so they really embraced us. Our plumbing technicians really stay busy.  In fact, I need to hire more of them now,” he adds with a laugh.

Russell’s offers a wide array of plumbing services—from shower, tub and toilet installations to sewer line replacements. Russell’s team of plumbing technicians can tackle all jobs related to any aspect of a home’s plumbing.

“Leaks, like the one
that damaged my home,
happen out of sight
behind walls or under the floors.
They are costly and destructive,
and by the time you notice something,
it’s too late.”

—Buddy Smith

“Leaks, like the one that damaged my home, happen out of sight behind walls or under the floors,” Buddy explains. “They are costly and destructive, and by the time you notice something, it’s too late. The key is to catch such problems early.  That’s what our maintenance agreements are for.  We check to make sure everything is working properly. If there are small problems, we can address them before they become big headaches.”

The water heater flushes covered by Russell’s plumbing maintenance agreement are another little-known detail of which many homeowners are unaware.  “Water heaters need to be flushed yearly,” Buddy explains. “Over time sediment builds up on the bottom of the water heater and it won’t work like it’s supposed to with all that sediment in there.  A flush of the tank increases the efficiency of the water heater and helps it last longer.”

Buddy Smith, owner of Russell’s Heating, Cooling, Plumbing and Electric

But for water heaters at the end of their life spans that need to be replaced, Russell’s team has just finished creating the company’s first emergency water heater truck.  “Basically, it’s a box truck outfitted with a variety of different water heaters. If someone needs an emergency water heater replacement, we’ll have a direct replacement right there ready to go, even if it’s at an inconvenient time, like a Sunday night or near the holidays,” Buddy explains.

And with the holiday season approaching, many would not think that it would be busy for plumbers. Still, Buddy and his team of plumbing technicians are standing by for one of their busiest times.  “We do an awful lot of drain cleaning this time of year,” Buddy reveals. “Holiday food and grease are going down garbage disposals, and with multiple people in from out of town, bathrooms that don’t get used as often are seeing a lot more use. So, we see a lot more clogs and slow drains this time of year.”

The many plumbing services offered by Russell’s come with the same quality of work and customer commitment that customers have come to know and expect from the company’s long-time heating and cooling division.   Plumbing technicians are expected to adhere to the same exacting standards of quality work and kind, professional service. “Plumbing is like HVAC—it has the potential to be scary to people as a major home repair or installation.  We teach our guys to be understanding of that and that the focus of our job is people, not just equipment.”

All of Buddy’s plumbing technicians are trained and knowledgeable in their field. They undergo weekly in-house training, not just in the technical aspects of their jobs but also in customer service. Buddy requires them to be professional, kind, and understanding.  “We’ve always gotten compliments from customers about how kind our people are.  That’s not just for our HVAC division.  We expect all of our employees from every service area to treat our customers with kindness and respect,” Buddy states unwaveringly. 

Buddy’s plumbing technicians are no exception.  “There’s a less-than-favorable stereotype of plumbers out there, but our guys are not like that,” Buddy says emphatically. “All of our plumbing technicians are professional and presentable so that people will feel comfortable having in them in their homes.  And our customers have had nothing but positive things to say.”

Russell’s high-skilled technicians are reknowned for delivering courteous, personalized service.

Russell�s Heating & Cooling

1100 Executive Blvd.
Chesapeake, VA 23320